Benavides wins the second stage and Barreda continues to lead the Ruta 40

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Team HRC and Honda South America Rally Team consolidate their top positions after the second stage of the Desafío Ruta 40 today. Barreda remains at the top of the leader board, with today’s winner Benavides hot on his heels. 

Honda and Team HRC are dominating the Desafío Ruta 40 so far. Joan Barreda continues to lead the general rankings after finishing the second day’s racing along with Argentinean Kevin Benavides. Both riders kept up an infernal pace that kept them ahead of the pack on a complicated day requiring full attention. Competitors were forced to endure rock-filled rivers, badly rain-damaged tracks and more dangerous hazards than were previously expected. The stage called for particular attention to the roadbook and absolute concentration on the conditions of the paths. To make matters even trickier, the final stretch needed some nifty navigational skills to boot. Benavides and Barreda put on a fine display of teamwork and quickly found the right paths that led them to San Juan ahead of the bunch. 

Paulo Gonçalves made the decision to sit back from Barreda and Benavides and maintain a steadier pace for the treacherous second stage. The Portuguese rider is adjusting to some of the new changes brought about to the Honda CRF450 RALLY machine. Behind were the riders from the Honda South America Rally Team, Franco Caimi and Javier Pizzolito with Michael Metge now lying in sixth overall place after placing fifth on the day. Team HRC’s French rider was in better shape today after a heavy fall yesterday forced him to visit the physiotherapist after the race. 

The third stage of the Desafío Ruta 40 will feature the longest special of the competition with a 515.75 km loop, starting and finishing in San Juan. By the end of tomorrow’s competition the riders will have put in some 678.46 kilometres in total.

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Joan Barreda (STAGE: 2nd  OVERALL: 1st )
,,A good day today. We got away at a very fast pace over the first kilometres and by refuelling I had caught up with Kevin. From then on we rode together until the end. The navigation was quite complicated with some very broken up areas, tricky navigation and a bit like Sardinia even. We had to stay really focused, but in the end it was a trouble-free stage. ''

Paulo Goncalves (STAGE: 3rd  OVERALL: 3rd)
,,A truly difficult special stage; very dangerous because of the recent rainfall. There were a lot of dangers. I tried to keep a safe pace, Joan and Kevin set off at a faster pace, but I’m happy all the same because I worked hard on the bike. Maybe not with the same kind of speed as them but we still have three days ahead to get everything fixed up, which is the aim of the rally. ''

Kevin Benavides (STAGE: 1st  OVERALL: 2nd)
,,We have finished the second stage. It was really hard and physically demanding. The rain had broken up the ground a lot and was pretty dangerous. I went with Joan opening the track in the opening kilometres with a difficult navigation. We got through it well, taking it in turns to ride up front until we found the right spot.''

Michael Metge (STAGE: 5th  OVERALL: 6th)
''Today was a long special, demanding with a lot of navigation and river crossings. I found a better rhythm than yesterday, without so much pain and I was looking for a position that I felt comfortable in. Finally, I managed to navigate well. I felt better after the visit to the physio yesterday afternoon where I released a lot of the built-up stress.'' 

Roberto Boasso (Team Manager)
''Today was a good day and one with some navigation. Barreda had a great stage especially with such tough navigating. Kevin also did really well and won the special. Paulo Gonçalves took it a bit easier, coming to terms with the bike. Michael is still in pain. Let’s see how he gets on with the physiotherapist. We are happy; there’s a good sense of harmony and the mechanics are doing a great job. The cold isn’t letting up though. Let’s see how the rest of the week goes.''