Joan Barreda consolidates leadership in Argentina

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Team HRC still firmly commands at the head of the Desafío Ruta 40 leader board after the third day featuring the rally’s longest special stage. Joan Barreda was the quickest, with local boy Kevin Benavides finishing behind the Spaniard who extends his lead to over two minutes.

The thermometer was reading eight below zero at seven o’clock this morning in San Juan. In such cold, Team HRC set off this morning to tackle 515.15 kilometres of special timed stage. The stage was to take in mountain tracks, broken paths, river fords and some off-piste, where the riders were able to put the Honda CRF450 RALLY through its paces. The second part of the special was also over heterogeneous terrain that covered soft track, sand and even some fesh-fesh.

Team HRC rider Kevin Benavides headed the group out this morning after having finished first yesterday. Joan Barreda started behind him and was already up to the Argentine’s rooster tail by refuelling. The pair rode virtually together until the finish line with the Spaniard taking the day’s top honours. Paulo Gonçalves had an accident involving the navigation instruments and found himself without the roadbook at the start of the special. He had a momentary lapse in orientation and took a hard blow on the leg during a fall. The Portuguese rider, once the roadbook had been sorted out, was able to speed his way through the rest of the special and even pull back some lost time. Frenchman Michael Metge appears to have got over the knock in the first stage and was looking far more at ease aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, sets out from San Juan and arrives in La Rioja in the fourth stage with 435.67 kilometres against the clock. By the time the day is through, the odometer will be reading 630.13 total kilometres. 

Joan Barreda (STAGE: 1st  OVERALL: 1st)
,,We have finished the longest stage of the rally, which was tough with a lot of kilometres. It has been very positive; we finished well without any problems. The first part, with a lot of broken up rivers and dangers was difficult in the beginning. The second part was very fast where we set a very quick pace. It has been hard and complicated, but I’m happy to have made it through without any setbacks.''

Paulo Goncalves (STAGE: 3rd  OVERALL: 3rd): 
,,Today we had a very long stage, but a very good one. In the beginning, the first 200 km didn’t work out very well for me because I didn’t have any connection with the navigation system and I got lost just as we started the timed section. I was unable to look at anything. I fell and hurt my leg. I lost about 15 minutes in the special. I think that the second one went much better; I was fast and I enjoyed the special. I’m happy because the bike is moving really well on all terrain types: sand, rocks, fast and slow track, everything really.''

Kevin Benavides (STAGE: 2nd  OVERALL: 2nd):
,,Today was a really good stage even though it was a long one. It was really cold at the beginning: minus eight degrees! I open the track from start to finish. I lost a bit of time at the waypoint at km 130 which wasn’t properly indicated on the roadbook. Joan caught up with me. After we pushed on together until the end. It was a good stage with great teamwork and we got through to the end well. We continue to have a lot of desire.''

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 Michael Metge (STAGE: 5th  OVERALL: 5th):
,,Today the special was very long, very varied with a lot of different types of terrain. I had a very good time and I’m pleased with the way that it all turned out. I’m getting stronger physically as time goes on and the truth is that today was a stage that I was really able to savour.''

Roberto Boasso (Team Manager)
,,Everything went well today. It was a long stage that was really cold at the start. It was not an easy one to ride, so hats off to all the riders who had to put up with such extreme temperatures. Joan and Kevin did really well, they were really strong at the front opening the track. Paulo has a slight problem with the navigation equipment and Michael is improving physically. We are very happy because, among other things, the development of the bike is going really well. Let’s hope tomorrow gives us a surprise with higher temperatures.''