A win for Benavides who takes over from Barreda at the top of the Ruta 40

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Local boy Kevin Benavides claimed the victory in the fourth stage of the Desafío Ruta 40. The Argentine rider takes the baton from his teammate at the head of the standings, with the Spaniard finishing second, with just one day to go. HRC held the top four places.

Another day – another excellent stage for Team HRC at the Desafío Ruta 40, where the four factory riders aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLYs proved to be the fastest over the 435 km of timed special. 

Yesterday’s final results were later revised by race authorities after the race times were shortened after a confusing error had been signalled in the roadbook. This benefited Kevin Benavides who regained fourteen seconds that he had originally thought to have dropped. 

An attack today by Benavides took the rider, who hails from Salta, to the top of the overall leader board. Even though the Spaniard had opened the track from the start of the timed section, Kevin Benavides was able to pull back 1’20” to take overall first place some 23 seconds ahead of Joan Barreda. Tomorrow an attack from the Spaniard can be expected. 

Paulo Gonçalves kept up a fast pace in the second half of the special after having preferred to play it safe in the earlier heavily-potholed stretches of the race. The Portuguese came home 7’11 adrift of Benavides and sits in third overall. Michael Metge today had his best stage of the Desafío Ruta 40 so far, finishing in fourth and moving up to a matching position in the general rankings. 

The final stage of the Desafío Ruta 40 finishes up in La Rioja tomorrow. This will be a short special stage of 177.14 km, although riders will have to complete a total of 475.49 km including the liaison section, to finish the total of 2887.23 km that the rally will have covered in the 2016 edition. 

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Joan Barreda (STAGE: 2nd  OVERALL: 2nd:
,,Today we also had a long special and I was opening the track from first thing in the morning to the end of the day. There was a first part with a lot of dunes, with some very rough track that was very demanding physically. After there was an area with navigation which gave way to a final stretch with fast track where we really picked up speed. I think that it was important to stay very focused all day without making any mistakes. That has been the most positive point.''

Paulo Goncalves (STAGE: 3rd  OVERALL: 3rd):
''Today was a hard day’s rallying with 430 km of special. This morning I had a few difficulties in the sandy area which was very bumpy so I decided to hold back a bit. I lost a bit of time but I made it up in the second half. The main thing is that we have kept up four days without any problems. 4500 km with the bike working to perfection; I feel very at ease with it and tomorrow I will attempt to finish this first test as we head towards the Dakar.'' 

Kevin Benavides (STAGE: 1st  OVERALL: 1st):
''I won the fourth stage! I’m really happy. In the beginning there was a part in the dunes and a salt-flat crossing with difficult navigation. To finish, there were mountain tracks and very fast track. I felt very comfortable on the bike and was able to cut the gap with Joan and then win the stage. The most important thing is that I go on learning things and that we do some good teamwork. Tomorrow is the final day and we will try and give it everything.''

Michael Metge (STAGE: 4th  OVERALL: 4th):
,,I had quite a good day but it wasn’t easy to ride with the rally bike, but I’m satisfied with how it went. I think that it has been my best stage so far in the rally. Tomorrow I hope to finish off my Ruta 40 without any problems in the short special stage that remains.''

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Roberto Boasso (Team Manager):
,,Today was a great day. The special was very quick and the riders did a great job. We are really pleased with the way that the bike is developing. Tomorrow the Ruta 40 finishes and the results have been really positive, but also everything concerning our main objective that has been to work on the bike. Everything has turned out right and has been perfect."