Kevin Benavides wins the Desafío Ruta 40. Team HRC podium lockout!

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Three Honda names featured on the 2016 Desafío Ruta 40 final podium: Kevin Benavides, Joan Barreda and Paulo Gonçalves after a thrilling, emotion-packed final stage. 

Team HRC dominated the rally. On day one the Honda CRF450 RALLY riders occupied the top four places and subsequently held on to them throughout the entire Desafío Ruta 40. 

Kevin Benavides clinched the final stage victory today. This was the Argentine’s third stage win. Benavides managed to keep the attacks from teammate Joan Barreda contained to grab the overall victory. This is the first triumph for Benavides in the Ruta 40 and the second win this year after the success in the Merzouga Rally in May. 

It wasn’t the best day for Joan Barreda, eager to make up the twenty-three second deficit with the race leader. However, the dust raised by Benavides in front led to the Spanish rider over-running a curve and ditching the bike on a slope. Fortunately, teammate Paulo Gonçalves was at hand to help get the bike back on track and allow Barrreda to finish the special stage. 

It was indeed Gonçalves who posted the day’s second fastest time in the closing stage of the Desafío Ruta 40, to consolidate his third place final podium finish. Michael Metge continued to regain momentum after the opening day’s mishap, taking the fourth fastest time, as the race wound up in La Rioja, with fifth in the overall rankings. 

Honda South America Rally Team riders Franco Caimi and Javier Pizzolito concluded a satisfactory rally. Caimi, on his first outing here, finished with an overall fourth place and Pizzolito, who experienced an electrical fault on the third day, took ninth spot in the final standings. 

Kevin Benavides (STAGE: 1st  FINAL: 1st):
''I’m really pleased; really happy. Joan and I were very close with only twenty-three seconds separating us. To have someone like Barreda behind is an added pressure. I knew that I had to give it 100%. I went very fast, trying not to make any mistakes and luckily, everything turned out great. I wish to thank HRC, Honda South America, the team mechanics and all the people who have supported us and all those who have greeted us via social media. Thanks to everyone!''

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Joan Barreda (STAGE: 3rd  FINAL: 2nd):

''It was a difficult day for me. This morning we set off at a very fast pace with very little distance in the general standings. I didn’t have much navigation and there were some very quick stretches of track. At about kilometre 100, I came off the track and the bike ended up down a slope and it was hard to get it back. Paulo arrived and I have to thank him for helping me to get the bike out. I lost a few important minutes which meant that I lost the victory here.''

Paulo Goncalves (STAGE: 2nd  FINAL: 3rd):
,,We have finished this first test of the season very well. In some parts I wasn’t that fast because it was so physically demanding and at this point in the year I’m not on top form. On the other hand I felt very comfortable in some parts. I’m sure the next race will be better. The important thing is that the bikes have run perfectly, without the slightest problem. I think that now we have to continue along this line and not stop improving until January comes.''

Michael Metge (STAGE: 4th  FINAL: 5th):
,,The day has been a good one. I was having a great time out on those WRC-style tracks. High speeds, little navigation… and the bike was going fantastically. I was a bit disappointed that Joan was unable to win the stage and the rally, but I’m happy that the victory was for Honda and one of the great Team HRC riders.''

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Roberto Boasso (Team Manager)
,,I’m very pleased. The rally has been a very hard one for the riders, with very difficult weather conditions and a lot of navigation. Today, Kevin won it and we are very pleased about that. Joan started out from behind him and there was a lot of dust and with that it’s hard if the rider wants to make up time. It has been very fast-paced these days. I’m really happy with the way that the whole team have worked: the mechanics, the technicians, the bike… The job has been done very well. We will keep up the good work. We can’t stop! I would also like to thank Metge who did had a great race in spite of taking a hard knock on the back in the first stage and Gonçalves too, who has come back after the Dakar with a good race. Thanks to everyone.''