Kevin Benavides has won the 2017 Desafío Ruta 40 title for the second successive year after some outstanding performances over the final stages showing exceptional riding and navigation skills. Paulo Gonçalves took runner-up spot on the podium and improves his position in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
Benavides commented: ‘It was a tough race from the start. I am very happy to get my first victory in a world championship race and to be, also, the first Argentinean to get it, also here on home soil. The race got pretty complicated at times, particularly on the first day, where I injured my hand, and then I got hit in the nose by the bike in the dunes. But we took it on the chin and we kept going. I had the pin out from the injury that kept me out of the Dakar. I wish to thank the entire Monster Energy Honda Team for the great job they have done in this race, as well as my fellow riders, especially Paulo, who has maintained a great level throughout this week.”
Gonçalves stated: “We have finished Ruta 40 – a very tough race. There have been five stages the way it should really be: with navigation and extreme difficulty. I’m happy because I’ve been pushing hard every day to be at the top. I was very close and even managed to become leader on the third day. I still had a chance to win it although yesterday I had some problems; I fell and that messed things up a little and Kevin ended up winning the race. I want to congratulate him because he has done a great job. Here he has been stronger than anyone. The work of the Monster Energy Honda Team has been very good and we must continue along this line. It was a shame that Joan could not finally take part here, and we wish him a speedy recovery.”
A week ago the duo of Kevin Benavides and Paulo Gonçalves took second and third spot in the Atacama Rally in Chile; today the same pair upgraded their result to the top two steps in Argentina’s Desafío Ruta 40.
Kevin Benavides, the local lad won two special stages and controlled the rally from the second stage onwards. Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves finished in second place some 12 minutes behind Kevin but with a huge 28-minute gap over the third place rider.
The results of the rally give a boost to both riders in their FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship positions with just one race – the OiLibya Morocco Rally – still to run. Paulo lies in second, five points off the leader Pablo Quintanilla; Benavides is fourth, also seven points behind the third-placed rival.
Today’s stage was won by Michael Metge, marking the French rider’s first world championship win, a just reward for his performances in the rally.