The Argentinean Ruta 40 rally lived up to Team HRC’s expectations. Honda CRF450 RALLY bikes monopolized the top positions on every day of the event, displaying great performance and reliability throughout.
After getting the 2016 season underway with a victory in the Merzouga Rally and a solid performance in the Sardegna Rally Race, the Desafío Ruta 40 was an opportunity to really fine-tune the revamped Team HRC. The participation of four of the factory riders – Joan Barreda, Paulo Gonçalves, Kevin Benavides and Michael Metge – was highly positive, with the team consistently notching up top finishes. In addition, the team succeeded in setting up the Honda CRF450 RALLY with virtually the same configuration that will be used in the Rally Dakar 2017.
The team comes away from Argentina very satisfied. As far as the racing went, Kevin Benavides and Joan Barreda bonded well throughout the week, at a pace which other competitors were unable to match. The win for Kevin Benavides underlines the enormous potential that the young Argentinean possesses.
For Paulo Gonçalves, participation in the Ruta 40 begins the first phase of his Dakar preparation. The Portuguese rider eased himself into the rally and improved performances by the day. At full pace by the final stage, the gutsy HRC rider might have even taken the victory, had he not stopped to help out teammate Barreda. Gonçalves finished on the third step of the final podium in La Rioja.
Team HRC’s other rider, Frenchman Michael Metge, had a tricky start to the rally. Metge fell victim to a one-minute penalty for speeding in a radar zone, before taking a nasty blow in the back whilst jumping a dune. The Frenchman, however, battled back, gathering pace and eventually finished in a respectable position.
FINAL RESULTS Desafío Ruta 40 2016
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC Honda 16:46'47
2 BARREDA Joan SPA Team HRC Honda +6'56
3 GONCALVES Paulo POR Team HRC Honda +28'56
4 CAIMI Franco ARG Honda South America Rally Team Honda +1:09'41
5 METGE Michael FRA Team HRC Honda +1:18'31
6 SALVATIERRA Juan Carlos BOL Chavo Salvatierra Racing KTM +2:25'40
7 DUPLESSIS Martín ARG MED Racing Team KTM +2:26'15
8 KOZAC José Julián ARG Julián Kozac Rally Team Yamaha +3:25'51
9 PIZZOLITO Javier ARG Honda South America Rally Team Honda +3:31'35
10 FUENTES Fabricio BOL Villa Montes Racing KTM +4:14'26