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

Chris Glaspell

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