One-two for Monster Energy Honda Team overall as the Desafío Ruta 40 concludes

2017-08-31 16:35
Kevin Benavides has won the 2017 Desafío Ruta 40 title for the second successive year after some splendid performances by the Monster Energy Honda Team rider over the final stages. Paulo Gonçalves took runner-up spot on the podium and improves his position in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Michael Metge snatched the final stage victory as the rally wrapped up in San Miguel de Tucumán.

Monster Energy Honda Team continue to accrue titles and were once again on the top steps of the rostrum in an FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship event. 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 to the top two steps with a triumph in Argentina’s Desafío Ruta 40.

Kevin Benavides capitalized on the advantage gained in yesterday’s stage to clinch top honours overall and ride victoriously into Tucumán – the final destination of the Desafío Ruta 40. The local boy won two special stages and controlled the rally from the second stage onwards. Monster Energy Honda Team companion, Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves finished in second place some 12 minutes adrift of 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, 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. Ricky Brabec, fourth in the final special stage, takes fifth overall place in the final Desafío Ruta 40 table.

The next race for the Monster Energy Honda Team takes place shortly with Peru’s Baja Inka which will feature the participation of Gonçalves, Benavides and Metge and will be held from 14th to the 17th September.

Paulo Goncalves
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.

Paulo Goncalves
Kevin Benavides
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.

Kevin Benavides
Ricky Brabec
This week has been up and down mentally - not so much physically. There were two bad days that really hurt me in the overall standings, which is hard for me to take in but I have to realize that this is one of the more serious races since I broke my neck in April. It feels good to finish the five-day rally in preparation for Dakar. There were a few mild mistakes here, but we are here; we are healthy; the bikes are running and in really good shape; the riders are in good shape too and I think that we are on the right path to take the Dakar overall win for Team Honda. I couldn’t thank everyone enough in the Monster Energy Rally Team, because they’ve put such a lot of work into the bikes and the strategy. Also, the mechanics too - they’re up before the riders; they go to bed later than anybody else. Their job is not easy. They don’t really work during midday when we are racing but they have to get up really early to make sure that our bikes are in tip-top shape for each stage and that is awesome. So, thanks to the whole crew for making this possible for us riders to just wake up and go ride our dirt bikes across the desert.

Ricky Brabec
Michael Metge
I was very happy before coming here because we had practically all the rally riders and it was a very good opportunity to train together. It was a shame that Joan couldn’t race here, but fortunately it's nothing serious and he will soon be back on the bike. This race has been really nice, with a lot of off-piste, many dry rivers; the kind of terrain on which I haven’t been able to train too much this year. I know I've had a good pace over the stages and that only an electrical problem stopped me from getting a better result in the overall. The important thing is that we have done some great training for the Dakar, we put the bike to the test - which was super - and also the team, which worked very well. It ended with my first victory in a world championship event and I am very happy about that because it gives me more motivation to train in depth for the Dakar.

Michael Metge
Taichi Honda
Monster Energy Honda Team Rally Large Project Leader
The Desafio Ruta 40 has finished with two Monster Energy Honda Team riders in the first two positions and I am really very happy about this result. The riders have shown great performances on the bike and all the mechanics and the rest of the team have also worked very well. There are some things to improve for the Dakar Rally and we will continue to work to climb a step further. I want to thank the followers and sponsors for the support they give us. Now we have a chance to fight for the world championship before the Dakar, we will try and reach the Dakar with more good results in the race.

Taichi Honda
Raul Castells
Monster Energy Honda Team Manager
This victory means a lot to the team because in Atacama we were close to getting it. That means we are doing things correctly and we are on the right track. Everything is positive. On the other hand, there are always things to improve and we will continue to do that to be able to reach the Dakar better than anyone. The team has done a great job here. We had no problems and the riders did well. I want to congratulate Kevin on his victory, but also to Paulo for fighting until the very end. Mika and Ricky too, have shown a very high level. It was a shame that Joan could not finally be in this race. We wish him a speedy recovery and we are looking forward to the next races. I especially want to thank the great support we received from HRC and Honda in Japan, as the bike is going perfect and we have had no problems. Also, I wish to thank the team sponsors and collaborators: Monster Energy, Motul, Alpinestars, Michelin, Termignoni, GIVI, Showa. Tell them that we are doing things well and we will go all out to win the Dakar

Source: Honda Racing Corporation

Click here to visit our forums to discuss this story