Podium lockout for Joan Barreda, Paulo Gonçalves and Kevin Benavides, who weathered a tough day of navigation and cold weather in the Desafío Ruta 40 opening stage.

The canvas of the first stage of the Desafío Ruta 40 has been tinged with Team HRC colours. Honda CRF450 RALLYs occupied no less than the first six final positions, with a notable victory for Joan Barreda, laying down the gauntlet on day one.

There was no shortage of tricky navigation to deal with in the first and cold stage which started out in the Nihuil dunes and the salt flats of the Mendoza province. Next came a section of fast track with wild animals causing some of the riders a scare or two. Barreda, for example, was unable to avoid a collision with one, although he made it safely through the ordeal, before going on to take the stage victory.

Finishing behind Barreda was Team HRC colleague Paulo Gonçalves – winner of the 2015 Ruta 40 – who eased himself back into the race today and is sure to be competitive over the forthcoming stages. Kevin Benavides rounded out the podium. The Argentinean, who started out from first place from San Rafael, opened the track in the 309.54 kilometre special stage, finished with a five minute deficit to Barreda.

Honda South America Rally Team riders, Javier Pizzolito and Franco Caimi crossed the line ahead of Michael Metge, who had a hard fall in the dunes on a tough, troublesome first day at the Desafío Ruta 40.

Tomorrow the second stage will feature a 310.24 kilometre special timed stage and some 322 kilometres of liaison. The stage winds up in San Juan.

Joan Barreda


It was a good day and things went well even though it was complicated. I had a fairly heavy setback earlier on. A large animal walked out on me and I was unable to avoid hitting it. I fell in one of the fast zones. Luckily, it was nothing serious, neither for me nor for the bike. I was lucky. In the second part I tried to keep up a good pace, but the connection with the GPS became undone. I lost some time trying to reconnect it, but I saw that I wouldn’t be able to sort it out so I decided to focus more on the navigation, above all in the area with the radars. In spite of the setbacks, it all worked out well: a good day.

Paulo Goncalves


The first day went pretty well. At the start I had trouble getting into the race after six months without competing, but I got through to the end quite happily. The bike has worked really well and we are on the right track. Tomorrow we will try and keep up a good pace because the work that we are doing is very important. The navigation in the Ruta 40 is hard and it won’t be an easy race, neither will the climate. Tomorrow I will try and enjoy the day and keep on evolving.

Kevin Benavides


I’m fine after a very hard stage. There was a 70 kilometre area of dunes at the start with some tough navigating. I made a few mistakes, but I opened the track from start to finish. I had to dodge a few animals on the first part of the special. It was a complicated moment as I had to stop the bike to avoid having an accident. After I had a good day, getting a feeling for the bike and feeling comfortable with it. It is only the first day, so we will have to keep banging away at it.

Michael Metge


The day started well in the dunes. I was getting along great and the bike was running perfectly. In a dune with low visibility I jumped and fell in the camel grass. I hit the seat and really got hurt. Up until the neutralization section there were a few parts that reminded me how hard the blow had been. Things went better in the second part with a lot clearer track without too many holes. I got back after a bit of a delay but I hope that things will go better tomorrow.

Private: Roberto Boasso

Team Manager

It was a really tough day, mainly because of the climate. There was a lot of cold and the riders were frozen. It was 3º. This was a fast stage with a lot of navigation. Joan fell because of an animal and Michael fell too and was in a lot of pain from crushed vertebrae. Paolo kept in control, like Kevin, who had a really good stage today, opening the special. We will go on working. It is a tough race; we sleep very little and it’s cold, but we are happy because everything is progressing in a positive way.

2016 Season
Stage 1   Ruta40

Results Stage 1

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 Barreda Joan SPA Team HRC Honda 3:45'45
2 Goncalves Paulo POR Team HRC Honda +3'37
3 Benavides Kevin ARG Team HRC Honda +4'54
4 Pizzolito Javier ARG Honda South America Rally Team Honda +9'08
5 Caimi Franco ARG Honda South America Rally Team Honda +13'20
6 Metge Michael FRA Team HRC Honda +21'03
7 Duplessis Martín ARG MED Racing Team KTM +28'27
8 Salvatierra Juan Carlos BOL Chavo Salvatierra Racing KTM +39'27
9 Kozac José Julián ARG Julián Kozac Rally Team Yamaha +39'28
10 Ontiveros Alberto ARG San Juan Gobierno Rally Team Beta +1:04'09
Location Information

The Desafio Ruta 40, gets installed in the global sporting context as a premium brand. More than a simple velocity race, like every Cross Country Rally, the Desafio Ruta 40 is an adventure that requires competitors other capacities that goes beyond speed to reach the goal faster. Desafio Ruta 40… read more.

San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina - View in Google Maps