A bittersweet first stage of the Desafío Ruta 40 for Monster Energy Honda Team. Kevin Benavides, one of the hot favourites for an overall win, was forced to retire after taking a heavy fall. Nevertheless, the winning laurels went to team-mate Paulo Gonçalves, riding the longest stage of Ruta 40.

With the scrutineering, the prologue and the ceremonial start out of the way, the Desafío Ruta 40 headed out of Tucumán and moved into the province of Catamarca before finishing up in Belén in a tough, complicated and gruelling stage. The roadbook read 286.51 kilometres of timed special out of a total of 573.42 kilometres on the day. Riders faced a special that included several rivers, a fair amount of rocks and off-road stretches which presented some serious dangers.

In one of these hazardous zones, at kilometre 200, Kevin Benavides came a cropper, falling and suffering concussion after a blow to the head. After the rider had battled on to CP3, medics refused to allow the local hero to continue and promptly whisked him off to the hospital in Belén to undergo tests.

Benavides’ stable-mate at Monster Energy Honda Team, Portuguese stalwart Paulo Gonçalves, proved to be untouchable on the day. After setting off from fourth place, the rider set a blistering pace, avoiding the dust en route and crossing the finish line after 4:02:05, a feat which places Gonçalves at the top of the overall standings.

American Ricky Brabec fared well after being lumbered with opening the track. The rider took the opportunity to continue gaining navigational experience, leading the field until he was eventually caught by Gonçalves. Nevertheless Brabec managed to post fifth place on the day.

The wild-card of the team, Mathias Bellino, got his first taste of the rally and made it through to the finish with some mistake unimportant in his first stage with the Honda CRF450 RALLY. Every kilometre of the tough slog would have served as a deep learning curve. The Frenchman arrived in Belén to post the seventh fastest time of the day.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, the race heads towards southwest, arriving in the town of Tinogasta in the province of Catamarca. The second stage will have an initial liaison section of 11.47 kilometres before the 166.81-kilometre timed special stage. After a neutralization section of some 3.7 kilometres, the day’s second special begins at 147.24 kilometres. After a final 84.61-kilometre liaison section competitors will find themselves at the bivouac in Tinogasta.

Paulo Goncalves 4

STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 1st

The stage was long and very difficult with many rivers and a lot of rocks but also a lot of off-piste too. I tried to stay focused and by the middle of the race I already had Ricky in sight. I pushed hard and I was able to win the stage. I'm happy but there are a lot of kilometres still to go. We have to be attentive from the beginning to the end and make it to the final goal as best we can. I hope Kevin's fall was not very serious and he can recover soon.

Ricky Brabec 15

STAGE: 5th OVERALL: 5th

Today was day one. Unfortunately I started first again. The outcome wasn’t as bad as I had thought it was going to be last night. I opened the whole day by myself. I’m happy to have finished the stage. Congratulations to Paulo for the stage win. I hope Kevin feels alright after his incident earlier. I’m happy to be going on to day two and I hope for a good result tomorrow.

2018 Cross-Country Rallies
Stage Round FIM-4 , 1   Ruta40

Provisional Results Stage 1

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 Goncalves Paulo 4 POR Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 4:02'05
2 Quintanilla Pablo 1 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +0'28
3 Walkner Matthias 3 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +4'50
4 Price Toby 11 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +5'38
5 Brabec Ricky 15 USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +8'34
6 Benavides Luciano 17 ARG KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +16'26
7 Bellino Mathias 18 FRA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +26'35
8 Nosiglia Daniel 19 BOL Team Nosiglia KTM +32'33
9 Santolino Lorenzo 21 SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +38'52
10 Ontiveros Alberto 23 ARG San Juan Gobierno Rally Team Beta +1:17'01
2018 Cross-Country Rallies
Stage Round FIM-4 , 1   Ruta40

provisional Standings after Stage 1

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 Goncalves Paulo 4 POR Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 4:08'00
2 Quintanilla Pablo 1 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +0'27
3 Walkner Matthias 3 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +4'43
4 Price Toby 11 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +5'32
5 Brabec Ricky 15 USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +8'35
6 Benavides Luciano 17 ARG KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +16'41
7 Bellino Mathias 18 FRA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +26'31
8 Nosiglia Daniel 19 BOL Team Nosiglia KTM +32'53
9 Santolino Lorenzo 21 SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +39'16
10 Ontiveros Alberto 23 ARG San Juan Gobierno Rally Team Beta +1:17'52
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