Monster Energy Honda Team are all fired up and ready to roll in the 2018 Desafío Ruta 40, which kicks off today, Sunday, with the dispute of a curtain-raising prologue.

After last week’s hugely successful Atacama Rally campaign, where Kevin Benavides clinched a decisive victory, this week the action hops the border into the neighbouring Argentina, home soil for Kevin Benavides, current bi-champion of the Desafío Ruta 40. The Monster Energy Honda Team rider is the clear favourite for the triumph as the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship enters its fourth round. Benavides currently shares top spot in the overall championship. The race gets underway today in San Miguel de Tucumán, before winding up five stages later in San Juan.

Local star Kevin Benavides will line up alongside fellow squad members Paulo Gonçalves, who finished runner-up in last year’s edition of the Ruta 40 and American rider Ricky Brabec, fifth in 2017. On this occasion the two other team riders will be absent; Joan Barreda, forced out by an injury sustained a week ago in the Atacama, who was recently successfully operated on in Barcelona; likewise Chilean Nacho Cornejo misses the event. The team has, however, decided to count on the incorporation of ‘wild-card’ rider, Frenchman Mathias Bellino, who will be behind the bars of one of the Honda CRF450 RALLYs over the 2285-kilometre race.

Yesterday the team made their first contact with the terrain, confirming that everything is all set to go and leaving the bikes ready to start the race once the mandatory technical and administrative shakedown had been completed.

The Desafío Ruta 40 commences today, Sunday, with a 6.3-kilometre prologue that will take place around the area of El Cadillal some twenty kilometres from the Hippodrome of San Miguel de Tucumán where the race’s bivouac is situated. At 20:00 hrs (local time) there will be a ceremonial exit from the provincial government building in the Plaza de la Independencia. The first stage, between San Miguel de Tucumán and Belén will be the longest in terms of total kilometres at 573.42 kilometres, although not the longest timed special at 286.51 kilometres.

Kevin Benavides 2

We are already on Argentinean soil for the dispute of this latest race, the Ruta 40. It is special to ride in front of a home crowd and it is very motivating for us. We all stayed at my house for a few days, with the other riders, so they could get to know Argentine customs. Yesterday we went through the shakedown and everything is fine. We are happy and focused for this fourth round of the world championship.

Paulo Goncalves 4

We continue in South America with the fourth round of the world championship. I hope to continue with the good sensations and hope to continue increasing speed and pace. The objective is to improve upon the result in Chile. We had a good shakedown and everything is ready for the prologue and will be starting the race very strongly.

Ricky Brabec 11

Here we are at the Ruta 40 for the second rally of the second half of the season. Last week we had a week off and we spent five days with Kevin’s family. It was really fun and lots of great food. Now it’s time to get back to work and fully focus towards the Ruta 40 victory with the team. We are all in really good shape. The bikes are good. We just shook down the motorcycles and we are ready to go.

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