Team HRC rule the podium of the 2016 Desafio Ruta 40 with Kevin Benavides claiming the win.

The podium of the South American Desafio Ruta 40 was painted red as Honda locked out the podium with Benavides leading home teammates Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves.

From day one onwards, Honda riders occupied the top four places and subsequently held on to them throughout the entire Desafío Ruta 40.

With Benavides clinching the final stage victory it marked the Argentine’s third stage win of the rally. Benavides managed to keep the attacks from teammate Joan Barreda contained to grab the overall victory. This is the first triumph for Benavides in the Ruta 40 and the second win this year after the success in the Merzouga Rally in May.

“I’m really pleased, really happy,” told Benavides. “Joan and I were very close with only twenty-three seconds separating us. To have someone like Barreda behind is an added pressure. 

“I knew that I had to give it 100%. I went very fast, trying not to make any mistakes and luckily, everything turned out great.”

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The final stage wasn’t the best for Barreda, eager to make up the twenty-three second deficit with the race leader. However, the dust raised by Benavides in front led to him over-running a corner and ditching the bike on a slope. Fortunately, teammate Paulo Gonçalves was at hand to help get the bike back on track and allow Barreda to finish the special stage.

“It was a difficult day for me,” said Barreda. “This morning we set off at a very fast pace with very little distance in the general standings. I didn’t have much navigation and there were some very quick stretches of track. 

“At about kilometre 100, I came off the track and the bike ended up down a slope and it was hard to get it back. Paulo arrived and I have to thank him for helping me to get the bike out. I lost a few important minutes which meant that I lost the victory here.”

It was indeed Gonçalves who posted the final stage’s second fastest time to consolidate his third place final podium finish…

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“In some parts I wasn’t that fast because it was so physically demanding and at this point in the year I’m not on top form. On the other hand I felt very comfortable in some parts. 

“The important thing is that the bikes have run perfectly, without the slightest problem. I think that now we have to continue along this line and not stop improving until January comes.”

Honda South America Rally Team riders Franco Caimi on his first outing in the rally, finished with an overall fourth place.

Michael Metge continued to regain momentum after the opening day’s mishap, taking the fourth fastest time, as the race wound up in La Rioja, with fifth in the overall rankings.

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