A week after competing in the third round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Monster Energy Honda Team move on to the next date in the race calendar – the Desafio Ruta 40 – held in Argentina over the final days of August.
Monster Energy Honda Team will barely have time to rest in a chock-a-block August which has already seen participations in the Atacama Rally in Chile and the Vegas to Reno in the United States. One week on, it’s time for the Desafío Ruta 40, on the other side of the Andes, which awaits the competitors in the fourth round of the rally raid discipline.
For the first three rounds of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies calendar the Monster Energy Honda Team has been spearheaded by the duo of riders Paulo Gonçalves (Portugal) and Kevin Benavides (Argentina). This time round, however, for the Desafío Ruta 40 the squad will wheel out the full arsenal of five riders including Joan Barreda (Spain), Michael Metge (France) and Ricky Brabec (USA).
All of the riders will be armed with the Honda CRF450 RALLY with a similar setup to the one likely to feature in the 2018 DakarRally.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that Paulo Gonçalves (2015) and Kevin Benavides (2016) are the two most recent winners in the event. The Honda team dominated last year’s edition with a full podium lockout of Benavides, Barreda and Gonçalves. Additionally, Metge finished in fifth place in a hugely successful campaign that Monster Energy Honda Team will be seeking to replicate in the 2017 edition.
The Desafío Ruta 40 is made up of five stages, getting underway in the city of San Juan, in the region of the same name and finishing in Villa Unión, in La Rioja. Tinogasta and Belén in Catamarca, will be the following locations for the start and finish of the timed specials. The final stages will play out in Tucumán: Tafí del Valle and the capital San Miguel de Tucumán.
"The Desafío Ruta 40 will be my third race of the four that I will compete this year before the 2018 Dakar Rally, and I’m arriving very motivated because I have always had a great time in this rally, despite never having won it; a fact which is a bit unfinished business for me. As I said, this race will be very important because we will have the whole team out here, ahead of the Dakar, and it is fundamental before the big race to make sure that everything is in order, ready for the start in January in Lima with 9000 kilometres ahead."
"As a test in the FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship, the Desafio Ruta 40 is a major race for us. These months of August, September and October will be very intense for the team with so many races. Without a doubt, it will be a very good experience for the Monster Energy Honda Team and, personally, I hope the race is very positive and hopefully we can repeat the victory of 2015."
"For me, it is very important to be able to defend the title obtained last year in the Ruta 40 - a very important race in my sports career. I started the year in the Middle East, where I regained my pace after the injury that had kept me out the Dakar. So this time for the Ruta 40, I’m in much better and stronger physical shape. After there was the race in Chile, where I was in the fight for a victory right up until the final day. Hopefully, this new battle on home soil will serve to help me retake the title that I clinched last year.