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Photo credit: Edo Bauer/RallyZone

The Monster Energy Honda Team have successfully finished the 2017 edition of the Desafio Ruta 40 with their riders placing first and second overall. Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally's Xavier de Soultrait completed the podium in third.

Kevin Benavides has won the Desafío Ruta 40 title for the second successive year after some splendid performances by the Honda rider over the final stages. Team-mate Paulo Gonçalves took runner-up spot on the podium and improves his position in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

Kevin Benavides capitalized on the advantage gained in yesterday’s stage to clinch top honours overall and ride victoriously into Tucumán – the final destination of the Desafío Ruta 40. The local boy won two special stages and controlled the rally from the second stage onwards. 

It was a tough race from the start," told Benavides. "I am very happy to get my first victory in a world championship race and to be, also, the first Argentinean to get it, also here on home soil. The race got pretty complicated at times, particularly on the first day, where I injured my hand, and then I got hit in the nose by the bike in the dunes. But we took it on the chin and we kept going. I had the pin out from the injury that kept me out of the Dakar."



Photo credit: Edo Bauer/RallyZone

Monster Energy Honda Team companion, Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves finished in second place some 12 minutes adrift of Kevin but with a huge 28-minute gap over the third place rider.

"We have finished Ruta 40 - a very tough race," exclaimed Gonçalves. "There have been five stages the way it should really be: with navigation and extreme difficulty. I'm happy because I've been pushing hard every day to be at the top. I was very close and even managed to become leader on the third day. I still had a chance to win it although yesterday I had some problems; I fell and that messed things up a little and Kevin ended up winning the race. I want to congratulate him because he has done a great job. Here he has been stronger than anyone.

"It was a shame that Joan (Barreda) could not finally take part here, and we wish him a speedy recovery."


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Photo credit: Edo Bauer/RallyZone

Yamaha's Xavier de Soultrait retained his third place in the event's overall standings, putting Yamaha on the final podium of an international multi-stage event for the second time this season.

"It's been a hard-earned podium result," told de Soultrait. "I can't thank my team for all their hard work during the last few days. The Desafio Ruta 40 has been a tough event for all and I'm glad we managed to wrap it up with one more positive result.

"I feel we've been making some good progress this year. After my victory at the Merzouga Rally and my top five result at the Atacama Rally, to get a top three result racing against the top rally racers in Argentina shows we're making steps towards the right direction. I feel that I have improved in many aspects of my riding and my ability to navigate in challenging conditions. We've also put our bike to the test and now we know which exact points we need to work harder on.

"Probably the most important thing for me is that I took some great confidence in my riding and my speed ahead of the coming Dakar. We have one more event to contest in September and then we're full steam ahead for the big annual event in January."


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Photo credit: Edo Bauer/RallyZone

The event also ended on a high note for Xavier's Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team partner Adrien Van Beveren. Securing a third-place result on the final day, Adrien earned a second consecutive top three stage result at this year's Desafio Ruta 40.


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Photo credit: Edo Bauer/RallyZone


Rockstar Energy Husqvarana Factory Racing's Pablo Quintanilla rode a sensible rally, minimising any big mistakes and risking injury, the Chilean rider placed fourth overall. This result was enough for Quintanilla to move into the Cross-Country Rallies World Championship lead

“I’m glad we have finished the Desafio Ruta 40," admitted Quintanilla. "It turned out to be a pretty hard rally. It was a tough five stages of difficult navigation and off-piste riding. This wasn't my best rally, I am not too happy with my pace over the course of the event. The important thing is I am now leading the championship, which obviously puts me in a good position with only one round remaining.

"I will go home now to recover and then work on my fitness again for the final round in Morocco - hopefully there I can successfully defend my world title.”


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Photo credit: Edo Bauer/RallyZone

Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing's riders did not fare so well over the course of the rally. Previous FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship leader, Sam Sunderland fell from his bike in the middle of Stage Two suffering a concussion. Forced to retire from the rally, Sunderland has lost his lead in the championship, dropping down to third.

"Obviously, it’s been a disappointing day for me," told Sunderland. "After making a small mistake on the road book I was pushing hard to catch up. I hit a big rock in a riverbed and ended up crashing heavily and hitting my head. I got back on and managed to make it to the neutralisation, but unfortunately, I had suffered a concussion and it wasn’t safe for me to continue."

Local rider and rookie to the KTM Factory Team, Luciano benavides, also crashed early on in the event. 

“I am so disappointed," said the Argentinian. "Especially as this is my first rally for the team, I feel I have let them down. I crashed because I couldn’t see in the dust lifted by the riders in front - I went down hard and hurt my shoulder. I have no choice now but to retire from the rally. It’s such a shame to miss the rest of my home event, but I need to concentrate now on my recovery and getting fit again for the next rally.”


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Photo credit: Edo Bauer/RallyZone

It was left to Matthias Walkner to fly the KTM flag. A time penalty on the Prologue meant it would always be difficult for Walkner to challenge for the victory. Despite enduring a very difficult rally, with a lot of riding over extremely rough terrain and through challenging weather conditions, the Austrian came through at the end in one piece, putting his best performance in on the final day in fourth, just off the podium. 

“I knew from the beginning it would be difficult to finish close to where I had expected," told Walkner. "To take a penalty so soon after the start pretty much rules out your chances of a good result. I decided to make the best of things by working on my navigation and speed, two things I need to concentrate on for the run up to the Dakar. I am glad to reach the finish here without hurting myself and now I can go home for some rest and to start training for the next event in Morocco.”

There is now only one round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship remaining – the OiLibya Rally in Morocco. With just six points separating the top-three in the championship, there is everything to play for.


day five results


desafio ruta 40 overall results