Desafío Ruta 40 – Monster Energy Honda Team primed
2018 Cross-Country Rallies Round FIM-4 , 1
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.