Aug 30, 2018
Kevin Benavides falls
A bittersweet first stage of the Desafío Ruta 40 for Monster Energy Honda Team. Kevin Benavides, one of the hot favourites for an overall win, was forced to retire after taking a heavy fall. Nevertheless, the winning laurels went to team-mate Paulo Gonçalves, riding the longest stage of Ruta 40.
With the scrutineering, the prologue and the ceremonial start out of the way, the Desafío Ruta 40 headed out of Tucumán and moved into the province of Catamarca before finishing up in Belén in a tough, complicated and gruelling stage. The roadbook read 286.51 kilometres of timed special out of a total of 573.42 kilometres on the day. Riders faced a special that included several rivers, a fair amount of rocks and off-road stretches which presented some serious dangers.
In one of these hazardous zones, at kilometre 200, Kevin Benavides came a cropper, falling and suffering concussion after a blow to the head. After the rider had battled on to CP3, medics refused to allow the local hero to continue and promptly whisked him off to the hospital in Belén to undergo tests.
Benavides’ stable-mate at Monster Energy Honda Team, Portuguese stalwart Paulo Gonçalves, proved to be untouchable on the day. After setting off from fourth place, the rider set a blistering pace, avoiding the dust en route and crossing the finish line after 4:02:05, a feat which places Gonçalves at the top of the overall standings.
American Ricky Brabec fared well after being lumbered with opening the track. The rider took the opportunity to continue gaining navigational experience, leading the field until he was eventually caught by Gonçalves. Nevertheless Brabec managed to post fifth place on the day.
The wild-card of the team, Mathias Bellino, got his first taste of the rally and made it through to the finish with some mistake unimportant in his first stage with the Honda CRF450 RALLY. Every kilometre of the tough slog would have served as a deep learning curve. The Frenchman arrived in Belén to post the seventh fastest time of the day.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, the race heads towards southwest, arriving in the town of Tinogasta in the province of Catamarca. The second stage will have an initial liaison section of 11.47 kilometres before the 166.81-kilometre timed special stage. After a neutralization section of some 3.7 kilometres, the day’s second special begins at 147.24 kilometres. After a final 84.61-kilometre liaison section competitors will find themselves at the bivouac in Tinogasta.
Paulo Goncalves 4
STAGE: 1st OVERALL: 1st
Ricky Brabec 15
STAGE: 5th OVERALL: 5th
Provisional Results Stage 1
provisional Standings after Stage 1
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