Monster Energy Honda Team’s Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves has clinched the overall victory in the Desafío Ruta 40, the fourth round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Ricky Brabec finished fifth.
The final stage of the Desafío Ruta 40, from Villa Union to San Juan, featured two-hundred kilometres of special timed stage and saw Toby Price win the stage by over three-minutes. The huge final charge by the Red Bull KTM rider saw him come within six-seconds of overhauling Goncalves for the overall win.
“Today was great. We pushed right from the start to try and make up the time to Paulo (Goncalves). Everything went well on the stage; the bike was good and I was really pleased with my riding. I tried my best but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough and I lost out on the overall by the smallest of margins. All-in-all the rally has been good, the team have once again done an excellent job and our performance has been really consistent over the last couple of races here in South America. We’ve earned some good points for the championship, so we’ll see what happens at the final round.”
Goncalves had posted second on the final day to claim the top step of the overall podium in what will go down as one of the toughest ever rallies.
“I am very happy with the victory here in Argentina. I came with the idea of continuing to improve my pace after a long time without racing and in the end we were able to win the rally. I think yesterday’s stage was the key day. Today was a stretch with some navigation and I tried to use the advantage I had, but I think I managed to stay quite relaxed. I am happy for myself, and also for all my team-mates and for the guys who got injured, Kevin and Mathias Bellino – we hope they can recover quickly. This victory is for them too. We will now try to improve the pace a bit to get the Dakar right. The race in general was tough, but that second day was too much. From the physical point of view it has been a great test for me. The rivals are very strong and that forced us to give our best to win.”
With the points earned from their results at this year’s Desafio Ruta 40 Toby Price now sits in provisional second place in the championship standings.
Pablo Quintanilla is now leading the series standings by eight points over second-placed Toby Price. Failing to finish outside the top-three in any of the events he has contested this year, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider will head to the season finale in October determined to become the 2018 World Champion.
Before heading to the World Championship finale in October, most rally raiders will contest the 2018 Desafio Inka rally in Peru on September 14/16.
“I did my best battling for the overall podium today and it was a great relief to learn that I made it. We raced through some sandy terrain and it was hard to make up time to the leading group of riders. There were times I wasn’t feeling comfortable to push, so I decided to keep it steady, avoid mistakes and bring my Husqvarna to the finish of this exhausting rally. Getting on the box here in Argentina is a great result that gives me the points I need to get a clear lead in the championship. We now have one more round to go – the Morocco Rally in October – and I will do my best to defend my title for a third consecutive season.”
2018 Desafio Ruta 40 Rally Stage Five Results
PRICE Toby AUS KTM 1:57’03
GONCALVES Paulo Honda +3’22
BRABEC Ricky Honda +5’04
QUINTANILLA Husqvarna +7’15
WALKNER KTM +11’24
2018 Desafio Ruta 40 Rally
Overall Final Standings
GONCALVES Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 17:06’02
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