The tenth edition of YPF Desafío Ruta 40 showed its toughness from the very first stage. This Monday, the race which has Dakar Series category and which is also valid for the fourth round of FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship, linked the city of San  Miguel de Tucumán and Belén, in the Province of Catamarca in a stage which had 286.51 kilometers at full speed.

The timed section had a fast initial section which took place along Santa María River to give way later to cross-country sectors which proved to be very demanding, both for the competitor and for the vehicles. At the end of the stage, competitors run through Pié de Médano region and its unpredictable dunes with vegetation.

Goncalves took the lead on the two wheels group

Among Bikes, Paulo Goncalves (Honda CRF450) was the day’s fastest with a time of 4h02m05s.  Behind him was Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna FR 450)  0m28s from the lead and Matthias Walkner (KTM 450 Rally)  4m50s later.

“It was a very long and tough stage because there were many rivers and many rocks. It was hard to find the way. I’m happy, but there are four days to go”, the Portuguese rider said. He is also dominating the overall with a total time of 4h08m00s. He is followed by: Quintanilla only 0m27s behind and Monster Energy Honda Team rider, Ricky Brabec 8m35s later.

It was not the best start for Kevin Benavides (Honda CRF450), one of the favorites to win the race.  The Argentinean got to CP3 (located at km193 of the stage) with a head trauma  – he fell down at km131 of the stage-, and after being checked by the organization doctors, they decided not to let him go on due to the shock he was undergoing. He was taken to Belén Hospital, and after several studies, doctors instructed he should stay in hospital until tomorrow.

On the other hand, Martín Duplessis (MEC Team) also had to retire from the stage due to an injury on his leg at km112  of the stage.

Cavigliasso and Mazzucco got a gap at the start

Among 4×2 Quads, Nicolás Cavigliasso (Yamaha Raptor) took the lead with a time of 5h03m56s. Behind him were Jeremías González Ferioli (Yamaha Raptor) 14m.00s behind and Enzo Silva (Yamaha Raptor) 15m.45s later.

“Yesterday I tried to push a little during the prologue so as to have a good position to be able to choose the starting order for today. I think that paid back because we had a good trail to follow, although we had to face the dust, anyway we were able to get a good gap.” the Argentinean rider said. He is leading the overall with a time of 5:09.57 He is 14.17 ahead González Ferioli and 15.57 ahead Silva.

One of the most scaring moments of the day was for Sergio La Fuente. After completing the stage, the Uruguayan rider crashed his Yamaha YFM 700 against a horse and had to be evacuated by helicopter towards Belén to undergo some medical checks.

Meanwhile, among 4×4 Quads, Colombian Nicolás Robledo (Can Am Renegade) had got the best out of the stage, but later he got a penalty for missing several waypoints and thus, Daniel Mazzucco (Can Am Renegade) won Monday’s stage. He was followed by Julio Estanguet (Can Am Renegade) 14m47s away, while the third place was for Martín Sarquíz  21m27s behind. The owner of Can Am Mazzucco Team is ahead in the Overall with a lead of 14m58s over Julio Estanguet, with Sarquíz in the third place 21m50 behind.

Halpern cuts loose in Cars

Sebastán Halpern (Toyota Hilux) was the best among those who managed to “survive” the real odyssey this stage proved to be for cars.  The driver from Mendoza completed the almost 300 timed kilometers with a time of 5h06m26s and is now over 41 minutes ahead his teammate, the Czech Peter Jerie (Toyota Hilux).

“The stage started with many different terrains, very funny and changing, but it started to get complicated afterwards to become really tough later. The dunes with low vegetation along the final kilometers of the stage were very demanding both for our truck as well as for us.  I’m happy to have finished the stage but I know some of those coming behind are going to suffer. A really tough start.” the leader of the race said.

Juan Manuel Silva surprised among the UTV since he got a comfortable win in his category, but he was also able to get to the third place in the Overall in Cars.  The driver from Chaco, had many complications with navigation at WP7 but, anyway managed to go ahead and overcome the numberless obstacles the staged posed.

Andrea Lafarja (Toyota Hilux) managed to overcome the tough first stage and, at the time this material is released, it was the only truck in its category to have reached to the end while the rivals continued fighting in the final kilometers.

Stage 2 Belén – Tinogasta

This Tuesday, the action continues with the second stage between Belén and Tinogasta (both cities located within Catamarca Province). It will have 317.74 kilometers of stage, and it will be almost all the time “offroad”. Dry rivers will have a outstanding role again.

At the end of the stage, competitors will have to overcome a section with soft dunes which are meant to be great challenge for all competitors.