The ninth edition of Desafío Ruta 40 Norte, valid for the 4th round of FIM World Cross Country Rally Championship, 4th round FIA CODASUR Championship and 2nd round of Campeonato Argentino, engaged first with the difficult stage between San Juan and Villa Unión (321.9km timed stage).


Sam Sunderland won the first stage in Desafío Ruta 40 Norte, going from San Juan city to Villa Unión. The latest Dakar champion completed the 322 timed kilometers with a time of 3:40.55 which also put him at the top of the overall. “It was a complicated stage, dusty and difficult to navigate but I was able to get a good time. It was difficult to find a good pace because the road book had many attention points and they were hard to find due to the dust. I´m happy I finished without problems and I´m willing to start the second stage”, Sunderland said.

Paulo Goncalves (3.22 behind) and Kevin Benavides (5.33) on their Hondas came after Sam (Sunderland). Upon arriving to the bivouac, the Argentine rider said: “I felt quite well all day long but 30 km before the finish I fell badly. The bike was quite damaged but fortunately I was able to get to the end. My hand hurts a little.”

The first stage brought several surprises. It was definitely not the day for Yamalube Yamaha Offical Rally Team riders. Mechanical problems caused Franco Caimi (engine) and Adrien Van Beveren to quit the stage. Meanwhile, Luciano Benavides (Red Bull / KTM Factory Racing), although he finished the stage, suffered a fracture in his clavicle.


Among 4X2 quads, Gustavo Gallego was the fastest (5:02.31) and is leading in the Overall.  “It was a stage with many surprises.  I think we were able to have a good navigation, and so it was a nice day”, Yamaha Raptor 700’s rider said.



Among 4×4 quads, Daniel Mazzuco got the first place, with 5:01.44. “It was just the same as one Dakar stage. It was very hard, you had to very careful so as not to make mistakes”, the experienced rider said. He was followed by Lucas Innocente (17.47 diff) and Pablo Novarra (21.46 diff).


Among cars, Argentinean Orly Terranova (T1D) was the fastest after completing the stage in 3:49.14 and he is on top. “It was a very difficult stage as regards navigation. It has nothing to envy of Dakar. The dunes section was great to start feeling the car”, X-raid MINI John Cooper Works Rally Team driver said. He is also on top of the Overall. Among T1G, José Garcia was the stage winner.  “At the beginning we were a bit slow in times. It was hard, in the final 100 kilometers you could well break everything. I´m really happy.” he said.  With his Chevrolet S10 he is second in the Overall in DR40 Norte. Sebastian Halpern (South Racing) is in third place.


On the way to Tinogasta

Stage 2 Villa Unión-Tonigasta (336.91km on stage) will take place on tomorrow. The stage will start at 8:30, and the special thing about it is that the cars will start in line of 3.

The stage will have several changes of terrain. There will be a dune section and an uphill section reaching 3500 meters above sea level. After a neutralization of 80,29km, the caravan will get to Fiambalá dunes.