Monster Energy Honda Team's Paulo GonÌ¤alves has won the opening stage of the 2,285km point to point Desafio Ruta 40 Rally in Argentina ahead of Pablo Quintanilla, Matthias Walkner and Australian Toby Price.
With the scrutineering, the prologue and the ceremonial start out of the way, the DesafÌ_o Ruta 40 headed out of TucumÌÁn and moved into the province of Catamarca before finishing up in BelÌ©n 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.
Paulo GonÌ¤alves, proved to be untouchable on the day. After setting off from fourth place, the portuguese rider set a blistering pace, avoiding the dust en route and crossing the finish line after 4:02:05, a feat which places GonÌ¤alves at the top of the overall standings.
"The stage was long and very difficult with many rivers and a lot of rocks but also a lot of off-piste too," GonÌ¤alves exolained. "I tried to stay focused and by the middle of the race I already had Ricky in sight. I pushed hard and I was able to win the stage. I'm happy but there are a lot of kilometres still to go. We have to be attentive from the beginning to the end and make it to the final goal as best we can. I hope Kevin's fall was not very serious and he can recover soon."