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The final stage in Río Cuarto has brought the Dakar Rally challenge to a close. Monster Energy Honda Team commanded throughout, winning half the stages disputed. Both Joan Barreda – winner of four stages – and Paulo Gonçalves finished among the top riders overall.
The short special stage in Río Cuarto, which wraps up the Dakarian odyssey, did little to change the overnight leaderboard positions. Joan Barreda was the quickest of the Monster Energy Honda Team with a third-place finish on the podium in Buenos Aires. Paulo Gonçalves finished the dusty seventy-kilometre stage in fifth, with Michael Metge ninth.
The overall standings barely reflect the real story, where the Honda CRF450 RALLY was triumphant in half of the stages and dominated over the entire fortnight. Joan Barreda and Paulo Gonçalves’s overall positions were heavily compromised by a one-hour penalty apiece, for an entry in the rulebook that invited different interpretations. Without the sanction, the overall result would have reflected the squad’s clear domination on the track. Monster Energy Honda Team comes away from the event the clear moral victor.
The provisional final rally rankings leave Joan Barreda in fifth position, some 43’08” behind the winner Sam Sunderland to whom the team wish to congratulate. Paulo Gonçalves, posted sixth overall some 52’29” adrift of the first Briton to have won the competition. Michael Metge rounded out the team result with a fourteenth position.
The team wishes to highlight the fine work done by Honda South America Rally Team, whose Argentinean rider Franco Caimi took eighth overall position. In a similar fashion to the result of Team HRC’s Kevin Benavides last year, Caimi picked up the prize for Rookie of the Year.