The fifth and final day of the Qatar Rally – the second round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – has concluded with Paulo Gonçalves in runner-up position. Kevin Benavides likewise placed among rally’s elite with a fifth overall position.
Monster Energy Honda Team close one of the toughest dates in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies calendar after a noteworthy performance. The overall victory might have evaded the team, but a high-level, hitch-free display and reliable bike performance mean the squad comes home with a more than positive scorecard.
The fourth special disputed on the final fifth stage today linked the north-eastern and south-eastern areas of the Qatari peninsula with a total of 343 kilometres against the clock. The day got off to a start over rocky terrain before finishing in the dunes of the Sealine seafront area.
Argentinean Kevin Benavides started the proceedings in second position on the Honda CRF450 RALLY, determined to thwart the attack of the pursuing pack. The group, with the advantage of being able to follow his tracks and make up time, were however, unable to catch him. Kevin conceded less than six minutes to the stage winner Pablo Quintanilla.
For Paulo Gonçalves, Monster Energy Honda Team’s Portuguese rider, the day was all about consolidating his second overall position. Paulo got off to a brisk start and held a swift pace throughout, eating five minutes into the time of the race’s eventual overall winner Sam Sunderland. The runner-up spot in Qatar has elevated Gonçalves up to third place in the championship standings, while Benavides leaps from fifteenth to ninth.
Next date for the Monster Energy Honda Team in the world championship will be the Atacama Rally, the third event, in Chile, from 12th to 18th August.
Paulo Goncalves STAGE: 2ND +0’08 OVERALL: 2ND +7.42 We have finished the second race of the world championship and it is always positive to finish a race on the podium. It was an interesting race on all levels: it was competitive, physical and required a lot of navigation. It was hard in all of these respects. I’m happy because I kept a high level throughout the rally. I finished second and I’m very happy with the bike, the team and all the work we have done too. We have good sensations to keep on working with and we will be all fired up for the next rally.
Kevin Benavides STAGE: 6TH +5’49 FINAL: 5TH +17’48 I’m very happy to have finished the race in fifth overall position. Today I started out ahead and it was very difficult to make a difference strategically, as there was so much navigation to be done. I’m pleased because I gave it 100% even through I’m not physically at full fitness. It was a lot of hours on the bike on other types of terrain with a lot of navigation to find a good pace. Now it’s time to go back home and do a deep analysis of the whole week and continue working towards the next race.
Results Stage 5
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap 1 QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team 3:46’55 2 GONCALVES Paulo POR Monster Energy Honda Team +0’08 3 WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team +2’52 4 RENET Pierre-Alexandre FRA Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +3’01 5 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR KTM Factory Racing Team +5’00 6 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team +5’49 7 GIEMZA Maciej POL KTM Orlen Rally Team +42’11 8 MEO Antoine FRA KTM Factory Racing Team +42’36 9 TOMICZEK Adam POL KTM Orlen Rally Team +51’07 10 ALBALOOSHI Mohammed UAE Ride to Abu Dhabi Team +54’01 Rider Standings
FINAL STANDINGS QATAR RALLY 2017
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap 1 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR KTM Factory Racing Team 15:50’18 2 GONCALVES Paulo POR Monster Energy Honda Team +7’42 3 WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team +13’11 4 QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +15’02 5 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team +17’48 6 RENET Pierre-Alexandre FRA Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +20’01 7 MEO Antoine FRA KTM Factory Racing Team +2:18’25 8 ALBALOOSHI Mohammed UAE Ride to Abu Dhabi Team +3:34’36 9 TOMICZEK Adam POL KTM Orlen Rally Team +4:33’25 10 GIEMZA Maciej POL KTM Orlen Rally Team +5:31’28