Monster Energy Honda Team head for Abu Dhabi as the Cross-Country Rallies World Championship gets un

Monster Energy Honda Team begin the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship campaign this weekend with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Paulo Gonçalves and Kevin Benavides line up for the race.

After kicking off the season successfully with American Ricky Brabec clinching a notable victory at the Sonora Rally, Monster Energy Honda Team now field team-mates Paulo Gonçalves and Kevin Benavides in Abu Dhabi for the start of the world championship. The team returns to the race following last year’s absence.

Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves returns to the action in the Middle East after post-Dakar vacations. Paulo – a previous winner in the 2014 edition – will be looking for a prudent re-entry to racing, particularly as Abu Dhabi presents plenty of potential dangers involving dunes, high-speeds and a high degree of technical navigation.

Argentina’s promising young Kevin Benavides makes an Abu Dhabi debut with a return to competitions after an injury picked up just days before the start of the Dakar 2017. With various right hand fractures behind him the rider from Salta is ready to go full-throttle on the Honda CRF450 RALLY.

The two Monster Energy Honda Team riders are scheduled to take part in every round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship with the first stop at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which gets underway from the Yas Marina on 31st March with the technical and administrative shake-down.

Stage Date Total Km Special Km

Stage 1 2 April 418.96 276.59 Stage 2 3 April 521.18 283.39 Stage 3 4 April 379.90 288.73 Stage 4 5 April 396.42 250.25 Stage 5 6 April 357.25 219.76

Competitors can look forward to over 2000 kilometres of course with 1300 km of special stage against the clock (64% of the total length). The curtain-raising Super Special will get the show up and running on Saturday 1st April and will decide the starting order for the first full-stage in the Liwa Desert. The event wraps up on 6th April at the Yas Marina Circuit.