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Paulo Goncalves at the 2018 Desafio Inca

Gonçalves doubles up with Inca Rally victory

Sep 182018

September 2018 has been a profitable month for Monster Energy Honda’s Paulo Gonçalves in terms of confidence gained on the 2019 factory HRC machine and key set-up ideas and tests as the 2019 Dakar draws ever nearer. The Portuguese veteran followed his recent Desafio Ruta 40 victory in Argentina with further spoils over the weekend to claim the Desafio Inca: a race staged over three days in Peru.

It was the second set of spoils for ‘PG’ but the third on the continent for the Honda team who had managed to hit a high technical stride despite the setbacks of injuries to Joan Barreda and Kevin Benavides. The latter – a 2018 Dakar podiumee and winner in Chile a few weeks ago – was actually back in the frame and clinched the second day of the contest. Gonçalves was able to set himself behind his teammate and emerged the quickest of the field for victory.

“We have finished this important test here in Peru [and] it went very well. I had a starting position that could have complicated things, but Kevin did very well opening the track. I was able to push a lot and those behind weren’t able to catch me. I am happy for myself and for the team. This was a race with riders with a very good pace. You have to stay attentive and not relax. The most important part is still to come.”


The Inca competition was no free-pass; KTM and Yamaha fielded entries with a small group of Honda’s eventual Dakar rivals.


The team’s work continues. A December time frame is fast approaching and when the countdown to Dakar will feel very real. Final shakedowns and ‘training’ lies ahead with the final round of the FIM Cross County Rallies World Championship in Morocco in early October.