Sonora Rally 2023:Sanders takes maiden win as Al-Attiyah vaults into championship lead

Sonora Rally 2023:Sanders takes maiden win as Al-Attiyah vaults into championship lead

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In the motorbike category, Daniel Sanders (Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing) scored his first W2RC win in Mexico. Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) finished third and tightened his grip on the championship lead with 62 points. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna Factory Racing) finished ahead of him and climbed to second in the overall standings, with 55 points, relegating Adrien Van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda) to third place with 53.
In the car category, Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) grabbed his second victory of the year, following the Dakar, and took over the championship lead for the first time this season with 136 points to his name. Sébastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) slipped to third place, with 101 points, after bowing out of the race in stage 3. Yazeed Al Rajhi (Overdrive Racing), the runner-up in Sonora, is sandwiched between the two titans with 106 points.
The Sonora Rally was the third of the five rounds on the calendar, marking the halfway point of the championship. The next leg will take place in the south of the Americas, where the Desafío Ruta 40 will run in Argentina from August 26 to September 1.



Daniel Sanders won the final stage of the Sonora Rally, bringing his total to four specials out of five. It was only the Australian's third W2RC race. After the 2022 Dakar, which he had left with a broken elbow after the rest day, the young GasGas rookie had only reappeared in the 2023 Dakar. Still nursing an aching arm last January, "Chucky" skipped the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC). He burst back onto the stage with his first FIM world championship win, the third for GasGas, after Sunderland's victories in the Dakar and ADDC in 2022. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna Factory Racing) continued his progression with second place. Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was disappointed at the end of the race. The veteran on the orange squad had given it his all to catch up with the front-runners following his navigation woes in stage 1. Opening the road in the finale, he managed to gain an edge over Luciano before another navigation blunder put paid to his chances just before the finish. Price ended up third. Leading the championship since the second round, the official KTM rider will find solace in his expanded margin at the top of the standings (66 points). Luciano Benavides moved up to second place (55 points) at the expense of Adrien Van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda). The Frenchman, the victor of the second round, finished fifth in the event and is now third (53 points). Kevin Benavides (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who won the Dakar but missed the second round, came in eleventh, good enough to limit the damage to just one place lost in the standings. The Argentinian is now fourth (43 points) and will be able to race firing on all cylinders at home when he plays on home turf at the end of August. Like him, Sanders had sat out the previous leg. His victory in the Sonora Rally propelled him to fifth place (39 points).

In the manufacturers' standings, KTM stretched its lead (113 points) thanks to the third and fourth place of Price and Walkner, who raked in a total of 29 points. Van Beveren and Ricky Brabec, who crossed the line fifth and seventh, respectively, earned Honda 20 points, the same amount that Luciano Benavides snatched for Husqvarna. Despite Skyler Howes's withdrawal, HVA held on to its third place and its 20-point gap over the reds.

In Rally2, Romain Dumontier (HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing) completed a clean sweep. The Frenchman finished with 17′47″ in hand over Jacob Argubright (Duust Diverse Racing) and 36′08″ over Paolo Lucci (BAS World KTM Racing). In the overall, the Italian clung on to the top of the championship, with 66 points versus 63 for "Dudu", who skipped the second round after his victorious Dakar campaign. Argubright followed the exact same path in climbing to fourth place (35 points), behind Jean-Loup Lepan (45 points).

In the first round of the Rally3 calendar, the Italian Massimo Camurri (25 points) prevailed over the Austrian Ardit Kurtaj (20 points) and the American Alexander Chepurko (16 points). In the quad category, the leader of the championship, Laisvydas Kancius, expanded his lead (69 points). The former Dakar winner Pablo Copetti (38 points), who did not race in Mexico, held on to his second place. Rodolfo Guillioli moved up to third place (33 points).


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Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) bounced back from a barrel roll in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC) and got back on track in Mexico. The reigning world champion from Qatar clinched the Sonora Rally, his second win of the year, after the Dakar, and seized the lead of the championship (136 points) for the first time this season. Sébastien Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme), who had landed in Hermosillo in the overall lead, had to bow out in stage 3 after a crash that left his co-driver, Fabian Lurquin, with an injured shoulder. The Frenchman went home empty-handed and dropped to third place (101 points) Guerlain Chicherit (GCK Motorsport), who withdrew from the ADDC too, was unable to finish stage 4 due to an electrical issue in the other Hunter machine. Yazeed Al Rajhi (Overdrive Racing), the winner in the Emirates, finished second in the race, 6′22″ behind the reigning world champion, squeezing the Saudi in between Al Attiyah and Loeb in second place in the championship standings (106 points). The Mini JCWs of the X-raid clan took third and fourth place in the Sonora Rally. Sebastián Halpern drove his car onto the podium in the best W2RC performance of his career so far. After his fifth place at the ADDC, the Argentinian climbed to fourth place in the championship (74 points), just before the Desafío Ruta 40, where he will have the home advantage. With his fourth place in San Luis, Denis Krotov bagged his first points this season (22 points) and entered the standings in fourteenth place overall.

In the manufacturers' standings, the one-two finish of Al Attiyah and Al Rajhi's Hiluxes helped Toyota to extend its lead (175 points). X-raid Mini JCW jumped from fourth to second place (107 points) thanks to the collective effort of the drivers of the new German T1+. BAIC ORV (100 points) leapfrogged Bahrain Raid Xtreme (90 points) for third place. RX is fourth, with a meager harvest from Chicherit's 21st place.

In T3, Mitch Guthrie (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA) won his duel with Mattias Ekström (South Racing Can-Am) in the final stage. The American took the Sonora Rally ahead of the Swede. In the general standings, the three drivers of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA still top the leader board, but the differences are negligible! Austin Jones, third in Mexico, holds the lead by just one point (146 points). Seth Quintero defended his second place despite a lackluster performance caused by a wheel ripped off in the first stage (145 pts). Mitch Guthrie netted 45 points and ascended to 126 points, still in third position. "Chaleco" López and Cristina Gutiérrez, their seniors from the Red Bull Can-Am Factory team, are tied on 78 points behind the American trio.

In T4, Rokas Baciuška (Red Bull Can-Am Factory) completed a whitewash of the Mexican stages. The Lithuanian won the race ahead of Rebecca Busi (FN Speed) and Shinuke Umeda (Polaris Xtrem +), soaring to 189 points in the general standings, 103 more than his closest rival. He only needs another 7 points on Eryk Goczał, the Dakar champion, who is focusing on his studies this year, to seal the deal. This could happen as soon as the next round, which would make him the first champion of the season



Source A.S.O / W2RC
Photos: A.S.O/DPPI/J.Delfosse

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