GCK Motorsport's Guerlain Chicherit heads toward the finish of the Sonora Rally
The newest rally in the World Rally Raid Championship, the Sonora Rally in Mexico, has concluded with three Prodrive run Hunters across the finish line after a rally including stage victory, stunning vistas, searing heat and some genuine misfortune rolled into one. Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin had bad luck with an off on stage three that cruelly put them out of the world championship lead, while the brand new Hunters of the X Rally Team, in the hands of the Baumgart brothers, had fantastic top three stage finishes and almost a stage win on the last stage. A stunning achievement.
The final run up north on Friday to the USA/Mexico border town of San Luis Del Colorado saw Cristian Baumgart/Beco Andreotti leading his brother Marco with first and second times at 75 kms of the 139 kms stage. The sting in the tail were some sand dunes that led to Cristian getting stuck with Marcos also getting stuck as he helped his brother out. What would’ve been a truly fantastic stage victory slipped away within sight of the finish but on only their first World Rally Raid Championship event, it bodes fantastically well for their push towards taking the cars to the Sertoes Rally at home in Brazil and then on to the Dakar in 2024.
GCK Motorsport's front running Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq, in their Prodrive Hunter, again shot across the sandy tracks but after a problem yesterday had to start low down the order as is the rule in rally raid. However, soon they were scything through clouds of dust kicked up by cars ahead of them to salvage 6th place at the line, an impressive and brave feat in the circumstances.
All three cars that finished today are of the same specification to the Bahrain Raid Xtreme Hunter of Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin that will return to the WRRC stages once Fabian has recovered from a fractured shoulder after the unlucky crash on stage three when the car took a big tumble down into a dry riverbed.
All at Bahrain Raid Xtreme and Prodrive thank you organisers of the Sonora Rally for bringing a new adventure to the world stage. New stages, different terrains, helpful people on event and a million cacti!
Guerlain Chicherit - GCK Motorsport: “Again we had the speed, in fact, my name is speed! Once more the car was really good out there as I know I have the right speed all the time without taking any risk and without needing to push. However, with this sport if you have a problem on one day you pay the ‘tax’ the day after when you start low down the order in the dust of so many others. We were very fast where we could see but it’s hard to get past others, even with the sentinel, sometimes losing 20 kms to get past a car. Overall the result hurts because we restarted with time penalties but we still have the speed in the Hunter and we’re not finished yet.”
Cristian Baumgart - X Rally: “Almost, hey! Just 25 kms from the finish we saw Marcos & Kleber stuck so we stopped to help them to get them moving so we lost a lot of time. Unbelievably we then got stuck trying to getting them out, but that happens unfortunately. For us we know we can drive fast as we learnt a lot about the car and about navigation, so mission accomplished. The car is great and the treatment we got from the team was something very special so thank you all at BRX and Prodrive; for sure we will be rallying together for some time. Thank you.”
Marcos Baumgart - X Rally: “Very nice again, very good in there. We were really pushing as much as we could but we had a puncture and lost a bit of time but we had a great rally in the bigger scheme of things. First time in the Hunter and we were top three on stages against world champions and rally heroes; that’s very cool and remember what I said on the first day; This car is from another planet.”
Gus Beteli, BRX Team Principal: “Another experience for the team and the Hunter in the World Rally Raid Championship but obviously not the result we wanted as our aim was to keep our championship lead with Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin. However we are taking home yet more positives regarding the speed of the car on these stages with GCK Motorsport and the X Rally team at their first ever drive in the car. They led some sections, finished second and third on stages showing what the car can do even with their limited time behind the wheel so we hope to keep that pace up for the rest of the championship and try to win as many events as we can.”
SONORA RALLY , FINAL POSITIONS
Christian Baumgart/Beco Andreotti - Prodrive Hunter - 7th +1h 12m 26s
Marcos Baumgart/Kleber Cincea - Prodrive Hunter - 9th +1h 25m 16s
Guerlain Chicherit/Alex Winocq - Prodrive Hunter - 11th +18h 28m 45s
Sébastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin - Prodrive Hunter - DNF