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Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has placed fourth on the final stage of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40. After a tough start to the event, where a technical issue cost Price around an hour on his rivals, the two-time Dakar winner fought back to ultimately finish in ninth overall and earn himself nine valuable FIM World Rally-Raid Championship points.
The final day of the Desafio Ruta 40 led riders from Belen to the finish at Salta. Totaling 563 kilometers, the stage included a 258-kilometer timed special predominantly made up of fast, WRC-style tracks and climbed to an altitude of 2,500 meters.
Setting off as the fifth competitor into the special, Toby trailed the early leader by just one second at kilometer 42. Keeping his head down and pushing hard on the rocky tracks, the Australian soon opened up an advantage on his rivals, which he further increased all the way to the finish to post the fastest stage time by just under two minutes. However, a six-minute penalty awarded after returning to the bivouac unfortunately dropped the two-time Dakar winner down to fourth.
Despite completing the event strongly, the Desafio Ruta 40 was a frustrating one for Toby. The issue he suffered early on cost him around one hour to the front runners, and although the experienced racer was able to climb back up the leaderboard, he had to settle for ninth overall at the finish, adding nine championship points to his tally. The result drops Toby to second in the series standings where he trails the new leader by nine points.
Toby Price: “Yeah, I’m happy to get through the race all in one piece, but that day two really knocked us back. Unfortunately, it’s probably wrecked the championship for us too. It is what it is, so you just have to swallow it and move on to the next round. Obviously, there’s still a chance and you can be sure I’ll be giving everything in Morocco, but for now it’s frustrating.”
Matthias Walkner, who stepped in to assist his teammate on stage two, was subsequently forced to withdraw from the event due to FIM regulations. The Austrian star will be back in action at round five of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship, the Rallye du Maroc, in mid-October.
Luciano Benavides has finished in second place overall at his home event, the Desafio Ruta 40. Putting in five days of strong performances over the course of the Argentinian rally, the Husqvarna Factory Racing rider completed the event as the top FIM World Rally-Raid Championship competitor, earning himself the full 25 points. In doing so, Benavides now leads the series standings by nine points with one round left to contest.
Stage five of the Desafio Ruta 40 was another long yet fast-paced day in the saddle for all riders. Beginning in an off-trail riverbed section, the route soon transitioned to rocky tracks as it travelled north from Belen to Salta. While the navigation wasn't as challenging as on previous days, competitors still had to remain focused throughout the 258 kilometres of timed special that determined the results.
After delivering three consecutive second-place stage results, followed by his victory on day four, Luciano put in solid but safe ride on today’s special. Choosing not to risk any last-minute mistakes, the 28-year-old steered his FR 450 Rally to ninth. In doing so he secured his overall runner-up result and the all-important first place in the W2RC rankings
Luciano Benavides: “I’m really, really happy. It’s been an amazing race here in Argentina and to finish the race as leader of the world championship is truly something incredible. So now it’s time to celebrate a little bit, a few days of rest, and then full focus on Morocco because I want to do well there and make history as world champion. The fans here have been fantastic, especially on the final stage where they were cheering us into the finish, that felt amazing. I’d love to be able to reward them by claiming the world title.”
Husqvarna Factory Racing returns to FIM World Rally-Raid Championship action at the final round of the series – the Rallye du Maroc, held in Morocco from October 12-18.
The 11th edition of the Desafio Ruta 40 YPF was over today with the arrival of the caravan in Salta, northeast of Argentina. All four riders from the Monster Energy Honda Team reached the end and Dakar winner Ricky Brabec got a podium position. Also riding an Honda CRF 450 Rally, Tosha Shareina won the race, meaning that Honda enlarged its record in this competition with 9 victories out of 11.
For the last stage, riders did a 305 km liaison and 258 km of Special Stage between the cities of Belén and Salta. The margin to recover was short on a fast day of gravel and sand tracks. In the end, the penalties handed down to several riders for exceeding the speed limit in the special made the organization recalculate the results. Schareina, Brabec, Quintanilla, Branch and Dumontier got two minute penalties upon arrival at the bivouac. Price, Benavides and Docherty got 6 minute penalties.
In the overall standings, besides Brabec’s third place Van Beveren finished 5th, Pablo Quintanilla 6 th and José Ignacio Cornejo 7th place.
After the Desafio Ruta 40 YPF in Argentina there is one more stop to go at the World Rally-Raid Championship W2RC: the Morocco Rally will close the season between 13 and 18 of October. It will be a decisive moment for the dispute of the riders and manufacturers titles and Monster Energy Honda Team will certainly play an important role.
General Manager: “This was a great competition and made me remember the Dakars in South America. It was like a small Dakar with a lot of quality in every small detail. Regarding Monster Energy Honda Team today Adrien finally showed his great performance, he was the best. Ricky also did a great race and it was great to see him on the podium. Nacho was sick during the race and could not show his full potential. Pablo was great at the start of every special. In fact this was a great race for us. I want to enlighten here the winning from Tosha Shareina, he is a Honda satelite rider and made a great race. ”
Ricky Brabec 2: “We have finished the rally and it was a good week with a brutal first day of course with some issues but fought through them and managed to finish off Ruta 40. It feels good to be back in South America and after this week I think I am looking forward to coming back here next year. Today it was a close stage that I almost won, but then I got a penalty. ”
Adrien Van Beveren 42: “Today was a better day for me. The first part was really stony and I tried to stay safe. The second part I could push hard like a WRC track, a bit like Andalucia. I won the stage and with this at least I am not going home with my empty pockets. It's good! Now let’s focus on Morocco and on the possibility of winning the title.”
Pablo Quintanilla 7: “This was not a good race for me, I had to face many issues and felt limited. I could not race at my usual level but I am sure I gave my best. Even so I know I gave my best and this is very important. We need to keep the focus and work hard everyday even if things are not going the way we want. Now we have Morocco and my mind is already there and also in the Dakar preparation”.
José Ignacio Cornejo 11: “We have finished Ruta 40 and this was a tough rally as always. I was feeling pretty good the first couple of days, feeling comfortable with the bike. Then I got a flu and some kind of virus in the end and could not race the same way. I tried to do my best, it was not easy but that is rally. ”
Overdrive Racing’s Yacopini and Al-Rajhi finish second and third
Toyota Gazoo Racing clinches W2RC Manufacturers’ Championship
Eugenio Amos and Denis Krotov reach Salta in fourth and 10th
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah closed in on his second successive FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) title on a gruelling six-day Desafío Ruta 40 where Overdrive Racing-run Toyota Hiluxes filled the top four positions in the general classification.
Despite a series of punctures and broken suspension, Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel led from the start in La Rioja to the finish in Salta, won the Prologue and four of the five timed selective sections to record a winning margin of 22min 03sec over the Overdrive Racing duo of Argentine Juan-Cruz Yacopini and his Spanish co-driver Daniel Oliveras. Baumel duly clinched a second successive Co-drivers’ title.
Al-Attiyah now has a massive 51-point cushion over Toyota team-mate Yazeed Al-Rajhi in the Drivers’ Championship, while the result means Toyota Gazoo Racing has now clinched the W2RC Manufacturers’ Championship after wins at the Dakar, Sonora Rally and Desafío Ruta 40 for Al-Attiyah and success in Abu Dhabi for Al-Rajhi.
Al-Attiyah’s maiden win was the second for an overseas driver at the Desafío Ruta 40 to follow on from Spaniard Joan Roma’s victory in 2013. He said: “It’s nice to win the race. I’m happy to win. It’s great to be in Argentina again, the stages are spectacular, the organisation did a great job. We don’t feel any different from the last time we raced here with the Dakar.”
Yacopini won his first ever W2RC stage on day three and moved up to third in the Drivers’ Championship after an impressive performance on his home event.
Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk rounded off the podium places in the second of the Overdrive Racing Toyotas to retain second place in the Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ Championships. Punctures also blighted the Saudi’s progress but he pushed Al-Attiyah hard on several stages and may well have finished second had be not lost considerable time on stage two.
Overdrive Racing also ran a Toyota Hilux for the Italian duo of Eugenio Amos and Paolo Ceci, although they were not registered for the W2RC. Amos reached the finish in fourth overall.
Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov crewed the last of the Overdrive Racing Toyotas. They lost considerable time after a crash on of the first of the selective sections and spent the rest of the event playing catch up from the rear of the field. They completed the rally in 10th overall.
The competitive action got underway with a short nine-kilometre Prologue stage at La Rioja at the foot of the Velasco Sierras. Al-Attiyah set his stall from the outset, the Qatari beating Toyota team-mate Al-Rajhi by eight seconds. Yacopini, Krotov and Amos were classified seventh, 11th and 13th in the other three Overdrive Racing Hiluxes.
Despite running behind Al-Rajhi in the virtual times, and with rear suspension concerns for much of the opening 334km selective section that looped through terrain to the south of La Rioja, Al-Attiyah beat the Saudi by 1min 06sec to increase his overall advantage after opting to start the stage from fourth on the road.
Yacopini came home in fourth, Amos was ninth and Krotov was 16th after a crash, although Amos had stopped for a short time at the scene of Krotov’s crash after 316km and was later handed 3min 08.9sec back by rally officials.
Al-Rajhi said: “It was a good day. Me and Timo did a great job and also the team. Everything was going well but, 50km before the finish, we had a puncture and we lost 50 seconds. We enjoy the battle with Nasser. We came for that.”
Stage two ran for 340km between La Rioja and Belén and featured fast, winding tracks, the crossing of a great chott, fesh-fesh and an area of large sand dunes. A section of soft sand in a stretch of dunes awaited the cars between km250 and km270 in Catamarca and Al-Attiyah, Al-Rajhi and Yacopini all hit trouble.
Yacopini lost the least time and the Argentine went on to claim his first ever W2RC stage win by 10min 27sec, the feat all the more satisfying on home soil. Al-Attiyah saw his overall lead shrink to just 17 seconds after breaking the rear suspension and later sustaining five flat tyres with only two spares. Yacopini climbed to second and Al-Rajhi slumped to fourth after collecting four flat tyres himself.
Yacopini said: “I am very happy to win my first stage of the World Championship in Argentina. We had been working hard and knew it was coming. We were very focused because we knew we could overtake several riders and quads and, when we caught up with Nasser, we were happy, because it is not easy to do that.”
Al-Attiyah said: “On the second part of the stage we broke the rear suspension and immediately after that we had two punctures together, front and rear. In total, we had five punctures so we lost a lot of time stopping. I am pleased with how we finished because it was tricky to manage the flat tyres.”
The third stage of 266km looped through terrain around the Belén bivouac and included two small dune sectors, river crossings, fast tracks and some stony terrain in the Pie de Médano region. It was back to business as usual for Al-Attiyah, who finished the stage 1min 41sec quicker than Al-Rajhi and over 10 minutes ahead of Yacopini to increase his lead to 10min 28sec. Al-Rajhi and Amos climbed to third and fourth overall after troubles for Mattias Ekström on the stage that climbed to over 2,600 metres above sea level.
The fourth stage of 345km looped around the Belén bivouac, contained a number of tricky dunes and saw Al-Attiyah and Al-Rajhi locked in a duel for supremacy from the outset. The Qatari edged the win by just 2min 14sec to increase his lead over Yacopini to 15min 42sec, as Toyotas filled five of the top six positions on the day.
The final stage of 258km ran between Belén and the finish in Salta and featured off-road sections over sandy surfaces and then more traditional, fast and flowing WRC-style tracks. Al-Rajhi had Yacopini’s second place in his sights until he dropped time before the 78km checkpoint on a stage where Al-Attiyah was again dominant and collected another haul of bonus points on his way to a first ever victory at the Desafío Ruta 40.
Yacopini held his nerve to finish second with the fifth quickest time on the last stage, while Al-Rajhi and Amos secured third and fourth and Krotov was fourth fastest on his way to 10th overall.
The final round of the FIA World Rally Raid Championship takes place in Morocco on October 12th-18th.
Desafío Ruta 40 – final result (top 10): 1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota GR DKR Hilux 15hr 10min 03sec 2. Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Oliveras (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 15hr 32min 06sec 3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 15hr 40min 30sec 4. Eugenio Amos (ITA)/Paulo Ceci (ITA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 16hr 05min 57sec* 5. Mitch Guthrie (USA)/Kellon Walch (USA) MCE-5 4x4 (T3) 16hr 22min 31sec *denotes not registered for W2RC
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has secured fifth place on the grueling stage four of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40. With one day of racing remaining at the Argentinian event – the fourth and penultimate round of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship – the Australian lies ninth overall and will be aiming for another solid day’s racing tomorrow to climb further up the standings.
Stage four of the Desafio Ruta 40 took riders on another loop starting and ending at the bivouac in Belen. The 345-kilometre special began with a twisting riverbed, leading into a sandy region dotted with camel grass. Following a lengthy transfer, the riders then tackled the renowned Fiambala dunes, an area previously featured in the iconic Dakar Rally.
Battling to recover from his stage two technical setback, Price delivered another impressive performance on today's special, claiming a top-five finish and advancing in the standings. Although he entered the Desafio Ruta 40 as the championship leader, early issues set the Australian racer back. However, Toby's consistent improvement stage-after-stage demonstrates his determination to maximize his championship points and take the fight into the fifth and final round in Morocco.
Toby Price: “It’s been a better day for me today. I got through it all pretty well, but the bonus time for leading out is definitely a big advantage here in Argentina – it’s tough to make up time on those boys. I can’t do too much from the back of the field, I’m just trying to stay smooth and consistent, and finish safe each day. There’s one more day to go, so the goal, as always, is to keep it on two wheels and make it to the end.”
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