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Desafio Ruta 40 2023: Luciano Benavides snatches maiden W2RC win

Desafio Ruta 40 2023: Luciano Benavides snatches maiden W2RC win

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  • Among the RallyGP motorbikes competing in the W2RC, Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna Factory Racing) took his maiden win in a W2RC round, edging out Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda) and Ross Branch (Hero MotoSports). Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) surrendered his W2RC lead to Luciano Benavides, now in the hot seat with 80 points to the Australian's 71. Adrien Van Beveren remains third with 66.
  • Honda (128 points) snatched the lead from KTM (122) in the manufacturers' championship.
  • In Rally2, Bradley Cox (BAS World KTM Racing) opened his account in a W2RC round. Romain Dumontier (Husqvarna HT Rally Raid) moved into the championship lead with 79 points. The Frenchman toppled Paolo Lucci (BAS World KTM Racing), stuck with 66 points following his withdrawal from the race. Jean-Loup Lepan (Duust Rally) is still third, now with 58 points.
  • In Rally3, Ardit Kurtaj (Xraids Experience) emerged victorious from his duel with Mauricio Cueva. The Austrian, second in Mexico, now has 45 championship points, enough to defend his lead in the category.
  • Manuel Andújar trounced his adversaries —Rodolfo Guillioli and Juraj Varga— in the quad race, winning the first round of the season that he managed to complete. However, Laisvydas Kancius retained the championship lead with 69 points to Guillioli's 43 and Pablo Copetti's 38.

Luciano Benavides scored his first W2RC victory on home soil after his podium finishes in Sonora this year and Morocco last season. The Argentinian is the new leader of the W2RC with 80 points to Price's 71. The Australian, who suffered a mechanical in stage 2, owed his survival in the race only to the generosity of his teammate Matthias Walkner, who gave him his part out on the track. Price lost an hour in this whole fiasco and spent the remaining three stages in damage control mode. Seventh in the W2RC ranking of the DR40, he will head home with a meagre haul of 9 points —not enough to resist the rise of the Albiceleste, who took 25 points with his win, but sufficient to keep Adrien Van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda) at bay, The Frenchman finished fourth in the RallyGP W2RC with 66 points to his name, 5 fewer than Price. Ross Branch (Hero MotoSports), third in the RallyGP W2RC in Salta, ousted Kevin Benavides (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) from fourth place in the championship. The Botswanan now has 45 points to 43 for the 2023 Dakar champion, who had to skip the race due to injury.

Monster Energy Honda took over from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in the manufacturers' ranking. Without Walkner at his side, Price was hopelessly outnumbered by the four factory HRCs. The Australian scooped up 9 points in Argentina. Brabec and VBA garnered 33 points for the brand with the wing logo. Luciano Benavides netted Husqvarna Factory Racing 25 points. Ross Branch scored 16 points for Hero MotoSports, whereas his teammate Sebastian Bühler went home empty-handed after retiring from the race. The reds now lead the overall with 128 points to the orange maker's 122. Husqvarna has 114 points. The Indian firm has 64. GasGas remained stuck at 39 following Sunderland's withdrawal.

In Rally2, Michael Docherty turned heads this week with consistent performances that placed him at the same level as the best RallyGP entrants, but a small mechanical in stage 2 knocked him out of contention for the DR40. However, when it is not one South African, it is the other, and it was his teammate Bradley Cox who stormed to victory. Alfie Cox's son claimed his first W2RC round victory. In the championship, the BAS World KTM Racing riders' failure to complete every round on the calendar has kept them away from the business end of their category. Romain Dumontier (Husqvarna HT Rally Raid) will be flying out of Argentina in the lead of the Rally2 championship. The Frenchman was just 3 points behind then-leader Paolo Lucci (BAS World KTM Racing) and capitalised on the Italian's withdrawal as a result of a crash to move into the lead with 79 points. Lucci is now second, still with 66 points. Jean-Loup Lepan (Duust Rally Raid) also defended his overall podium spot wile drawing closer to Lucci with 58 points.

In Rally 3, Ardit Kurtaj claimed the DR40 and snapped up 25 points. The Xraids Experience has already earned 20 points with second place in the Sonora Rally. He is on track to fulfil his ambition of winning the Rally3 FIM Rally-Raid World Cup. The Albanian-born rider has 45 points to Massimo Camurri's 25 and Mauricio Cueva's 20.

In the quad race, Manuel Andújar ran rings around his championship rivals —Rodolfo Guillioli and Juraj Varga— day in, day out, winning the first round of the season that he managed to complete. This lack of consistency means that he is nowhere to be found near the top of the championship, but the Argentinian 2021 Dakar champion has marked the finale in red on his calendar and could land another big haul there. In the meantime, Laisvydas Kancius retained the championship lead with 69 points to Guillioli's 43 and Pablo Copetti's 38.

The Road to Dakar Challenge rewards the top-ranked amateurs in the Rally2 and T4 categories in each W2RC round with free registration for the 2024 Dakar. Santiago Rostan and fellow Argentinians Juan José Semino and Gonzalo Oltra earned their tickets to Saudi Arabia in Salta. The first round of the 2024 FIA-FIM World Rally-Raid Championship unveiled its calendar yesterday. The Desafío Ruta 40 will again be part of the programme as the fourth race of the season, albeit from 2 to 8 June.

Coming soon in the W2RC - Rallye du Maroc from 12 to 18 October:
27 September: closing date for entries
11 and 12 October: administrative and technical scrutineering in Agadir
13 October: prologue in Agadir
14–18 October: 5 stages between Agadir and Merzouga

 

Source W2RC/ASO
A.S.O/DPPI/J.Delfosse

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