Saturday, July 13, 2024

2023 Desafio Ruta 40: Despite Docherty dominance, Bradley Cox triumphs in Rally2

Michael Docherty impressed in his return to the World Rally-Raid Championship at the Desafío Ruta 40 after missing the last two rounds due to injury, even if the final results don’t reflect it.

He won three stages in the Rally2 category, outscoring rival and BAS World KTM team-mate Bradley Cox‘s two, but was out of the overall picture in Stage #2 after shrubs yanked the fuel pump supply connector off his bike with fifty kilometres before the finish. Unable to get the bike fixed in time, he was forced to withdraw from the stage. While Rally2 riders are allowed to continue the rally after a stage retirement provided they can repair their bike (a luxury not granted for the top-level RallyGP class), bowing out of a leg results in a hefty time penalty that eliminates them from the overall.

Docherty returned to the race for the second half with a vengeance by claiming two more stage wins. He especially impressed in Stage #4 as he finished fourth among all bikes, keeping pace with eventual RallyGP champion Tosha Schareina as he did on the first day. Of course, due to his DNF, he had to settle for fifteenth overall.

With Docherty out of the picture, Konrad Dąbrowski and Romain Dumontier became Cox’s main challengers for the rest of the race but were still too far back to mount enough of a charge. Entering the final stage, Dąbrowski trailed Cox by nine minutes and forty seconds, and failed to close the gap as Cox instead won the leg to ice the victory. Despite a navigation mistake, a flurry of RallyGP penalties allowed Cox to finish Stage #5 in fifth for all riders.

The victory is Cox’s first in W2RC competition and his second at a 2023 international rally raid; his first of the latter came at the Taklimakan Rally in China in June. His overall time of 17:01:01 put him eighth in the overall bike classification.

While finishing eleven minutes back of Cox, Dąbrowski still recorded his first W2RC podium.

Dumontier’s third was a strong conclusion to a race that began in disaster. He suffered a mechanical failure partway through the Prologue that necessitated an engine change, resulting in a fifteen-minute time penalty, followed by crashing and having another minute tacked on for speeding in Stage #1. While he was too far back to catch Cox, he could have flipped with Dąbrowski for second had the penalties not occurred.

Nonetheless, the podium allows the Dakar Rally and Sonora Rally winner to regain the W2RC Rally2 points lead from Paolo Lucci. Lucci suffered a hard crash in Stage #2 that prevented him from continuing.

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge W2RC victor Jean-Loup Lepan remains third in points with a fourth, while Prologue winner Diego Llanos placed fifth as the highest-finishing rider not competing for points. Juan Santiago Rostan was sixth and clinched free registration for the 2024 Dakar Rally.

Behind Rostan, Dakar veteran Sebastián Urquía was seventh; Urquía won the Group N class at the last DR 40 in 2018. Iván Martín, the reigning M2 champion of Argentina’s domestic rally regularity series Campeonato Argentino de Rally y Navegación (CaNav), finished thirteenth overall.

Lucci and Jeremías Pascual were the only riders to not reach the finish. Pascual, the only competitor on a Beta and the 2022 South American Rally Race runner-up, had a mechanical issue in Stage #2 followed by his navigation tower breaking off two days later. On the final day, Pascual crashed and had to be airlifted out.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted to finish this race, but that’s the way it is, racing is racing,” wrote Pascual. “Never give up.”

Rally2 overall results

Finish Number Rider Team Time Margin
1 21 Bradley Cox BAS World KTM Racing Team 17:01:01 Leader
2 23 Konrad Dąbrowski DUUST Diverse Racing 17:39:54 + 38:53
3 17 Romain Dumontier HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing 17:51:29 + 50:28
4 76 Jean-Loup Lepan DUUST Diverse Racing 17:55:12 + 54:11
5 29 Diego Llanos* Xraids Experience 19:30:13 + 2:29:12
6 69 Juan Santiago Rostan* Pampa Rental Rally Team 19:47:59 + 2:46:58
7 113 Sebastián Urquía* Xraids Experience 20:57:33 + 3:56:32
8 60 Francisco Arredondo* BAS World KTM Racing Team 21:27:38 + 4:26:37
9 57 Fabien von Thüngen* Fabien von Thüngen 22:36:11 + 5:35:10
10 61 Carlos Llibre* Xraids Experience 22:40:34 + 5:39:33
11 67 Rolando Martinez* Xraids Experience 22:56:29 + 5:55:28
12 56 Jiří Brož BAS World KTM Racing Team 23:30:32 + 6:29:31
13 65 Iván Martín* Iván Martín 25:08:04 + 8:07:03
14 35 Dominique Cizeau Girault Xraids Experience 25:15:58 + 8:14:57
15 111 Michael Docherty BAS World KTM Racing Team 29:01:02 + 12:00:1
16 55 David Martin* David Martin 29:33:11 + 12:32:10
17 64 Carlos Malo Peña* Carlos Malo Peña 44:34:04 + 27:33:03
DNF 46 Paolo Lucci BAS World KTM Racing Team DNF N/A
DNF 66 Jeremías Pascual* Jeremías Pascual DNF N/A
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Rally2 stage winners

Stage Rider Time
Prologue Diego Llanos* 57:20
Stage #1 Michael Docherty 3:08:23
Stage #2 Bradley Cox 3:46:54
Stage #3 Michael Docherty 3:10:21
Stage #4 Michael Docherty 2:57:17
Stage #5 Bradley Cox 2:43:19

Overall winners

Class Number Competitor Team Time
T1 200 Nasser Al-Attiyah Toyota Gazoo Racing 15:10:03
T3 302 Mitch Guthrie Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team 16:22:31
T4 403 Gustavo Gallego* South Racing Can-Am 18:34:37
RallyGP 68 Tosha Schareina* Honda Team 15:58:46
Rally2 21 Bradley Cox BAS World KTM Racing Team 17:01:01
Rally3 122 Ardit Kurtaj Xraids Experience 23:15:45
Quad 152 Manuel Andújar 7240 Team 19:24:30
Open Auto 650 Blas Zapag* Copetrol Rally 23:06:34
Open T3 670 Jeremías Gonzalez Ferioli* Ferioli Racing Team 17:34:31
Open T4 678 Juan José Semino* Xcorpion Rally Racing 20:59:00
Open Moto 608 Rodrigo de Abreu Sallum* MED Racing Team 22:36:24
Open Quad 623 Santiago Rostan* Pampa Rental Rally Team 25:28:33
Road to Dakar Auto 678 Juan José Semino* Xcorpion Rally Racing 20:59:00
Road to Dakar Moto 69 Juan Santiago Rostan* Pampa Rental Rally Team 25:28:33

W2RC Rally2 standings

Rank Rider Points Margin
1 Romain Dumontier 79 Leader
2 Paolo Lucci 66 – 13
3 Jean-Loup Lepan 58 – 21
T-4 Bradley Cox 35 – 44
T-4 Jacob Argubright 35 – 44
6 Michael Docherty 33 – 46
7 Konrad Dąbrowski 31 – 48
8 Toni Mulec 30 – 49
9 Dominique Cizeau Girault 23 – 56
10 Mathieu Dovèze 17 – 62
11 Neels Theric 13 – 66
12 Jan Brabec 12 – 67
T-13 Jon Florea 11 – 68
T-13 Jiří Brož 11 – 68
T-13 Mirjam Pol 11 – 68
16 Sunier 9 – 70