Tuesday, March 5, 2024

2023 Desafio Ruta 40: Nasser Al-Attiyah clinches manufacturer’s title for Toyota

For much of the World Rally-Raid Championship‘s summer break, everyone expected Nasser Al-Attiyah to spend Friday’s final stage of the Desafío Ruta 40 preparing for a new chapter in his career as his contract with Toyota Gazoo Racing expired that day. While his free agency status is technically still in the air for 2024, he does not need to worry about that for now and could just enjoy his third win of 2023.

Now sticking with TGR through the end of the 2023 season, Al-Attiyah led a Toyota sweep of the T1 category in Argentina by winning nearly every stage in Argentina including the Prologue. He would have had a perfect rally if not for tyre punctures in the final moments of Stage #2 that befell him and every T1 driver, which Juan Cruz Yacopini capitalised upon to steal his maiden stage victory. Al-Attiyah still salvaged a second-place run that day before returning to his winning ways for the final three days.

The only T1 driver with multiple wins in 2023, having previously won the Dakar Rally and Sonora Rally, Al-Attiyah leads Yazeed Al-Rajhi in the W2RC by 51 points. He only needs four more points at the season-ending Rallye du Maroc in October to clinch his second straight title. His navigator Mathieu Baumel already secured the co-driver’s championship with a seventy-point advantage over Al-Rajhi’s partner Timo Gottschalk, who did not run Dakar.

“It’s always a good feeling to win and now I only need a few more points in Morocco for the championship,” Al-Attiyah commented. “It was great to be racing here in Argentina again and I’m already looking forward to coming back next year to defend the title.”

Even if Al-Attiyah was too powerful to defeat, Yacopini still had reason to celebrate as he finished a career-best second in his home race with the forementioned stage win being his first. While unable to catch the leader for the overall, he held off Al-Rajhi for the runner-up position.

Al-Rajhi struggled with attrition throughout the rally. After entering the final stage in second with a two-minute gap on Yacopini, he suffered four punctures and got stuck in a ditch which relegated him to last in class and allowed Yacopini to leapfrog him for the spot.

Eugenio Amos, the only T1 driver not competing for W2RC points, finished fourth with a podium in Stage #2. Denis Krotov was fifth in his début in a Toyota Hilux T1+.

Al-Attiyah’s win secured Toyota Gazoo Racing the manufacturer’s championship yet again with 230 points, over 100 more than second-placed X-raid Team‘s Mini JCW programme. The Hilux has won all four races in 2023, with Al-Rajhi taking the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

“Overall, we have every reason to be pleased with Nasser and Mathieu winning the race, and our Dakar-winning GR DKR Hilux T1+ again showing its strength,” said TGR W2RC boss Alain Dujardyn. “The fans here were amazingly enthusiastic, and we appreciate the support. I would also like to congratulate Juan Cruz Yacopini on his fantastic second place overall, achieved in front of his home crowd. In terms of the W2RC, we are happy to have already won the championships for co-driver and manufacturer, with just the driver title to be concluded in Morocco next month.”

All but one of the T1 entries in Argentina raced a Hilux, with the Mini of Sebastian Halpern being the exception; Krotov also usually races a Mini but switched to Toyota for Argentina. While the Mini JCW Rally Plus enjoyed success to begin the week when Krzysztof Hołowczyc won the Baja Poland, Halpern’s car suffered mechanical failures on Stages #2 and #3 that dropped him to last in the DR 40 ranking. As such, Halpern does not intend to race in Morocco or the 2024 Dakar Rally out of wariness for the Mini’s ability to keep up with Toyota, though he is open to racing with the manufacturer again in the future.

T1 overall results

Finish Overall Finish Number Driver Co-Driver Team Time Margin
1 1 200 Nasser Al-Attiyah Mathieu Baumel Toyota Gazoo Racing 15:10:03 Leader
2 2 203 Juan Cruz Yacopini Dani Oliveiras Overdrive Racing 15:32:06 + 22:03
3 3 201 Yazeed Al-Rajhi Timo Gottschalk Overdrive Racing 15:40:30 + 30:27
4 4 205 Eugenio Amos* Paolo Ceci Overdrive Racing 16:05:57 + 55:54
5 10 204 Denis Krotov Konstantin Zhiltsov X-raid Team 18:08:33 + 2:58:30
6 17 202 Sebastian Halpern Bernardo Graue X-raid Team 34:43:24 + 20:33:21

T1 stage winners

Stage Driver Time
Prologue Nasser Al-Attiyah 6:33
Stage #1 Nasser Al-Attiyah 2:57:31
Stage #2 Juan Cruz Yacopini 3:35:12
Stage #3 Nasser Al-Attiyah 2:57:41
Stage #4 Nasser Al-Attiyah 2:57:41
Stage #5 Nasser Al-Attiyah 2:34:04

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 Jose 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

W2RC standings

Unlike T3 and T4, T1 does not have its own standings and instead uses a championship in which the aforementioned categories can also earn points based on their finishes among all FIA W2RC entries.

Drivers’ standings

Rank Driver Points Margin
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah 189 Leader
2 Yazeed Al-Rajhi 138 – 51
3 Juan Cruz Yacopini 109 – 80
4 Sébastien Loeb 101 – 88
5 Sebastian Halpern 89 – 100
6 Martin Prokop 64 – 125
7 Mattias Ekström # 59 – 130
8 Guerlain Chicherit 55 – 134
9 Austin Jones 43 – 146
10 Seth Quintero 37 – 152
T-10 Denis Krotov 37 – 152
12 Mitch Guthrie 35 – 154
13 Guoyu Zhang 31 – 158
T-13 Wei Han 31 – 158
15 Rokas Baciuška 24 – 165
16 Mathieu Serradori 22 – 167
T-16 Cristina Gutiérrez 22 – 167
18 Francisco Lopéz Contardo 15 – 174
19 João Ferreira 14 – 175
20 Claude Fournier 10 – 179
21 Zi Yunliang 9 – 180
T-21 Pau Navarro 9 – 180
23 Eryk Goczał 8 – 181
24 Aliyyah Koloc 6 – 183
25 Jean-Luc Ceccaldi 5 – 184
T-25 David Zille 5 – 184
27 Marek Goczał 4 – 185
28 Shinsuke Umeda 2 – 187
Carlos Sainz 0 – 189
Orlando Terranova 0 – 189
Erik van Loon 0 – 189
Stéphane Peterhansel 0 – 189
# – Competed in multiple classes
Italics – T3 entry
Underscore – T4 entry

Co-drivers’ standings

Rank Co-Driver Driver Points Margin
1 Mathieu Baumel Nasser Al-Attyah 189 Leader
2 Timo Gottschalk Yazeed Al-Rajhi 119 – 70
3 Dani Oliveiras Juan Cruz Yacopini 109 – 80
4 Fabian Lurquin Sébastien Loeb 101 – 88
5 Bernardo Graue Sebastian Halpern 89 – 100
6 Viktor Chytka Martin Prokop 64 – 125
7 Emil Bergkvist # Mattias Ekström # 59 – 130
8 Alex Winocq Guerlain Chicherit 55 – 134
9 Gustavo Gugelmin Austin Jones 43 – 146
10 Dennis Zenz Seth Quintero 37 – 152
T-10 Konstantin Zhiltsov Denis Krotov 37 – 152
12 Kellon Walch Mitch Guthrie 35 – 154
13 Ma Li Wei Han 31 – 158
14 Oriol Mena # Eryk Goczał, Guoyu Zhang 29 – 160
15 Oriol Vidal Montijano Rokas Baciuška 24 – 165
16 Loïc Minaudier Mathieu Serradori 22 – 167
T-16 Pablo Moreno Huete Cristina Gutiérrez 22 – 167
18 Dirk Von Zitzewitz Yazeed Al-Rajhi 19 – 170
19 Bruno Jacomy Hernán Garcés 11 – 178
20 Jean-Pierre Garvin Guoyu Zhang 10 – 179
T-20 Szymon Gospodarczyk # Michal Goczał, Claude Fournier 10 – 179
22 François Cazalet # Guillaume de Mévius, Pau Navarro 9 – 180
T-22 Sha He Zi Yunliang 9 – 180
24 Manuel Porem João Ferreira 8 – 181
25 Stéphane Duple Aliyyah Koloc 6 – 183
T-25 Filipe Palmeiro João Ferreira 6 – 183
27 Cédric Duplé Jean-Luc Ceccaldi 5 – 184
T-27 Sebastian Cesana David Zille 5 – 184
29 Maciej Marton Marek Goczał 4 – 60
T-29 Juan Pablo Latrach Francisco López Contardo 4 – 60
31 Maurizio Dominella Shinsuke Umeda 2 – 62
Lucas Cruz Carlos Sainz 0 – 189
Alex Haro Bravo Orlando Terranova 0 – 189
Sébastien Delaunay Erik van Loon 0 – 189
Édouard Boulanger Stéphane Peterhansel 0 – 189
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