Friday, July 19, 2024

2023 Desafio Ruta 40: Tosha Schareina dominates bikes, Luciano Benavides takes points lead

While not part of the factory team nor racing for World Rally-Raid Championship points, Tosha Schareina‘s move from KTM to Honda has been a smashing success so far. After finishing runner-up in his début with the Japanese manufacturer in Sonora, he was easily the top rider at the Desafío Ruta 40 in Argentina.

After finishing fifth in the Prologue, Schareina was virtually perfect as he won the first three stages. Argentina’s Luciano Benavides was the only reason he did not simply cruise to the overall win, having finished second to him in all three legs.

Not willing to let the Spaniard crash his homecoming, Benavides caught the leader in Stage #4 and averted a sweep as he edged out Schareina for the stage win by thirty-six seconds. Benavides was the only competitor with a feasible chance at overtaking Schareina for the overall entering the final day, but the gap between the top two and everyone else meant Benavides had all but secured the W2RC victory as the highest-running championship rider, which awards the standard max points even if one does not win the rally overall.

With this in mind, Benavides and Schareina elected to ride conservatively for the final stage. Both ironically received speeding penalties, though it did not affect their stage or overall finish as Schareina still won with eleven minutes on Benavides. The victory is Schareina’s second with Honda after the Baja España Aragón in his home country in July.

Honda factory rider Ricky Brabec joined them on the overall podium while Ross Branch got the final step for the W2RC top three. Despite winning the final stage (albeit inherited due to penalties), Adrien Van Beveren just missed out on the latter by two minutes.

As the W2RC winner, Benavides is the new RallyGP points leader with a nine-point advantage over Toby Price. Despite finishing Stage #1 in fourth, Price’s rally unravelled the next day when his rear shock broke. Red Bull KTM team-mate Matthias Walkner, who is mathematically out of championship contention, sacrificed parts from his bike for Price to continue. Too far back to catch Benavides, Price focused on completing the race to salvage as much points as possible and finished eighth, last among finishers. To add insult to injury, Price had won the final stage but received a six-minute speeding penalty that relegated him to fourth.

“Unfortunately, it’s probably wrecked the championship for us,” said Price. “It is what it is, so you just have to swallow it and move on to the next round.”

Walkner was one of three retirements in the class alongside Sebastian Bühler and Sam Sunderland. Sunderland fell sick the night before Stage #3 and withdrew while Bühler suffered a mechanical failure the following day. The former’s exit continues a difficult season for the 2022 Dakar Rally winner, who got hurt on the first stage of this year’s edition and missed the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with another injury.

Benavides’ brother and 2023 Dakar Rally champion Kevin Benavides could not enter his home race due to a broken wrist in testing weeks prior. Daniel Sanders, who beat Schareina for the Sonora Rally win, also sat out Argentina after he broke his femur in May.

RallyGP overall results

Finish Number Rider Team Time Margin
1 68 Tosha Schareina* Honda Team 15:58:46 Leader
2 77 Luciano Benavides Husqvarna Factory Racing 16:10:22 + 11:36
3 2 Ricky Brabec Monster Energy Honda Rally Team 16:20:02 + 21:16
4 16 Ross Branch Hero MotoSports 16:25:31 + 26:45
5 42 Adrien Van Beveren Monster Energy Honda Rally Team 16:27:38 + 28:52
6 7 Pablo Quintanilla Monster Energy Honda Rally Team 16:37:54 + 39:08
7 11 José Ignacio Cornejo Monster Energy Honda Rally Team 16:51:03 + 52:17
8 8 Toby Price Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 17:24:00 + 1:25:14
DNF 1 Sam Sunderland Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing DNF N/A
DNF 14 Sebastian Bühler Hero MotoSports DNF N/A
DNF 52 Matthias Walkner Red Bull KTM Factory Racing DNF N/A

RallyGP stage winners

Stage Rider Time
Prologue Adrien Van Beveren 54:52
Stage #1 Tosha Schareina* 3:00:12
Stage #2 Tosha Schareina* 3:27:40
Stage #3 Tosha Schareina* 2:58:13
Stage #4 Luciano Benavides 2:53:57
Stage #5 Adrien Van Beveren 2:39:44

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 RallyGP standings

Rank Rider Points Margin
1 Luciano Benavides 80 Leader
2 Toby Price 71 – 9
3 Adrien Van Beveren 66 – 14
4 Ross Branch 45 – 35
5 Kevin Benavides 43 – 37
6 José Ignacio Cornejo 41 – 39
7 Daniel Sanders 39 – 41
8 Pablo Quintanilla 39 – 41
9 Ricky Brabec 38 – 42
10 Skyler Howes 34 – 46
11 Sebastian Bühler 16 – 64
12 Matthias Walkner 13 – 67
13 Franco Caimi 11 – 69
14 Mason Klein 4 – 76