Monday, May 27, 2024

2023 Desafio Ruta 40: Yacopini, Cox steal Stage 2

Stage #2 of the Desafío Ruta 40 from La Rioja to Belén was like multiple stages in one, hitting the World Rally-Raid Championship with a gauntlet of terrain that ranged from dry lakes to gravel and vegetation to sand dunes and fesh-fesh. As competitors struggled through the changing conditions, so did their vehicles which consequently shook up the stage results in many classes.

Perhaps the biggest example is in T1, where Nasser Al-Attiyah and Yazeed Al-Rajhi had finished 1–2 in the Prologue and Stage #1 only to suffer more tyre punctures than they had spares on them. The two got stuck shortly after the 250th-kilometre mark along with fellow T1 leaders Juan Cruz Yacopini and Sebastian Halpern, with Yacopini—who had been running third behind Al-Attiyah and Al-Rajhi for most of the day—being the first to break free and pull away.

Yacopini scored his first W2RC stage win as a result of the carnage, with Al-Attiyah finishing runner-up and 10:42 back. Al-Rajhi’s punctures dropped him off the podium int ofourth as the fellow Toyota Hilux of Eugenio Amos finished third. Halpern’s Mini JCW Rally Plus suffered two flats and a broken alternator that relegated him to fifth.

“We tried to prepare older tyres and we broke the rear suspension,” said Al-Attiyah. “It was not a good day, but good day for us as we finished. We got two punctures in one time and we fixed it, and then another puncture we stopped to fix and then number four and then number five.”

Like Al-Attiyah and Al-Rajhi, Michael Docherty‘s bike let him down during the day. After the Rally2 rider ran top five among all bikes throughout the first half, a mechanical issue forced him to stop just fifty kilometres before the finish. As Bradley Cox overtook him for the lead and eventual Rally2 stage win, Docherty was forced to retire for the day. Fortunately for him, he is allowed to rejoin the rally for Stage #3 if his team can get the bike repaired.

This luxury is not available for RallyGP competitors, forcing Matthias Walkner to bow out altogether after sacrificing the shock absorber from his bike to Red Bull KTM team-mate Toby Price. Price had come to a stop at KM 157 before his saviour arrived; while the gesture eliminates Walker from the rally, it is crucial for Price as he entered Argentina with the championship lead by just three points on Luciano Benavides.

Although still in the race, Price also has his work cut out for him as Benavides finished second to Stage #1 winner Tosha Schareina. Price is tenth overall and over an hour back of Benavides.

T3’s Nicolás Cavigliasso hoped to join the surprise winners of T1 and Rally2 when he overtook Monday winner Mitch Guthrie and Mattias Ekström at the final checkpoint. Ekström had other plans when he flipped a two-second deficit on Cavigliasso to a fifteen-second victory in the closing fifty kilometres.

Stage #2 winners

Class Number Competitor Team Time
T1 203 Juan Cruz Yacopini Overdrive Racing 3:35:12
T3 306 Mattias Ekström South Racing Can-Am 3:45:39
T4 402 Eduard Pons* South Racing Can-Am 4:07:18
RallyGP 68 Tosha Schareina* Honda Team 3:27:40
Rally2 21 Bradley Cox BAS World KTM Racing Team 3:46:54
Rally3 122 Ardit Kutaj Xraids Experience 5:31:35
Quad 154 Francisco Moreno* Franci Moreno Rally Team 4:31:37
Open Auto 650 Blas Zapag* Copetrol Rally 5:19:43
Open T3 670 Jeremías Gonzalez Ferioli* Ferioli Racing Team 4:25:00
Open T4 678 Juan Jose Semino* Xcorpion Rally Racing 4:34:20
Open Moto 600 Joaquín Debeljuh* RVM Rally Team 4:45:21
Open Quad 623 Santiago Rostan* Pampa Rental Rally Team 5:30:39
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Leaders after Stage #2

Class Number Competitor Team Time
T1 200 Nasser Al-Attiyah Toyota Gazoo Racing 6:43:25
T3 302 Mitch Guthrie Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team 6:59:55
T4 402 Eduard Pons* South Racing Can-Am 7:44:43
RallyGP 68 Tosha Schareina* Honda Team 7:22:40
Rally2 21 Bradley Cox BAS World KTM Racing Team 7:58:07
Rally3 122 Ardit Kurtaj Xraids Experience 10:35:55
Quad 152 Manuel Andújar 7240 Team 9:03:40
Open Auto 650 Blas Zapag* Copetrol Rally 8:58:20
Open T3 670 Jeremías Gonzalez Ferioli* Ferioli Racing Team 7:51:29
Open T4 678 Juan Jose Semino* Xcorpion Rally Racing 8:39:24
Open Moto 600 Joaquín Debeljuh RVM Rally Team 9:32:10
Open Quad 623 Santiago Rostan* Pampa Rental Rally Team 11:48:15
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