Saturday, March 2, 2024

2023 Sonora Rally: Massimo Camurri masterful in Rally3

The Rally3 class, which is intended for production bikes with limitations not imposed on the higher RallyGP and Rally2 categories, made its 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship début at the Sonora Rally.

Only three riders were entered, guaranteeing everyone a medal provided they reach the finish. Massimo Camurri led the way by a wide margin as he won all six days, consisting of the Prologue and five stages; he was one of three class winners at Sonora to achieve the feat alongside Rokas Baciuška in T4 and Romain Dumontier in Rally2, though Dumontier did not win the Prologue.

Camurri set the tone from the get-go when he won the Prologue by over sixteen minutes on the field. Stage #2 saw the closest margin of victory when he won by 4:22, though it came after he crashed twenty-three kilometres into the stage due to an obstacle on the road that was not reported. Two days later, he recorded a stage win so lopsided as it totalled nearly one and a hour hours at 1:28:49.

Although he entered the last day with a very convincing advantage of 1:28:49, Camurri elected to take a conservative approach for the stage to avoid disaster. This strategy allowed Ardit Kurtaj scoring his first stage victory while Camurri finished 2:06 back.

“Psychologically I knew I had a good lead but I also knew that it was possible to ruin everything with little,” Camurri explained. “I decided to play defence and not take any risks. I achieved a second-place class finish about two minutes behind the first, but I managed to secure the race victory.

“Honestly, at the start I didn’t expect any of this. I did my best and despite a few falls I managed to fulfill a dream.”

Kurtaj, a 2024 Dakar Rally hopeful, wrote regarding the final day that he “woke up this morning and thought to myself (there is still a little something that can be done without driving like a daredevil). I did that too, the whole time, nothing but full throttle, everything that I could. It turned out to be right, today I won a stage. It’s an incredible feeling to win a stage in the W2RC. I’ll be back soon.”

The Austrian winning Stage #5 was the only position change of any kind in the class as the five previous legs all had the same finishing order of Camurri, Kurtaj, and Alexander Chepurkó.

“2 months after surgery, with no time to get back in shape, yet here I am. 3rd place in my category and one more trophy to my beautiful collection,” wrote Chepurkó. Nicknamed “Silk Rider”, he was running his first race of 2023 after spending February and March undergoing treatment for a broken humerus. “I thank my family, friends and team for support! Wouldn’t do it without you!”

Rally3 overall results

Finish Number Rider Team Time Margin
1 57 Massimo Camurri Freedom Rally Racing 15:59:16 Leader
2 59 Ardit Kurtaj High Desert Adventures 17:25:59 + 1:26:43
3 58 Alexander Chepurkó DUUST Diverse Racing 20:30:29 + 4:31:13

Rally3 stage winners

Stage Rider Time
Prologue Massimo Camurri 58:40
Stage #1 Massimo Camurri 2:06:37
Stage #2 Massimo Camurri 2:10:00
Stage #3 Massimo Camurri 5:16:30
Stage #4 Massimo Camurri 3:34:19
Stage #5 Massimo Camurri 1:51:04

Overall winners

Class Number Competitor Team Time
T1 201 Nasser Al-Attiyah Toyota Gazoo Racing 10:29:55
T3 302 Mitch Guthrie Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team 11:17:24
T4 400 Rokas Baciuška Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing 11:51:05
RallyGP 18 Daniel Sanders Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing 11:01:09
Rally2 17 Romain Dumontier HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing 11:48:21
Rally3 57 Massimo Camurri Freedom Rally Racing 15:59:16
Quad 162 Laisvydas Kancius AG Dakar School 15:33:14
National Car/UTV 605 Sara Price* SP Motorsports 17:14:04
National Enduro 513 Brendan Crow* Brendan Crow 16:37:36
National Malle Moto 501 Matt Sutherland* Matt Sutherland 18:24:08
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

W2RC Rally3 standings

Rank Driver Points Margin
1 Massimo Camurri 25 Leader
2 Ardit Kurtaj 20 – 5
3 Alexander Chepurkó 16 – 9
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