Wednesday, April 17, 2024

2023 Sonora Rally: Nasser Al-Attiyah takes W2RC points lead

Fate, coincidences, and irony tend to work in mysterious ways. Yes, this also happens in rally raid.

The World Rally-Raid Championship took a surprising turn at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge when Dakar Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah crashed out of the third stage while leading, allowing Sébastien Loeb to maintain his points lead.

A month later, Loeb wrecked out at the Sonora Rally as the overall leader in Stage #3, which opened the door to Al-Attiyah to leapfrog him for the top spot in the standings.

Loeb looked to be in the catbird seat early on as he and his fellow Prodrive Hunters Guerlain Chicherit and series newcomers Marcos and Cristian Baumgart occupied much of the top five in Stage #2. The following leg, however, saw him crash into a dry river that he was following when its direction changed course while he was airbourne. The accident left a small fracture in co-driver Fabian Lurquin‘s right shoulder, ending their rally.

With Loeb out of the picture, the battle for the overall win came down to the Toyota Hiluxes of Al-Attiyah and Abu Dhabi victor Yazeed Al-Rajhi. Although Al-Rajhi won Stage #3, Al-Attiyah returned the favour the next day to increase his lead to 7:22 entering the fifth and final stage.

Al-Rajhi scored the Stage #5 victory, but Al-Attiyah finished behind him by just a minute. The duo’s 1-2 finish and Loeb’s retirement enabled them to leapfrog him in the championship picture; Al-Attiyah has a thirty-point gap on Al-Rajhi.

“To come here after our big crash in Abu Dhabi and try to defend our title by winning the race wasn’t easy, but we managed to lead from for most of the event,” said Al-Attiyah. “We also had an amazing fight with Sébastien Loeb and Yazeed Al-Rajhi, and I’m happy that we now have a big lead in the championship. Our GR DKR Hilux T1+ was back to full strength, and we had an amazing race.”

Sebastian Halpern joined the Hiluxes on the overall podium for his best W2RC finish and the highest for the Mini John Cooper Works since Jakub Przygoński at the 2022 ADDC. Halpern. He beat his Mini team-mate Denis Krotov by eleven minutes.

Loeb’s retirement, along with Chicherit’s mechanical failure two days later, marred what would have otherwise been a strong outing for Prodrive. The Buamgart brothers finished seventh and ninth in their W2RC débuts, and Marcos was able to score another podium in Stage #4 when he finished third (he had placed second but was bumped down a spot due to penalties).

T1 overall results

Finish Number Driver Co-Driver Team Time Margin
1 201 Nasser Al-Attiyah Mathieu Baumel Toyota Gazoo Racing 10:29:55 Leader
2 202 Yazeed Al-Rajhi Timo Gottschalk Overdrive Racing 10:36:17 + 6:22
3 205 Sebastian Halpern Bernardo Graue X-raid Team 10:44:13 + 14:18
4 208 Denis Krotov Konstantin Zhiltsov X-raid Team 10:55:43 + 25:48
5 203 Juan Cruz Yacopini Daniel Oliveras Overdrive Racing 11:01:30 + 31:35
6 206 Guoyu Zhang Oriol Mena BAIC ORV 11:01:43 + 31:48
7 210 Cristian Baumgart* Alberto Andreotti X Rally Team 11:42:21 + 1:12:26
8 207 Yunliang Zi He Sha BAIC ORV 11:54:03 + 1:24:08
9 211 Marcos Baumgart* Kleber Cincea X Rally Team 11:55:11 + 1:25:16
10 209 Eugenio Amos* Paolo Ceci Overdrive Racing 23:18:23 + 12:48:28
11 204 Guerlain Chicherit Alex Winocq GCK Motorsport 28:58:40 + 18:28:45
DNF 200 Sébastien Loeb Fabian Lurquin Bahrain Raid Xtreme DNF N/A
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

T1 stage winners

Stage Driver Time
Prologue Yazeed Al-Rajhi 5:18
Stage #1 Nasser Al-Attiyah 1:32:06
Stage #2 Sébastien Loeb 1:28:28
Stage #3 Yazeed Al-Rajhi 3:27:22
Stage #4 Nasser Al-Attiyah 2:40:34
Stage #5 Yazeed Al-Rajhi 1:13:45

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

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 136 Leader
2 Yazeed Al-Rajhi 106 – 30
3 Sébastien Loeb 101 – 35
4 Sebastian Halpern 74 – 62
5 Juan Cruz Yacopini 69 – 67
6 Martin Prokop 64 – 72
7 Guerlain Chicherit 55 – 81
8 Mattias Ekström # 49 – 87
9 Seth Quintero 32 – 104
T-10 Wei Han 31 – 105
T-10 Guoyu Zhang 31 – 105
12 Austin Jones 30 – 106
13 Rokas Baciuška 24 – 112
T-14 Denis Krotov 22 – 114
T-14 Mathieu Serradori 22 – 114
16 Mitch Guthrie 14 – 122
T-17 Pau Navarro 9 – 127
T-17 Zi Yunliang 9 – 127
19 Eryk Goczał 8 – 128
20 Cristina Gutiérrez 7 – 129
T-21 Aliyyah Koloc 6 – 130
T-21 João Ferreira 6 – 130
23 Jean-Luc Ceccaldi 5 – 131
T-24 Francisco Lopéz Contardo 4 – 132
T-24 Marek Goczał 4 – 132
26 Claude Fournier 3 – 133
27 David Zille 2 – 134
# – Competed in multiple classes
Italics – T3 entry
Underscore – T4 entry

Co-drivers’ standings

Rank Co-Driver Driver Points Margin
1 Mathieu Baumel Nasser Al-Attiyah 136 Leader
2 Fabian Lurquin Sébastien Loeb 101 – 35
3 Timo Gottschalk Yazeed Al-Rajhi 87 – 49
4 Bernardo Graue Sebastian Halpern 74 – 62
5 Dani Oliveiras Juan Cruz Yacopini 69 – 67
6 Viktor Chytka Martin Prokop 64 – 72
7 Alex Winocq Guerlain Chicherit 55 – 81
8 Emil Bergkvist # Mattias Ekström # 49 – 87
9 Dennis Zenz Seth Quintero 32 – 104
10 Ma Li Wei Han 31 – 105
11 Gustavo Gugelmin Austin Jones 30 – 106
12 Oriol Mena # Eryk Goczał, Guoyu Zhang 29 – 107
13 Oriol Vidal Montijano Rokas Baciuška 24 – 112
T-14 Konstantin Zhiltsov Denis Krotov 22 – 114
T-14 Loïc Minaudier Mathieu Serradori 22 – 114
16 Dirk von Zitzewitz Yazeed Al-Rajhi 19 – 117
17 Kellon Walch Mitch Guthrie 14 – 122
18 Jean-Pierre Garcin Guoyu Zhang 10 – 126
T-19 François Cazalet # Guillaume de Mévius, Pau Navarro 9 – 127
T-19 Sha He Zi Yunliang 9 – 127
21 Pablo Moreno Huete Cristina Gutiérrez 7 – 129
T-22 Stéphane Duple Aliyyah Koloc 6 – 130
T-22 Filipe Palmeiro João Ferreira 6 – 130
24 Cédric Duplé Jean-Luc Ceccaldi 5 – 131
T-25 Juan Pablo Latrach Francisco López Contardo 4 – 132
T-25 Maciej Marton Marek Goczał 4 – 132
27 Szymon Gospodarczyk # Michal Goczał, Claude Fournier 3 – 133
28 Sebastian Cesana David Zille 2 – 134
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