Sunday, May 19, 2024

2023 Sonora Rally: Rokas Baciuska sweeps T4

Rokas Baciuška solidifed his World Rally-Raid Championship T4 points lead after a perfect outing at the Sonora Rally as he won all six stages including the Prologue.

Baciuška is one of three class winners to sweep the rally’s five main stages alongside Romain Dumontier in Rally2 and Massimo Camurri of Rally3. He and Camurri are the only ones to take it a step further as they also claimed the Prologue, whose shorter distance typically results in more parity as teams try to understand the environment. The win is the reigning champion’s second in a row after the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

“There was no shortage of sports or everyday adrenaline in Mexico, but it was nice to get to know another new culture, impressive nature,” said Baciuška. “Five days in a strict racing mode and here we are, already very close to the world champions title for the second year in a row.”

Eduard Pons provided the closest competition throughout the first half of the rally by finishing second across the first three stages, with the slimmest gap being just six and a half minutes in Stage #2, though Baciuška maintained distance thanks to Pons receiving penalties for speeding. However, Pons’ race was upended when his car broke down in the penultimate stage.

With Pons out of the picture, the only other two entries in T4, Rebecca Busi and Shinsuke Umeda, were assured rally podium finishes. They were already guaranteed such finishes in just the championship as they declared for points while Pons did not, though the latter plans to run the rest of the calendar to accumulate experience for the 2024 Dakar Rally.

“It has been a very tough race, with very fast and beautiful tracks throughout the Sonoran Desert, in which our main approach was to manage to add kilometers and continue preparing for the Dakar 2024,” his team Pons Rallysport stated. “Our pace was progressive, without risking unnecessarily to meet the objective set, managing to be second of T4 until the moment of our retire due to breakdown.

“We are leaving Mexico with a good work plan to continue with the Pons Road to Dakar challenge. There are eight intense months left in which we will continue learning all the secrets of this complex discipline.”

Busi’s runner-up overall class finish is the best for a female W2RC competitor in 2023, trumping Cristina Gutiérrez and Aliyyah Koloc‘s thirds in T3 at the Dakar Rally and Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, respectively. The run came in her first start for FN Speed Team, having joined the outfit for the two American rounds in Mexico and Argentina.

“Finally we brought home the first points of this world championship,” wrote Busi. “After a disastrous Dakar and skipping Abu Dhabi, this we really needed this result!”

Umeda notched his second straight third-place run among W2RC drivers.

“After Abu Dhabi, I beat Sébastien Loeb again,” Umeda quipped, referring to the then-W2RC T1 points leader retiring after crashing out and therefore being lower than him in the race results. “By the way, I also beat (Stéphane) Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz in Dakar.”

The quartet of entries are the second fewest for an FIA W2RC class so far in 2023, just two more than the duo in T2 at Dakar. The Quads on the FIM side also boasted two riders at Sonora.

With so few teams racing Sonora, the T4 standings remained relatively the same save for the obvious gains made by those who did take part. Umeda moves from sixth to third in points while Busi finally appears on the board as her retirement from Dakar and absence at Abu Dhabi meant she did not have any prior points.

Baciuška’s points lead increases with over 103 on Eryk Goczał, who won the Dakar Rally but elected to sit out the season to focus on academics. Goczał’s father Marek and uncle Michal, along with Pau Navarro are sandwiched between Umeda and Busi, with the Goczał family typically only racing together while Navarro was unwinding from running the Baja TT Dehesa Extremadura in Spain a week before.

T4 overall results

Finish Number Driver Co-Driver Team Time Margin
1 400 Rokas Baciuška Oriol Vidal Montijano Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing 11:51:05 Leader
2 402 Rebecca Busi Sébastien Delaunay FN Speed Team 13:50:16 + 1:59:11
3 401 Shinsuke Umeda Aku Facundo Jaton Xtremeplus 15:38:43 + 3:47:38
4 403 Eduard Pons* Mónica Plaza South Racing Can-Am 30:38:14 + 18:47:09
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

T4 stage winners

Stage Driver Time
Prologue Rokas Baciuška 6:00
Stage #1 Rokas Baciuška 1:44:50
Stage #2 Rokas Baciuška 1:38:32
Stage #3 Rokas Baciuška 3:53:51
Stage #4 Rokas Baciuška 3:06:24
Stage #5 Rokas Baciuška 1:27:28

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 T4 standings

Drivers’ standings

Rank Driver Points Margin
1 Rokas Baciuška 189 Leader
2 Eryk Goczał 86 – 103
3 Shinsuke Umeda 79 – 110
4 Pau Navarro 73 – 116
5 Marek Goczał 67 – 122
6 Michal Goczał 50 – 139
7 Rebecca Busi 45 – 144
8 Yasir Seaidan 35 – 154
9 Bruno Conti de Oliveira 30 – 159
T-10 Sebastián Guayasamin 27 – 162
T-10 Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira 27 – 162
12 Molly Taylor 20 – 169
13 Nicolás Cavigliasso 13 – 176

Co-drivers’ standings

Some co-drivers have worked with drivers in other categories. Those do not count for this championship nor are they mentioned below.

Rank Co-Driver Driver Points Margin
1 Oriol Vidal Montijano Rokas Baciuška 189 Leader
2 Oriol Mena Eryk Goczał 86 – 103
3 Aku Facundo Jaton Shinsuke Umeda 79 – 110
4 Maciej Marton Marek Goczał 67 – 122
5 Szymon Gospodarczyk Michal Goczał 50 – 139
T-6 François Cazalet Pau Navarro 45 – 144
T-6 Sébastien Delaunay Rebecca Busi 45 – 144
8 Alexey Kuzmich Yasir Seaidan 35 – 154
9 Pedro Bianchi Prata Bruno Conti de Oliveira 30 – 159
10 Michaël Metge Pau Navarro 28 – 161
T-11 Ricardo Torlaschi Sebastián Guayasamin 27 – 162
T-11 Maykel Justo Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira 27 – 162
13 Andrew Short Molly Taylor 20 – 169
14 Valentina Peregarini Nicolás Cavigliasso 13 – 176
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