Saturday, March 2, 2024

2023 Sonora Rally: Sweeps, surprises close out Stage 5

The Sonora Rally came to a close Friday with a 139-km run from Puerto Peñasco to San Luis Río Colorado. Some classes saw upheavals in the World Rally-Raid Championship while others were tales of utter domination.

Rally2 and T3 were cases of the latter as Romain Dumontier and Rokas Baciuška won their respective classes in every stage. Dumontier’s closest rival Jacob Argubright tailed him until the final stage but could only finish over seventeen seconds back, while Prologue winner Bradley Cox was plagued by mechanical troubles.

Unlike Dumontier, Baciuška completed a clean sweep by claiming all six days including the Prologue. He iced the win in Stage #5 by beating Rebecca Busi by over thirteen minutes; Eduard Pons had finished nine minutes back of Baciuška but received fifteen minutes of penalties.

On the other hand, the “three-numbered” categories of Rally3 and T3 saw David Zille and Ardit Kurtaj score their first stage wins to end the rally. Zille had been in the top five overall before a broken wheel hub in Stage #4 tumbled him down the order, but he rebounded on the final day when he edged out overall winner Mitch Guthrie by just twenty-one seconds.

Kurtaj’s win denied Massimo Camurri a chance to go six-for-six as he had won every leg. Nevertheless, Camurri’s domination and his rivals’ various troubles enabled him to take the overall with nearly one and a half hours on Kurtaj.

Despite leading the stage early in T3, Mattias Ekström was caught behind the T1s of BAIC ORV until a punctured tyre delivered the death blow to his hopes of getting past Guthrie for the overall.

Trouble also struck Toby Price in RallyGP. After winning Stage #4, a late error in which he went onto the wrong road caused him to lose his shot at sneaking past Luciano Benavides for third overall. At the front, leader Daniel Sanders won the stage by 2:41 ahead of Tosha Schareina.

The win is Sanders’ first in W2RC.

“I made a little mistake right at the end of the final stage,” said Price. “I didn’t quite get the right road, so I had to cut across and then come back, and then when I was back on the road I turned left instead of right. The championship still looks good, but I’m gutted to have missed out in Mexico.”

Yazeed Al-Rajhi won in T1 to lead all drivers in stage wins at Sonora with three, beating Nasser Al-Attiyah by one minute. However, the gap was not enough for him to close on Al-Attiyah in the overall as the latter still won that by 6:22. Al-Attiyah is now the T1 points leader.

Stage #5 winners

Class Number Competitor Team Time
T1 202 Yazeed Al-Rajhi Overdrive Racing 1:13:45
T3 307 David Zille South Racing Can-Am 1:20:31
T4 400 Rokas Baciuška Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing 1:27:28
RallyGP 18 Daniel Sanders Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing 1:14:01
Rally2 17 Romain Dumontier HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing 1:21:49
Rally3 59 Ardit Kurtaj High Desert Adventures 1:51:04
Quad 165 Rodolfo Guillioli Pepitas Racing Team 2:14:32

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 11:05:34
T4 400 Rokas Baciuška Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing 11:51:05
RallyGP 18 Daniel Sanders Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing 1:14:01
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
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