Monday, June 24, 2024

2024 Desafio Ruta 40: John Medina escapes with Rally3 victory

Fernando Hernández looked like the favourite to win the Desafío Ruta 40 in the Rally3 class when he led John Medina by half an hour and had over two hours on Eduardo Alan after three stages. However, that was only halfway and a lot could—and did—happen in the second half.

After winning the Prologue and finishing second to Medina in Stage #1, Hernández quickly built an advantage via back-to-back stage wins, propelling him to a 28:30 lead by the end of the third leg. The margin was further increased by twenty-two minutes of penalties for Medina, who got six minutes in Stage #2 for being late to the bivouac and eight total on the first and third days for leaving the neutralisation zone too soon. All of this was ultimately for naught when Hernández crashed eighty-five kilometres into Stage #4 and hurt his forehead; he was conscious when medical help arrived and transported him to hospital in San Juan, but he was eliminated from the rally.

Medina inherited the lead as a result and won the stage. With Alan two hours and eleven minutes behind him whereas Marcelo Miti was well out of contention, he simply needed to safely reach the finish on the fifth and final day to seal the win. He achieved this with a third stage win ahead of Alan by nine minutes.

Alan finished runner-up in his return to international rally raid, saying he “owed it to myself” to take part in his home country. He previously raced the Dakar Rally when it ran through South America from 2009 to 2013.

Miti, another Dakar veteran, retired with a mechanical issue on the very first day. After being sidelined for most of the rally as he worked to get the bike fixed, he rejoined the race for the final day and finished 16:43 behind Medina. As he completed the race, he joined Medina and Alan on the final podium.

The win comes two months after Medina narrowly missing the Rally3 podium at the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid despite suffering a hand injury in a crash, forcing him to undergo surgery. As the only rider to have attempted both World Rally-Raid Championship rounds in 2024 with the class, he assumes the points lead with one race remaining.

“About four days after they operated on me, the indication was that I couldn’t come (here),” Medina told Máquinas. “Well, we came, we enjoyed it, we had a good time, we won. I’m very happy.

“The plan is to continue adding points for the World Cup and try to become champion (in Morocco).”

Rally3 overall results

Finish Number Rider Team Time Margin
1 67 John Medina Xraids Experience 24:15:07 Leader
2 36 Eduardo Alan MED Racing Team 26:35:29 + 2:20:22
3 100 Marcelo Miti MED Racing Team 118:52:39 + 94:37:32
DNF 34 Fernando Hernández MED Racing Team DNF N/A

Rally3 stage winners

Stage Rider Time
Prologue Fernando Hernández 21:36.1
Stage #1 John Medina 5:05:41
Stage #2 Fernando Hernández 5:23:57
Stage #3 Fernando Hernández 4:22:37
Stage #4 John Medina 5:05:33
Stage #5 John Medina 3:23:25

W2RC Rally3 standings

For readability, competitors registered for the championship who have not earned points are excluded.

Rank Rider Points Margin
1 John Medina 38 Leader
2 Gonçalo Amaral 25 – 13
T-3 Eduardo Alan 20 – 18
T-3 Salvador Amaral 20 – 18
5 Pedro Bianchi Prata 16 – 22
6 Francisco España 11 – 27
7 José Flores García 10 – 28