Monday, June 24, 2024

2024 Desafio Ruta 40: Manuel Andujar clinches championship in Quad swan song

With the Dakar Rally axeing the Quad category for 2025, Manuel Andújar hoped to end his career in the class on a strong note when the World Rally-Raid Championship visited his native Argentina for the Desafío Ruta 40. Not only did he and his countrymen dominate from start to finish, Andújar clinched the Quad title a round early in his final start as he does not intend to run the finale in Morocco.

Andújar, the reigning Dakar and DR 40 winner for Quads, was near perfect as he won four stages-including one on his twenty-eighth birthday-and beat all but Facundo Viel by nearly two hours. Argentines swept the top four with Andújar ahead of Viel, Giuliano Giordana, and Juan Carlos Carignani.

Viel drew first blood with an impressive Prologue as he finished seventh among all FIM riders, faster than everyone in Rally3 and just behind a single Rally2 competitor with his brother Mariano second in class. It was entirely Andújar after that, however, en route to the overall win, his second international rally title after claiming the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship (predecessor to the W2RC), and the inaugural Ibero-American Cross Country Rally Championship as the best performing Quad rider from Latin America.

Although he has expressed interest in switching to driving a side-by-side vehicle (a common avenue for former Quad riders), Andújar will settle down for a while before figuring out his future plans in the sport.

“Now I’m going to go fishing,” he remarked to Somos Dakar. “I’m going to fish in peace and then we’ll see what the future holds for us. But the truth is that for now I’m going to be away from rally raid for a while. It’s a shame because it’s what I’m passionate about, but until we find new horizons and a new goal, I’m going to stay out of this.”

Facundo settled for second, only finishing off a stage podium once when he was fourth instage #2. Giordana was over an hour behind him after jumping from fifth to third on the final day, leapfrogging Carignani and Kamil Wiśniewski.

Wiśniewski, the winner in Portugal where the Amaury Sport Organisation confirmed Quads would not appear at Dakar in 2025, finished fifth overall and second among points-eligible riders. Although this moved him from fifth to second, he was already too far back to catch Andújar prior to Argentina as he trails by 31 points (FIM race winners earn 25 points). Hani Al-Noumesi, the only rider entered with a mathematical shot as he was seventeen points back, was eliminated by a mechanical issue on the first stage.

After retiring from Portugal with an electrical issue, Suany Martinez finished seventh ahead of her father Leonardo Martinez Saucedo.

Cooper Van Vliet had a tumultuous rally that began when he slid off course in the Prologue and crashed, resulting in damage that forced him to complete the stage in first gear, rebounded with a second to Andújar in Stage #3, had to be towed back to the bivouac the next day after his Yamaha gave out at the finish, then retired on the last day when the quad “just locked up” at 130 km/h twenty kilometres in. The Australian had been running fourth overall prior to Stage #5.

Quad overall results

Finish Number Rider Team Time Margin
1 174 Manuel Andújar 7240 Team 20:56:19 Leader
2 188 Facundo Viel* MEC Team 21:44:27 + 48:08
3 180 Giuliano Giordana* Giuliano Giordana 22:48:01 + 1:51:42
4 193 Juan Carlos Carignani* Juan Carlos Carignani 22:49:15 + 1:52:56
5 177 Kamil Wiśniewski ORLEN Team 22:50:58 + 1:54:39
6 189 Mariano Viel* MEC Team 23:30:35 + 2:34:16
7 182 Suany Martinez Suany Martinez 24:52:25 + 3:56:06
8 181 Leonardo Martinez Saucedo Leonardo Martinez Saucedo 25:40:18 + 4:43:59
9 185 Mariano Bennazar* Mariano Bennazar 26:14:58 + 5:18:39
10 194 Alejandro Fantoni* Alejandro Fantoni 27:33:46 + 6:37:27
11 175 Wilson Fabian Cerón Ochoa Wilson Fabian Cerón Ochoa 32:22:38 + 11:26:19
12 191 Santiago Rostan* Pampa Rental Rally Team 36:28:41 + 15:32:22
13 179 Hani Al-Noumesi Hani Al-Noumesi 39:23:54 + 18:27:35
14 187 Ayelén Bogado* MEC Team 45:17:45 + 24:21:26
DNF 190 Cooper Van Vliet* MEC Team DNF N/A
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Quad stage winners

Stage Rider Time
Prologue Facundo Viel* 17:15.9
Stage #1 Facundo Viel* 4:25:41
Stage #2 Manuel Andújar 4:53:57
Stage #3 Manuel Andújar 4:04:24
Stage #4 Manuel Andújar 4:11:54
Stage #5 Manuel Andújar 2:54:12

W2RC Quad standings

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

Rank Rider Points Margin
1 Manuel Andújar 76 Leader
2 Kamil Wiśniewski 45 – 31
3 Hani Al-Noumesi 44 – 32
4 Antonas Kanopkinas 37 – 39
5 Alexandre Giroud 30 – 46
6 Abdulaziz Ahli 25 – 51
7 Juraj Varga 24 – 52
8 Laisvydas Kancius 20 – 56
T-9 Suany Martinez 16 – 60
T-9 Gaëtan Martinez 16 – 60
11 Samuel Desbuisson 15 – 61
12 Leonardo Martinez Saucedo 13 – 63
T-13 Wilson Fabian Cerón Ochoa 11 – 65
T-13 Marcin Wilkołek 11 – 65