Monday, June 24, 2024

2024 Desafio Ruta 40: Rokas Baciuska dominates for second straight Challenger win

With Oriol Vidal unavailable as he nurses a back injury, Rokas Baciuška entrusted his co-driver’s seat to Sébastien Delaunay for the Desafío Ruta 40. Regardless of who was his navigator, Baciuška still knows how to win.

The Challenger points leader got off to a hot start as he won the first two stages, though World Rally-Raid Championship rivals Nicolás Cavigliasso and Marcelo Gastaldi were right on his tail. Nazareno López and Cavigliasso retaliated with an Argentine 1–2 in Stage #3 while Baciuška finished off the podium, losing the top three to Dania Akeel by nineteen seconds; it was not for a lack of trying either as Baciuška admitted the locals were too good on their home soil.

He struck back by winning the fourth leg, giving him a nine-and-a-half-minute advantage over Cavigliasso going into Stage #5. While Baciuška raced more conservatively on the last day and finished fifth to Cavigliasso’s third, the latter only beat him by thirty-four seconds.

The win, his second in a row, increased Baciuška’s advantage in the championship as he goes from leading Cavigliasso by 34 to 44 points with one round remaining. Cavigliasso is the only other driver with a mathematical shot at the title, but he would need to win both the Rallye du Maroc’s overall and at least three stages while Baciuška struggles. On the other hand, Cavigliasso’s wife Valentina Pertegarini is now the Challenger leader in the co-driver’s standings as she moves past the absent Vidal and leads by five points.

“It’s our first time winning this rally and it was a pleasure to race in front of these fans,” said Baciuška. He skipped the 2023 edition for logistical reasons and being so far ahead in the T4 (now SSV) championship that he could afford to not take part. “We’re still missing some points to be world champion and we’ll be back to finish the job in Morocco.”

Gastaldi won the last stage ahead of Akeel by thirty-five seconds, but she held him off for the final step on the overall podium with a ten-second gap. It is Akeel’s first podium in the W2RC.

“From day one of this rally, my psychology was to race to my absolute limit,” commented Akeel. “On the final day, we fell just shy of the stage win, but I’m still happy with the overall performance and taking third place overall.”

López’s quest for a top five were dashed the day after his stage win when he and multiple other drivers, including fellow Challenger competitor Puck Klaassen, got stuck in fesh fesh. While Klaassen dropped out of the race, López eventually made the finish albeit as the last car in class. David Zille had the same trouble that sank him to the bottom in Stage #3 as he placed tenth.

Challenger overall results

Finish Number Driver Co-Driver Team Time Margin
1 300 Rokas Baciuška Sébastien Delaunay Can-Am Factory Team 18:54:59 Leader
2 302 Nicolás Cavigliasso Valentina Pertegarini Taurus B.V. 19:03:48 + 8:49
3 306 Dania Akeel Stéphane Duplé BBR Motorsport 19:16:43 + 21:44
4 303 Marcelo Gastaldi Carlos Sachs BBR Motorsport 19:16:53 + 21:54
5 312 Hernán Garcés* Juan Pablo Latrach South Racing Can-Am 20:11:58 + 1:16:59
6 311 Lucas Del Rio* Bruno Jacomy Team Chile 20:38:55 + 1:43:56
7 314 Nadia Lafuente* Maria Uribe ACT Rally 23:49:51 + 4:54:52
8 315 Juan Carlos Cerda* Alvaro Juan Leon Quintanilla TerraCop Rally 37:44:46 + 18:49:47
9 316 Oscar Santos* Mirna Pereira Santos Racing 39:47:11 + 20:52:12
10 308 David Zille Sebastian Cesana Taurus B.V. 39:51:15 + 20:56:16
11 313 Nazareno López* Lisandro Sisterna BBR Motorsport 59:28:37 + 40:33:38
DNF 309 Puck Klaassen* Augusto Sanz Taurus B.V. DNF N/A
DNF 317 Sandro Peppi* Raimundo Peppi Team Chile DNF N/A
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Challenger stage winners

Stage Driver Time
Prologue Rokas Baciuška 16:39.8
Stage #1 Rokas Baciuška 4:08:11
Stage #2 Rokas Baciuška 4:30:15
Stage #3 Nazareno López* 3:27:51
Stage #4 Rokas Baciuška 3:54:37
Stage #5 Marcelo Gastaldi 2:45:22

W2RC Challenger standings

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

Drivers’ standings

Rank Driver Points Margin
1 Rokas Baciuška 209 Leader
2 Nicolás Cavigliasso 165 – 44
3 Marcelo Gastaldi 130 – 79
4 Austin Jones 126 – 83
5 Dania Akeel 98 – 111
6 Mitch Guthrie 85 – 124
7 Ricardo Porém 64 – 145
8 Mário Franco 47 – 162
9 David Zille 40 – 169

Co-drivers’ standings

Rank Co-Driver Points Margin
1 Valentina Pertegarini 165 Leader
2 Oriol Vidal 160 – 5
3 Carlos Sachs 130 – 35
4 Stéphane Duplé 98 – 67
5 Kellon Walch 85 – 80
6 Oriol Mena 78 – 87
7 Sébastien Delaunay 49 – 116
8 Gustavo Gugelmin 48 – 117
9 Sebastian Cesana 40 – 125
T-10 Luís Marques 32 – 133
T-10 Augusto Sanz 32 – 133
12 João Serôdio 27 – 138
13 Daniel Jordão 20 – 145