Monday, June 24, 2024

2024 Desafio Ruta 40: Romain Dumontier claims Rally2 in Honda debut

After racing with Husqvarna, Romain Dumontier made the switch to Honda for the Desafío Ruta 40. But whether on a Husqvarna 450 Rally Replica or a Honda CRF450 Rally, the World Rally-Raid Championship‘s Rally2 points leader only knows how to win.

Dumontier traded blows with championship rival and defending race winner Bradley Cox throughout all five stages, the former claiming three straight stages with the latter’s two sandwiching them. Cox’s Stage #1 victory gave him the early edge over Dumontier by 1:23 before the Frenchman came to life with his back-to-back-to-back wins. Although this allowed him to build up some space between them, Cox never finished outside the podium to keep the margin.

Nineteen-year-old Edgar Canet, who impressed at the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid in April, was also part of the conversation as he and Cox swapped second and third place during the three days. Entering the fifth and final day, the top three were separated by just 13:30. Although Cox won the stage, he failed to make up the seven-minute deficit to Dumontier as he only won by twenty-nine seconds.

The victory provides only the slightest of breathing room in the championship with one round remaining as Dumontier increases his lead over Cox from three to eight points.

“It’s my second time here and my first win with a new bike, a Honda,” said Dumontier. Coupled with Ricky Brabec in RallyGP, Honda was the first manufacturer of 2024 to win two class overalls in a given rally. “Very happy with the new team; the bike is fantastic. The rally was great with three stage wins. Stages #3 and #4 were the most complicated; I had to stay very focused on the roadbook, and it went very well for me.”

Prologue winner Jeremías Pascual was too far back to catch the top three, but held a seven-minute edge over 2023 Rallye du Maroc Road to Dakar winner Toby Hederics going into Stage #5. This mattered little as he ended up retiring, moving Hederics up to fourth. David Casteu rounded out the top five and won the Veteran Trophy.

Konrad Dąbrowski is the only other rider still mathematically in contention for the Rally2 championship as he trails Dumontier by twenty-three, but faces an uphill battle as he had been behind by eleven after Portugal. He struggled in Argentina from the start when he finished eleventh in class in the Prologue after struggling to ride through the fog, followed by an electrical problem that knocked him out of Stage #1. Dąbrowski recovered over the next four stages with a finish as high as fifth in the second, though the early trouble relegated him to seventeenth and last among finishers.

Jatin Jain and Ramiro Barco, the only riders entered on Kove and Hero bikes, retired due to crashes. Jain had a misadventure in Argentina that he described as “like a journey to the centre of the Earth,” having landed in Córdoba only to learn his return flights were cancelled; once the race began, a rock knocked his bike’s chain off in Stage #1 and resulted in a delay before a crash two days later resulted in terminal engine damage. Barco, a new test rider for RallyGP team Hero MotoSports, fractured his tibia in a Stage #3 accident.

Rally2 overall results

Finish Number Rider Team Time Margin
1 16 Romain Dumontier Team Dumontier Racing 18:57:19 Leader
2 18 Bradley Cox BAS World KTM Racing Team 19:03:50 + 6:31
3 69 Edgar Canet* Xraids Experience 19:10:36 + 13:17
4 21 Toby Hederics* BAS World KTM Racing Team 20:05:40 + 1:08:21
5 32 David Casteu* Xraids Experience 20:33:03 + 1:35:44
6 58 Robbie Wallace* Xraids Experience 20:43:03 + 1:45:44
7 66 Rolando Martinez* Xraids Experience 22:49:44 + 3:52:25
8 85 Leonardo Cola* Leonardo Cola 23:05:28 + 4:08:09
9 99 Juan Santiago Rostan* Xraids Experience 23:13:29 + 4:16:10
10 33 Carlos Malo Peña* MED Racing Team 23:32:56 + 4:35:37
11 31 Alvaro Coppola* MED Racing Team 24:15:33 + 5:18:14
12 70 José Pablo Curletto* Xraids Experience 24:18:32 + 5:21:13
13 20 Jiří Brož BAS World KTM Racing Team 24:35:44 + 5:38:25
14 144 Fabián von Thuengen* Fabián von Thuengen 24:36:21 + 5:39:02
15 23 Nathan Rafferty* BAS World KTM Racing Team 24:40:34 + 5:43:15
16 43 Ferran Zaragoza* Pedregà Team 28:42:39 + 9:45:20
17 26 Konrad Dąbrowski DUUST Rally Team 32:08:02 + 13:10:43
DNF 19 Ramiro Barco Oliva Hero MotoSports DNF N/A
DNF 45 Jatin Jain* Xraids Experience DNF N/A
DNF 63 Jeremías Pascual* Pedregà Team DNF N/A
DNF 83 Gustavo Milutín Vila Max Clean Rally Team DNF N/A
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship
Bold – Junior Trophy
Italics – Veteran Trophy

Rally2 stage winners

Stage Rider Time
Prologue Jeremías Pascual* 17:29.4
Stage #1 Bradley Cox 4:13:32
Stage #2 Romain Dumontier 4:24:27
Stage #3 Romain Dumontier 3:27:20
Stage #4 Romain Dumontier 3:47:59
Stage #5 Bradley Cox 2:43:23

W2RC Rally2 standings

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

Rank Rider Points Margin
1 Romain Dumontier 83 Leader
2 Bradley Cox 75 – 8
3 Konrad Dąbrowski 60 – 23
4 Jean-Loup Lepan 57 – 26
5 Jan Brabec 35 – 48
6 Mathieu Dovèze 33 – 50
7 Toni Mulec 20 – 63
8 Jiří Brož 16 – 67
9 Diego Llanos 15 – 68
10 Tobias Ebster 14 – 69
11 Charan Moore 12 – 71
12 Sébastien Herbet 11 – 72
13 Charlie Herbst 8 – 75
14 David McBride 6 – 77
15 Oran O’Kelly 5 – 78
16 Sebastián Urquía 3 – 80
17 Rachid Al-Lal Lahadil 2 – 81