Saturday, April 20, 2024

Jeremias Pascual enters Desafio Ruta 40 on Dakar 2024 mission

20-year-old Jeremías Pascual might be a newcomer to rally raid, but he looked like a seasoned veteran when he finished second among all bikes in the South American Rally Race in February. As August approaches, he already has the greatest rally raid of all on his mind.

Hoping to make the 2024 Dakar Rally, Pascual intends to enter the Desafío Ruta 40, racing a Beta 430 RR for MEC Team. He will participate in the Rally2 category with emphasis on the Road to Dakar, a subclass for those with no prior Dakar Rally experience. The best performing RtD entrant in races that fall under its umbrella—which includes all four World Rally-Raid Championship rounds like the DR 40—earns free admission for Dakar.

“The Desafío Ruta 40 will only be my third rally raid, for which, first of all, I want to continue learning from the discipline,” he told Vía País. “Learning is something that you never finish doing.

“Racing Dakar is a dream for any racer. It is for me too. I will do everything possible to win the registration.”

Pascual came to rally from the Campeonato Argentino de Motocross, Argentina’s national motocross series, where he won the MX2 B championship in 2019. In 2022, he made his FIM Motocross World Championship début at the MXGP of Patagonia-Argentina, finishing thirteenth in MX2.

In February, he and his family-run team entered the South American Rally Race on what he admitted to Campeones was an impulsive decision, explaining they “were looking at things on our cell phones and saw that registration was open so we signed up.” Despite SARR being his first rally, Pascual quickly impressed by finishing on the bike podium in all but one of the nine stages and won four. He would finish second behind four-time Dakar racer Martin Suplessis.

Since SARR, he has taken part in the navigation-based Campeonato Argentino de Rally y Navegación (CaNaV). However, his season was put on hold in May when he crashed in Stage #2 of the CaNav round in Caucete, resulting in tendon ruptures in his right thumb.

Now recovered from his injuries, he can begin his Dakar pursuit. On 20 July, the FIM and Amaury Sport Organisation will select the initial wave of riders for the 2024 Dakar Rally, though others can clinch spots if they impress in later races.

Regardless of how things go, Pascual is happy to be along for the ride.

“Without a doubt, taking part in this event that will be for the World Rally-Raid Championship is something that will make me enjoy,” Pascual continued in his interview with Vía País. “I will share it with my family, who always accompanies me and we are a great team. I feel happy just knowing that I have the opportunity to compete together with them in this great race.”

Pascual will be the first rider to race a Beta bike in a W2RC round since its inception in 2022. The Italian off-road bike manufacturer is one of the top brands in the Enduro World Championship, winning five straight EnduroGP titles from 2017 to 2021. Beta last appeared at Dakar in 2021 with Tiziano Internó, who competed in the Malle Moto class for solo riders and retired after three stages; a Beta piloted by Mirko Pavan finished fourth in Malle Moto at the 2019 edition.

The Desafío Ruta 40 YPF begins on 27 August. Many of Pascual’s SARR rivals will take part including Joaquín Debeljuh, Martín Franco, Iván Martín, and Marcio Yampa.