Sunday, May 19, 2024

Rafael Lesmes switching to truck, entering Dakar Classic in 2024

Rafael Lesmes will trade in his Can-Am Maverick for a Mercedes-Benz 1844 4×4 truck in 2024 when he enters the Dakar Classic. Like 2023, the effort is a joint venture between Lesmes’ CUP 59 team and the Dakar Por La Vida (“Dakar for Life”) foundation.

Lesmes ran the main Dakar Rally in January, racing in the T3 category but retired after five stages due to mechanical issues. It was his first Dakar since 2007, where he finished eighty-ninth, with his debut coming in 2004 where he bowed out with an engine failure.

Dakar Por La Vida is a breast cancer awareness effort that has the backing of Think Pink Europe. The foundation is also partnered with the Invi Association for male breast cancer awareness and runs the Pink Mind Project to provide mental health services for those affected by breast cancer. Aligning with the project’s platform, Lesmes’ T3 and truck are both coloured bright pink.

Despite retiring from the 2023 Dakar Rally, Lesmes regarded the race as a prime opportunity to spread the foundation’s message.

To prepare for 2024, Lesmes will be the navigator for Alberto Herrero at the Baja España Aragón on 21/22 July. Herrero’s truck is fielded by TH-Trucks Rally Team, who did the same for Lesmes’ T3. Afterwards, the team will race the inaugural RallyClassics Africa in Morocco on 16–23 September.

Additional races are also possible depending on scheduling.

Unlike the main Dakar Rally, the Dakar Classic is a navigation-based event. Both begin on 5 January 2024.