Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Rokas Baciuska skipping Desafio Ruta 40

Despite leading the World Rally-Raid Championship in the T4 category, Rokas Baciuška has elected to forgo the W2RC’s next race Desafío Ruta 40. In a social media post made Monday, he explained the logistical effort required to bring the team to Argentina made it difficult to justify taking part, while his T4 points lead is so massive that skipping a round will not hurt his standing.

The reigning T4 champion, Baciuška has dominated the standings in 2023. After finishing second in the Dakar Rally, he won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and Sonora Rally including every stage in the latter. He has 189 points after three of five rounds; Dakar winner Eryk Goczał, who is not running the full season, is second with 86 points whereas third-placed Shinsuke Umeda, the only other driver in the class besides Baciuška to enter all three races so far, has 79.

“My team and I have made a decision not to go to the fourth round of the World Rally-Raid Championship in Argentina, and there are many reasons for this: my early result and the corresponding number of points collected, the prospects of the opponents, logistics, financial, human resources, etc.,” he wrote. “Of course, we will not waste time, so instead of this race, we are looking for opportunities to turn the wheel in other places suitable for training.”

In late July, Baciuška made his début in a T1 car when he raced a Toyota Hilux T1+ at the Baja España Aragón, where penalties and a late tyre puncture relegated him to ninth despite otherwise setting the third best time overall. The start was mainly intended to give him more experience in higher classes, though he has expressed interest in moving up to T3 instead for 2024.

T1 outfit Bahrain Raid Xtreme is also skipping the DR 40 to focus on the season-ending Rallye du Maroc in October and the 2024 Dakar Rally; Dakar bike winner Kevin Benavides is another major face set to be absent after breaking his wrist in a testing crash. Meanwhile, although too far back to catch Baciuška, Umeda intends to race in Argentina and will likely leapfrog Goczał for second in the T4 championship barring disaster.

The Desafío Ruta 40 runs from 27 August to 1 September.