2023 Dakar Rally: Charan Moore rides without help to Malle Moto win

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Credit: Ridgeway Racebar

Malle Moto, officially known as Original by Motul, might be the hardest class to race at the Dakar Rally as bike riders do not have crews to help them and only some supplies. The difficulty were upped even more for the 2023 Rally due to its longer route, but Charan Moore was up for the challenge.

Moore battled with Javi Vega throughout the fourteen stages. After Moore took the overall lead by winning the first leg, Vega gave chase before losing ground when Mike Wiedemann won Stage #3. Vega finally got by Moore with a Stage #5 victory, though it was short lived as he lost it a day later.

When the Rally resumed following Stage #7’s cancellation for rain, Mário Patrão threw a wrench into Vega’s pursuit by finishing second to Moore in the next two legs and Vega’s deficit grew to over twenty-three minutes, further exacerbated by a Stage #9 fall. Vega, despite nursing rib pain, received a mulligan when Moore respectively suffered gearbox and radiator failures in Stages #10 and #11, enabling Vega to pull ahead.

Moore was able to recover by winning the second half of the Empty Quarter Marathon before delivering the coup de grâce in the fourteenth and final leg. In addition to winning Malle Moto, he finished twenty-eighth overall among all bikes and twelfth in Rally2, which Malle Moto is grouped within but has its own standings.

He described the race as “[a]n incredible journey. A rollercoaster from start to finish. Bike issues, a complete engine change, radiator issues, bush mechanics – all ace out from the comforts of a tent and box of tools and spares but enjoyed every second!

“When the mind is right they can throw anything at you! Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose!”

Despite coming up short, the runner-up is Vega’s best career finish in five tries; his previous high was fourteenth in Malle Moto in 2021, when his run was hindered by broken ribs and hemothorax. The Spaniard has attempted Malle Moto every year since the Rally moved to Saudi Arabia in 2020.

“Sacrifice is lazy, dreams are cool when you dream them but if you really want to go for something, stop dreaming and get into trouble,” wrote Vega. “I had a great team behind me, my friends, my best coaches and Sarita (partner Sara García), what can I say about her, she is the one who calms me down, the one who has taught this sport and the one that every pilot would like to have as a team-mate.

“The only Yamaha to finish the Dakar and possibly the last to climb to the podium of the toughest race in the world. […] We closed a stage, an epic Dakar, and does anyone know what will happen next? Hopefully new goals, new motivations, and new projects that and we can enjoy and pass it on to you.”

Wiedemann (Stage #3), Simon Marčič (#10), and Patrão (#11) were the other stage winners besides Moore and Vega. Patrão would finish third overall and Marčič sixth.

Wiedemann retired the day after his win following a very bizarre adventure. Just eighty kilometres into Stage #4, his fuel pump began to fail and cause gas to leak, resulting in him running out at around KM 150. Twenty minutes later, Rally2 rider and friend Mathieu Troquier gave him two litres to get moving again, only to run out a second time after ten kilometres. Fortunately for Wiedemann, this occurred near RallyGP’s Ross Branch, who was having bike problems of his own, and the latter convinced two local fans to fetch them fuel. Another bike stoppage occurred twenty minutes after resuming, prompting Wiedemann to partially disassemble the bike and empty its tank, during which he paid €50 to a pair of spectators to get more gas. The killing blow arrived when water got into the fuel tank.

Although Malle Moto competitors are prohibited from having support crews follow them like their RallyGP and Rally2 counterparts (a similar rule exists for all classes during marathon stages), they are allowed to receive help from their peers and even spectators as was the case with Wiedemann. A particularly amusing instance occurred during the final stage when Cesare Zacchetti was among many that got stuck in a mud patch after twenty-nine kilometres; Zacchetti’s bike was so embedded into the ground that he and Rally2 team-mate Ottavio Missoni Jr. had to extract it via helicopter.

American Rally Originals brought five men to Dakar with the aim of becoming the first rider from the United States to finish the Rally without assistance. Morrison Hart and non-ARO rider Petr Vlcek accomplished the mission when they finished fifteenth and eighth.

Hart’s team-mates were not as fortunate. Kyle McCoy exited after breaking his leg in Stage #4, while David Pearson suffered a C7 fracture and torn thigh muscle in the following stage with which he still made the finish before calling it a race. Paul Neff dislocated his wrist, broke multiple ribs, and received stable fractures in his lower spine after crashing into a dune in Stage #10. Pearson’s brother Jim left with two stages to go for mechanical problems.

James Hillier overcame a dislocated collarbone to finish thirteenth in his Dakar début, meaning the former Isle of Man TT champion can now say he conquered two of the toughest motorbike races in the world. One spot behind Hillier was Carlos Verza, the only rider competing on a Quad. Kirsten Landman, the only female rider in the class, was in front of Hillier by a position. She was among a three-pronged success story for South Africa alongside Moore’s win and Stuart Gregory finishing ninth.

“Malle Moto/Originals by Motul Class has become my family and I have made so many new friends,” posted Landman prior to the final stage. “It’s been the experience of a life time.”

Malle Moto overall finishers

140Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing52:24:42Leader
299Javi Vega*Pont Grup Yamaha52:45:43+ 21:05
343Mário Patrão*Mário Patrão Motosport53:55:24+ 1:30:42
445David Pabiška*SP Moto Bohemia Racing Team55:44:56+ 3:20:14
5129David Gaits*Happyness Racing Igoa Moto57:18:29+ 4:53:47
650Simon Marčič*Marčič58:46:18+ 6:21:36
757Makis Dewi Rees-Stavros*Stavros59:14:03+ 6:49:21
863Petr Vlcek*Detyens Racing61:45:17+ 9:20:35
9100Stuart Gregory*Stuart Gregory63:15:41+ 10:50:59
10128Clément Razy*Clément Razy63:31:56+ 11:07:14
1149Cesare Zacchetti*Team Lucky Explorer64:18:18+ 11:53:36
1290Kirsten Landman*ASP Rope Access International67:37:08+ 15:12:26
1380James Hillier*Rich Racing OMG Racing Ltd.70:05:40+ 17:40:58
14158Carlos Alejandro Verza*Verza Rally Team81:35:00+ 29:10:18
15105Mo Hart*American Rally Originals85:45:15+ 33:20:33
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Malle Moto stage winners

Prologue40Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing43:40
Stage #140Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing4:47:52
Stage #240Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing6:05:49
Stage #391Mike Wiedemann*Wiedemann Motorsports5:27:07
Stage #499Javi Vega*Pont Grup Yamaha5:22:53
Stage #599Javi Vega*Pont Grup Yamaha5:23:06
Stage #640Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing3:46:35
Stage #7N/ACancelled due to rainN/AN/A
Stage #840Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing4:29:23
Stage #940Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing3:52:37
Stage #1050Simon Marčič*Marčič2:08:03
Stage #1143Mário Patrão*Mário Patrão Motorsport3:29:30
Stage #1240Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing2:11:49
Stage #1340Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing2:44:28
Stage #1440Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing1:28:03

Overall winners

T1200Nasser Al-AttiyahToyota Gazoo Racing45:03:15
T2250Ronald Basso*Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body107:39:42
T3303Austin JonesRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team51:55:53
T4428Eryk GoczałEnergyLandia Rally Team53:10:14
T5502Janus van KasterenBoss Machinery Team de Rooy IVECO54:03:33
RallyGP47Kevin BenavidesRed Bull KTM Factory Racing44:27:20
Rally217Romain DumontierTeam Dumontier Racing47:03:58
Malle Moto40Charan Moore*HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing52:24:42
Quad151Alexandre Giroud*Drag’on Rally Team56:44:30
Classic778Juan Morera*Toyota Classic428 points
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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