World Rally-Raid Championship

2023 Desafio Ruta 40: Despite Docherty dominance, Bradley Cox triumphs in Rally2

4 Mins read
Credit: Rally Zone

Michael Docherty impressed in his return to the World Rally-Raid Championship at the Desafío Ruta 40 after missing the last two rounds due to injury, even if the final results don’t reflect it.

He won three stages in the Rally2 category, outscoring rival and BAS World KTM team-mate Bradley Cox‘s two, but was out of the overall picture in Stage #2 after shrubs yanked the fuel pump supply connector off his bike with fifty kilometres before the finish. Unable to get the bike fixed in time, he was forced to withdraw from the stage. While Rally2 riders are allowed to continue the rally after a stage retirement provided they can repair their bike (a luxury not granted for the top-level RallyGP class), bowing out of a leg results in a hefty time penalty that eliminates them from the overall.

Docherty returned to the race for the second half with a vengeance by claiming two more stage wins. He especially impressed in Stage #4 as he finished fourth among all bikes, keeping pace with eventual RallyGP champion Tosha Schareina as he did on the first day. Of course, due to his DNF, he had to settle for fifteenth overall.

With Docherty out of the picture, Konrad Dąbrowski and Romain Dumontier became Cox’s main challengers for the rest of the race but were still too far back to mount enough of a charge. Entering the final stage, Dąbrowski trailed Cox by nine minutes and forty seconds, and failed to close the gap as Cox instead won the leg to ice the victory. Despite a navigation mistake, a flurry of RallyGP penalties allowed Cox to finish Stage #5 in fifth for all riders.

The victory is Cox’s first in W2RC competition and his second at a 2023 international rally raid; his first of the latter came at the Taklimakan Rally in China in June. His overall time of 17:01:01 put him eighth in the overall bike classification.

“I’ve never raced in Argentina before. This is unbelievable. I’ve heard so many stories from here, my dad did it in a car. He gave me a little bit of advice, but that was long ago,” Cox stated. “From the moment I saw it, I just fell in love with the terrain. Every day was great for me. I started off steady and managed to get my way closer and closer to the top ones. I even managed to ride in the top three on time in a couple of days.

“I’m super happy to win the Rally2 W2RC, it was the goal. The first half of my year was not so good: crash in Dakar, missed Abu Dhabi, Mexico was terrible, so this is a good step for me. Argentina was the lucky country, maybe I’ll move in.”

While finishing eleven minutes back of Cox, Dąbrowski still recorded his first W2RC podium.

Dumontier’s third was a strong conclusion to a race that began in disaster. He suffered a mechanical failure partway through the Prologue that necessitated an engine change, resulting in a fifteen-minute time penalty, followed by crashing and having another minute tacked on for speeding in Stage #1. While he was too far back to catch Cox, he could have flipped with Dąbrowski for second had the penalties not occurred.

Nonetheless, the podium allows the Dakar Rally and Sonora Rally winner to regain the W2RC Rally2 points lead from Paolo Lucci. Lucci suffered a hard crash in Stage #2 that prevented him from continuing.

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge W2RC victor Jean-Loup Lepan remains third in points with a fourth, while Prologue winner Diego Llanos placed fifth as the highest-finishing rider not competing for points. Juan Santiago Rostan was sixth and clinched free registration for the 2024 Dakar Rally.

Behind Rostan, Dakar veteran Sebastián Urquía was seventh; Urquía won the Group N class at the last DR 40 in 2018. Iván Martín, the reigning M2 champion of Argentina’s domestic rally regularity series Campeonato Argentino de Rally y Navegación (CaNav), finished thirteenth overall.

Lucci and Jeremías Pascual were the only riders to not reach the finish. Pascual, the only competitor on a Beta and the 2022 South American Rally Race runner-up, had a mechanical issue in Stage #2 followed by his navigation tower breaking off two days later. On the final day, Pascual crashed and had to be airlifted out.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted to finish this race, but that’s the way it is, racing is racing,” wrote Pascual. “Never give up.”

Rally2 overall results

121Bradley CoxBAS World KTM Racing Team17:01:01Leader
223Konrad DąbrowskiDUUST Diverse Racing17:39:54+ 38:53
317Romain DumontierHT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing17:51:29+ 50:28
476Jean-Loup LepanDUUST Diverse Racing17:55:12+ 54:11
529Diego Llanos*Xraids Experience19:30:13+ 2:29:12
669Juan Santiago Rostan*Pampa Rental Rally Team19:47:59+ 2:46:58
7113Sebastián Urquía*Xraids Experience20:57:33+ 3:56:32
860Francisco Arredondo*BAS World KTM Racing Team21:27:38+ 4:26:37
957Fabien von Thüngen*Fabien von Thüngen22:36:11+ 5:35:10
1061Carlos Llibre*Xraids Experience22:40:34+ 5:39:33
1167Rolando Martinez*Xraids Experience22:56:29+ 5:55:28
1256Jiří BrožBAS World KTM Racing Team23:30:32+ 6:29:31
1365Iván Martín*Iván Martín25:08:04+ 8:07:03
1435Dominique Cizeau GiraultXraids Experience25:15:58+ 8:14:57
15111Michael DochertyBAS World KTM Racing Team29:01:02+ 12:00:1
1655David Martin*MED Racing Team29:33:11+ 12:32:10
1764Carlos Malo Peña*Carlos Malo Peña44:34:04+ 27:33:03
DNF46Paolo LucciBAS World KTM Racing TeamDNFN/A
DNF66Jeremías Pascual*Jeremías PascualDNFN/A
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Rally2 stage winners

PrologueDiego Llanos*57:20 (7:10)
Stage #1Michael Docherty3:08:23
Stage #2Bradley Cox3:46:54
Stage #3Michael Docherty3:10:21
Stage #4Michael Docherty2:57:17
Stage #5Bradley Cox2:43:19
Final Prologue times are calculated by multiplying the raw time by eight; the latter is in parentheses

Overall winners

T1200Nasser Al-AttiyahToyota Gazoo Racing15:10:03
T3302Mitch GuthrieRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team16:22:31
T4403Gustavo Gallego*South Racing Can-Am18:34:37
RallyGP68Tosha Schareina*Honda Team15:58:46
Rally221Bradley CoxBAS World KTM Racing Team17:01:01
Rally3122Ardit KurtajXraids Experience23:15:45
Quad152Manuel Andújar7240 Team19:24:30
Open Auto650Blas Zapag*Copetrol Rally23:06:34
Open T3670Jeremías Gonzalez Ferioli*Ferioli Racing Team17:34:31
Open T4678Juan José Semino*Xcorpion Rally Racing20:59:00
Open Moto608Rodrigo de Abreu Sallum*MED Racing Team22:36:24
Open Quad623Santiago Rostan*Pampa Rental Rally Team25:28:33
Road to Dakar Auto678Juan José Semino*Xcorpion Rally Racing20:59:00
Road to Dakar Moto69Juan Santiago Rostan*Pampa Rental Rally Team25:28:33

W2RC Rally2 standings

1Romain Dumontier79Leader
2Paolo Lucci66– 13
3Jean-Loup Lepan58– 21
T-4Bradley Cox35– 44
T-4Jacob Argubright35– 44
6Michael Docherty33– 46
7Konrad Dąbrowski31– 48
8Toni Mulec30– 49
9Dominique Cizeau Girault23– 56
10Mathieu Dovèze17– 62
11Neels Theric13– 66
12Jan Brabec12– 67
T-13Jon Florea11– 68
T-13Jiří Brož11– 68
T-13Mirjam Pol11– 68
16Sunier9– 70
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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