Dakar

2024 Dakar Rally: Manuel Andujar snaps Giroud’s Quad streak

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Credit: Frederic Le Floc'h/DPPI

The 2024 Dakar Rally‘s Quad category was rather barren compared to previous years with just ten entries compared to nineteen in 2023, owing to tightened eligibility requirements from the Amaury Sport Organisation that require everyone to have prior World Rally-Raid Championship experience or be signed up for it. On the other hand, this meant all ten riders are earning points towards the 2024 championship.

Although many usual faces like Pablo Copetti and W2RC runner-up Rodolfo Guillioli did not return while former winners Alejandro and Marcos Patronelli aborted their plans of racing, Manuel Andújar and Alexandre Giroud took up the challenge of putting on a good show in the face of reduced numbers. Giroud looked to be the first Quad rider to three-peat, but Andújar—the category’s last winner in 2021 prior to Giroud’s streak—narrowly held off late charge by Giroud to score the win.

Andújar had contended with Giroud late in the 2023 edition before being forced to drop out by mechanical trouble. This time, his Yamaha Raptor 700 did not let him down. Finishing on the stage podium for the first three days and winning Stage #4 gave him the overall lead, which he never relinquished.

It was not just cruising, however, as he had Giroud breathing down his neck. In fact, Giroud probably could have had a chance if not for a Stage #2 engine change that dealt him a fifteen-minute time penalty. After Andújar left Stage #4 with a 21-minute edge over him, Giroud sliced down the margin to under six and a half minutes with the help of five stage wins and Andújar’s own penalty for swapping engines.

However, Andújar’s Stage #10 victory fluffed the gap back up to eight minutes. Giroud won the final two stages, but Andújar was right behind him both days, trailing by thirty-seven seconds in Stage #11 and fifteen seconds in Stage #12 to render the deficit virtually unaffected.

“I saw it from the outside, experiencing it on the inside, finishing last; I saw it from fourth place, missing out on the podium; I saw it from the top of the podium; I had to see it from the ground, all bloody; I saw it from a helicopter when I was pulled out in the last stage after breaking the engine, leaving me empty-handed,” began a post from Andújar. “What a crazy race! Today, with the same eyes, we see it again from the top with glory in our pockets: we are 2024 Dakar champions!!”

After missing out on the podium in 2023, Juraj Varga finished third ahead of defending W2RC champion Laisvydas Kancius.

Giroud remarked, “There are times when a podium with beautiful values is better than a victory where it is difficult to look each other in the face.”

Antanas Kanopkinas rounded out the top five in the maiden Dakar for CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team. The rally began on an inauspicious note for the team when his CFORCE 1000 broke down during private testing days before the start, while the wheel rim broke on the vehicle during the penultimate day. Nonetheless, he still reached the finish and a teddy bear air freshener he had riding on the vehicle survived the two weeks of action.

“We would like to utter the legendary phrase of Benediktas Vanagas: ‘Dakar ends, Dakar begins,’ but we are completely in the dark about the decisions of the motorcycle sports federation (FIM) and the Dakar organisers ASO,” Kanopkinas commented. “In other words, we do not yet know what we will do next January. On the other hand, now is the time to appreciate and be happy with this year’s performance: we could have done much better, but we could have done much worse.

“Dakar is a very difficult marathon. You fight for six to eight hours on the track for almost two weeks and even the slightest mistake can erase all the work and effort you have put in. I feel very grateful to everyone who supported, was together and believed. Thanks also to those who doubted us; this is an additional motivation. We were a little bit stumped, but the key phrase in our team is ‘never give up’. Thanks to everyone. Dakar was amazing.”

Marcelo Medeiros won the first two stages, overcoming a crash in Stage #2 that bruised his thigh and hip, but another accident in Stage #7 ultimately ended his race. He had been third overall prior to his retirement. Prologue winner Francisco Moreno bowed out four days later with a front suspension failure. Toni Vingut retired after a massive crash in Stage #10 that resulted in a broken ulna, radius, sacrum, and six ribs.

Quad overall results

FinishNumberRiderTeamTimeMargin
1174Manuel Andújar7240 Team64:16:53Leader
2172Alexandre GiroudDrag’on Rally Team64:24:52+ 7:59
3171Juraj VargaVarga Motorsport68:20:18+ 4:03:25
4170Laisvydas KanciusStory Racing SRO71:30:38+ 7:13:45
5175Antanas KanopkinasCFMOTO Thunder Racing Team113:25:50+ 49:08:57
6178Samuel DesbuissonDrag’on Rally Team192:42:55+ 128:26:02
7179Hani Al-NoumesiHani Al-Noumesi200:03:28+ 135:46:35
DNF173Francisco MorenoDrag’on Rally TeamDNFN/A
DNF176Toni VingutVisit Sant Antoni – IbizaDNFN/A
DNF177Marcelo MedeirosTaguatur Racing TeamDNFN/A

Quad stage winners

StageRiderTime
PrologueFrancisco Moreno21:31.4
Stage #1Marcelo Medeiros6:16:25
Stage #2Marcelo Medeiros5:37:04
Stage #3Alexandre Giroud5:43:34
Stage #4Manuel Andújar3:35:06
Stage #5Marcelo Medeiros1:51:09
Stage #6Alexandre Giroud9:57:12
Stage #7Alexandre Giroud6:51:26
Stage #8Manuel Andújar4:24:40
Stage #9Alexandre Giroud5:49:34
Stage #10Manuel Andújar4:49:23
Stage #11Alexandre Giroud6:13:57
Stage #12Alexandre Giroud2:05:14

W2RC Quad standings

For readability, only those who earned points are listed.

RankRiderPointsMargin
1Manuel Andújar38Leader
2Alexandre Giroud30– 8
3Juraj Varga24– 14
4Laisvydas Kancius20– 18
5Antonas Kanopkinas17– 21
6Samuel Desbuisson15– 23
7Hani Al-Noumesi14– 24
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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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