World Rally-Raid Championship

2024 BP Ultimate Rally-Raid: Maio, Yamaha win Stage 4

4 Mins read
Credit: Paulo Maria/DPPI

Yamaha might have folded their international rally raid programme following the 2022 Dakar Rally, but that doesn’t mean the Yamaha WR450F Rally can no longer make an impact in the World Rally-Raid Championship. A late run by Portugal native António Maio propelled him to the Stage #4 victory in his home country’s BP Ultimate Rally-Raid, marking the first bike stage win for Yamaha since 2021.

Maio took the stage lead in the final seventy kilometres after Honda’s Tosha Schareina, who had dominated for much of the the day, opted to race conservatively and “take good care of the material because it was a stage of wear and tear for the machine.” He had been chasing down Schareina in the first half and narrowed the gap to thirty-four seconds through the halfway mark before overtaking him, then held off Honda’s Adrien Van Beveren to win by twenty-nine seconds.

Coincidentally, Van Beveren used to race for Yamaha’s factory team until their shutdown. Van Beveren also scored the marque’s last stage win prior to Saturday when he won thrice en route to the overall at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the final race for the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship prior to its reorganisation into the W2RC. Maio races for Yamaha’s Portuguese branch with factory support, albeit not to the degree that Van Beveren enjoyed during his time with the manufacturer. Yamaha still maintains an official presence in the discipline via the Ténéré Yamaha Rally Team, which enters independent rallies with the Ténéré bike rather than the WR450F.

Schareina settled for fourth, but still finished ahead of Sebastian Bühler to maintain an overall lead of four-and-a-half minutes entering the final day.

In an opposite of Schareina’s day, Manuel Andújar‘s win streak in Quad was cut short when his driveshaft broke while leading by three minutes. He rejoined the race twenty minutes later only to crash into a stopped bike; Quad classmate Gaëtan Martinez stopped to provide assistance. By the end, he finished a dismal seventh in class and lost the overall to Kamil Wiśniewski, now sitting fourth and fourteen minutes off the podium.

Wiśniewski initially won the stage in Quad before receiving a time penalty of 3:21 for leaving the neutralisation zone too early, which allowed fellow Pole Mikołaj Krysik to claim the win instead. Nonetheless, the former inherited the overall from Andújar and now faces challenges from the CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team duo of Martinez and Antanas Kanopkinas, both of whom have identical times and trail by 2:28. The margin probably would have been even closer had Kanopkinas not briefly rolled his vehicle or Martinez missed a turn and slid into a rut.

Kanopkinas described the leg as “a war of nerves, not a special stage. The differences between second and fourth place are very small, so all day I fought for every centimeter on the track.”

Like Schareina, Nasser Al-Attiyah opted to race at a slower pace on Saturday to preserve his position atop the standing and finished seventh, nearly five minutes back. With Al-Attiyah out of the picture, Toyota Hiluxes swept the FIA stage podium with Yazeed Al-Rajhi ahead of Seth Quintero and Guillaume de Mévius; all three were separated by thirty-six seconds. X-raid Team‘s Minis rounded out the top five as Carlos Sainz held off João Ferreira; Ferreira was able to slice the gap to Al-Attiyah in half and trails him outright by 2:41.

Although Sébastien Loeb overcome mechanical issues to win the stage in Challenger, he was out of the overall picture due to his engine problem in Stage #3. He received a €1,000 fine after Saturday’s leg after using a cell phone to call the team for help while his Taurus was stopped with technical problems, which is forbidden for FIA Priority drivers and those who finished top ten in the previous stage; phones must be placed in a sealed pouch before the stage, which he and Fabian Lurquin broke to make the call.

Rokas Baciuška continues to lead in Challenger with a seven-minute advantage over Armindo Araújo.

A blanket could be placed over the top four in SSV as Ricardo Ramilo beat Ruben Rodrigues by forty-eight seconds, class leader João Monteiro by 1:03, and José Óscar Nogueira by 1:41. However, Ramilo will need some help to leapfrog Monteiro in the overall as he trails by fourteen minutes.

The overall win is all but secured in Rally2 for Bruno Santos, who has over twenty-and-a-half minutes on Edgar Canet. Barring disaster for both of them, the Amaral brothers are the only riders with a chance to win in Rally3 as Gonçalo Amaral leads Salvador by 10:48; John Medina is third but 1:24:22 back.

Stage #4 marked the rally’s return to Portugal, starting in the Spanish city of Badajoz and returning to the main hub in Grândola.

Stage #4 winners

Ultimate204Yazeed Al-RajhiOverdrive Racing2:33:43
Challenger307Sébastien Loeb*Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team2:39:34
SSV403Ricardo RamiloScuderia Ramilo2:54:50
Stock500Carlos Jorge Mendes*Carlos Jorge Mendes3:31:21
RallyGP30António Maio*Yamaha Portugal2:39:44
Rally240Bruno Santos*Momento TT Motos2:40:19
Rally350Gonçalo AmaralWingmotor Honda2:53:04
Quad178Mikołaj Krysik*Martin Rally Team3:03:56
Open700Johan Senders*Johan Senders3:00:59
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Leaders after Stage #4

Ultimate201Nasser Al-AttiyahNasser Racing9:12:49
Challenger300Rokas BaciuškaCan-Am Factory Team9:29:45
SSV405João Monteiro*South Racing Can-Am9:53:44
Stock500Carlos Jorge Mendes*Carlos Jorge Mendes13:37:32
RallyGP68Tosha SchareinaMonster Energy Honda Rally Team9:12:23
Rally240Bruno Santos*Momento TT Motos9:20:39
Rally350Gonçalo AmaralWingmotor Honda10:16:42
Quad177Kamil WiśniewskiORLEN Team11:04:46
Open700Johan Senders*Johan Senders10:51:27
National706Bernardo Sousa* #Benimoto Racing3:11:51
# – Race ended after Stage #2
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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