World Rally-Raid Championship

2024 Desafio Ruta 40: Oriol Vidal sidelined with back injury

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Credit: Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

World Rally-Raid Championship Challenger points leader Rokas Baciuška will not have Oriol Vidal by his side for the Desafío Ruta 40 as Vidal recovers from a back injury he sustained at the season-opening Dakar Rally in January. Sébastien Delaunay will fill in as his co-driver.

Despite the ailment, Vidal continued to call the shots for Baciuška through the next two W2RC rounds Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and BP Ultimate Rally-Raid, winning their class at the latter to take the championship lead. The duo finished third at Dakar followed by second in Abu Dhabi.

“Since Dakar I’m having some issues, and after doing some checks with the doctors we have decided to stop to try to recover without a surgery,” said Vidal. “After Portugal, I had the hope that I could make it as the gap until Argentina was quite big, but even working hard every day and almost stoping my life hasn’t been enough. Big thanks to Sébastien Delaunay, who will replace me in Argentina, as everything was kind of last minute.

“I’ll fight to be back soon.”

A navigator for over fifteen years, Delaunay has been contesting the W2RC in the premier Ultimate category with Aliyyah Koloc, who is not racing in Argentina. Through the first three rounds, Koloc and Delaunay’s best finish is seventh in Abu Dhabi.

Delaunay is no stranger to the right-side seat of a Can-Am Maverick, having worked alongside Erik Van Loon in one as recently as the Morocco Desert Challenge in April. In 2023, he made select W2RC starts as the navigator for Rebecca Busi in the SSV class.

The Desafío Ruta 40 begins with the Prologue on Sunday. Baciuška, who skipped the 2023 edition, enters the race thirty-nine points ahead of Nicolás Cavigliasso (Austin Jones is second and thirty-four points back, but is not taking part).

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