World Rally-Raid Championship

2024 Desafio Ruta 40: Foggy Prologue runs through Traslasierra mountains

2 Mins read
Credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing

The seventeen-kilometre El Cóndor to Copina was one of the most famous stages of the World Rally Championship during the Rally Argentina’s existence. Although the event has not been held since 2020, the gravel stage was revived for a slightly different form of rally Sunday when the World Rally-Raid Championship took to the Traslasierra for the Desafío Ruta 40‘s Prologue.

Nasser Al-Attiyah, no stranger to El Cóndor as a WRC alumnus, set a time of 16:17 in his Prodrive Hunter, three seconds faster than in his Ford Fiesta at the 2014 Rally Argentina. The W2RC points leader smashed the stage with over twenty-two seconds on Ultimate runner-up Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Challenger leader Rokas Baciuška, who set identical times.

The mountains were covered in fog Sunday, making it difficult for bike riders as they had to navigate an already tricky and technical course. Defending winner Tosha Schareina described the start of the stage as “super scary for everybody” due to the weather. Some like Ricky Brabec opted to remove their goggles despite the dangers posed, a move that helped him out as he finished second behind Schareina.

“It was good to be back despite the poor visibility and cold weather, two of my least favourite things, but we managed to do pretty well,” said Brabec, who was running his first W2RC event since winning the Dakar Rally in January. “I took my goggles off right at the start and it felt like crying for seventeen kilometres as the moisture, air, and fog were making my eyeballs all wet.”

Their Honda colleague Skyler Howes continued to wear his goggles but repeatedly had to wipe moisture off as he rode, eventually finishing thirteenth overall and eighth in RallyGP.

“I knew that I didn’t want to damage my eyes so kept them on and just kept wiping them but we were in the fog for the majority of the Prologue,” Howes explained. “It was super difficult, really slippery and we were on a mountain, so if you got it wrong or didn’t break in time for the corner because you didn’t see it, you would slide off a cliff, so I just took it easy and got through it.”

The Quad of Facundo Viel ranked fourth among all FIM entries even ahead of defending W2RC bike champion Luciano Benavides and the fastest Rally2 bike of Jeremías Pascual.

Lucas Moraes finished the Prologue with only three wheels after the right rear came off, placing over twenty-eight minutes back of Al-Attiyah. Fortunately, the issue can be resolved and Prologue times do not apply for the FIA, effectively giving him a clean slate for Stage #1 on Monday.

Prologue winners

Ultimate200Nasser Al-AttiyahNasser Racing16:17.8
Challenger300Rokas BaciuškaCan-Am Factory Team16:39.8
SSV400Yasir SeaidanRace World Team17:25.3
RallyGP68Tosha SchareinaMonster Energy Honda Rally Team16:45.0
Rally263Jeremías Pascual*Pedregà Team17:29.4
Rally334Fernando HernándezMED Racing Team21:36.1
Quad188Facundo Viel*MEC Team17:31.4
Open Bike600Baltazar Frezze Pissoni*MED Racing Team20:06.7
Open Cars650Jeremías Gonzalez Ferioli*Ferioli Racing Team17:10.8
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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