World Rally-Raid Championship

2024 Desafio Ruta 40: Hondas roll as others fall in Stage 1

3 Mins read
Credit: Honda Racing

Luciano Benavides entered his home country’s Desafío Ruta 40 hoping to build upon being the highest finishing points-earning rider in the 2023 edition. He ended up leaving in a helicopter in the first stage.

After finishing fifth in the Prologue on Sunday, the reigning World Rally-Raid Champion‘s race came to an abrupt end when he fell 258 kilometres into Stage #1 and hurt his hip. It was a disappointing conclusion after finishing second in 2023 en route to the title and in his first start since the Dakar Rally in January. His brother Kevin had to withdraw beforehand due to injuries sustained in a training crash in May.

Benavides was not the only FIM contender to experience trouble. Hani Al-Noumesi had a mechanical flareup that forced him to retire from the stage, dealing a major blow to his Quad championship hopes; he was third in points and the only rider at Argentina with a mathematical shot at the title besides leader Manuel Andújar, who is ahead of Al-Noumesi by seventeen. Andújar, last year’s Quad DR 40 winner, can clinch the championship a round early (he will not race the season-ending Rallye du Maroc) if he wins while Al-Noumesi fails to podium; ironically, Andújar’s Monday was not clean either as he lost the stage win to Facundo Viel after an oil leak caused him to arrive twelve minutes late to the bivouac and that time was added to his result. Rally2 rider Konrad Dąbrowski, fourth in his class standings, exited with a bike issue.

Championship implications were also affected in SSV, where points leader Yasir Seaidan was forced to retire with a turbo malfunction after 300 kilometres. Sebastián Guayasamín, who trailed Seaidan by thirty-seven entering the DR 40, won the leg and is in prime position to seize the top spot if he stays out of trouble the rest of the rally. Although winning the race only nets thirty points, each stage victory adds five more. Further aiding Guayasamín in the overall was a 5:14 deduction from his time for assisting the overturned Challenger of Juan Carlos Cerda at KM 226; fellow SSV driver Ricardo Ramilo got 5:43 slashed after having to stop and wait for the accident scene to be cleared from his path.

FIA Prologue winner Nasser Al-Attiyah battled with Yazeed Al-Rajhi throughout Monday’s stage, but the latter won out after finding his last wind in the last 100 kilometres to beat him by two minutes; Al-Attiyah also received a twenty-second speeding penalty to further increase the gap to 2:20. Lucas Moraes rebounded from finishing Sunday with just three wheels to taking the third step on the podium.

Marcos Baumgart bowed out with a mechanical failure at KM 251, the only Ultimate retirement of the day. Sebastián Halpern, running his first W2RC race since the 2023 DR 40, finished fifth but was not safe from trouble either as his X-raid Team was fined €10,000 (half of which will only need to be paid off if the infraction is repeated) for an underweight wheel rim discovered in post-stage scrutineering; one of his wheels was found to weigh 11.969 kilograms when twelve kg is the minimum.

Monster Energy Honda Rally Team swept the bike stage podium with Ricky Brabec narrowly edging out last year’s Ruta 40 winner and Prologue leader Tosha Schareina by one second; since Prologue results count towards the overall in FIM, Schareina has a second on Brabec there. Adrien Van Beveren finished third and forty-four seconds back.

“Today was mostly tracks and dirt roads and even we had ten kilometres of a sand wash with a little bit of navigation, but otherwise it was all good,” said Brabec. “There were a lot of fast pistes so we did 380 kilometres that were fairly quick so all in all it was a fast day. After the refuelling, I decided to make a push as I had lost a bit of time in the first part of the stage, so in the second half, I put my head down and really made sure I could enter and exit the corners without sliding too much. The roads out here are slick but we did a good job, so I’m looking forward to the next four days.”

Bradley Cox held off Romain Dumontier by 1:25 for the Rally2 stage win. Cox tailed Dumontier in the standings by just three points going into the DR 40.

Fernando Hernández initially beat John Medina for the Rally3 win, but had six minutes added for leaving the neutralisation zone too soon. Although Medina did the same, he was only penalised two minutes.

Stage #1 winners

Ultimate202Yazeed Al-RajhiOverdrive Racing3:56:00
Challenger300Rokas BaciuškaCan-Am Factory Team4:08:11
SSV401Sebastián GuayasamínBE Racing4:34:05
RallyGP9Ricky BrabecMonster Energy Honda Rally Team3:59:37
Rally218Bradley CoxBAS World KTM Racing Team4:13:32
Rally367John MedinaXraids Experience5:05:41
Quad188Facundo Viel*MEC Team4:25:41
Open Bike602Matias José Felippa*Felippa Team5:06:38
Open Cars650Jeremías Gonzalez Ferioli*Ferioli Racing Team4:26:16
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Leaders after Stage #1

Ultimate202Yazeed Al-RajhiOverdrive Racing3:56:00
Challenger300Rokas BaciuškaCan-Am Factory Team4:08:11
SSV401Sebastián GuayasamínBE Racing4:34:05
RallyGP68Tosha SchareinaMonster Energy Honda Rally Team4:16:23
Rally218Bradley CoxBAS World KTM Racing Team4:32:18
Rally367John MedinaXraids Experience5:28:10
Quad188Facundo Viel*MEC Team4:42:56
Open Bike602Matias José Felippa*Felippa Team5:26:47
Open Cars650Jeremías Gonzalez Ferioli*Ferioli Racing Team4:43:26
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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