World Rally-Raid Championship

2024 Desafio Ruta 40: Rokas Baciuska dominates for second straight Challenger win

3 Mins read
Credit: Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

With Oriol Vidal unavailable as he nurses a back injury, Rokas Baciuška entrusted his co-driver’s seat to Sébastien Delaunay for the Desafío Ruta 40. Regardless of who was his navigator, Baciuška still knows how to win.

The Challenger points leader got off to a hot start as he won the first two stages, though World Rally-Raid Championship rivals Nicolás Cavigliasso and Marcelo Gastaldi were right on his tail. Nazareno López and Cavigliasso retaliated with an Argentine 1–2 in Stage #3 while Baciuška finished off the podium, losing the top three to Dania Akeel by nineteen seconds; it was not for a lack of trying either as Baciuška admitted the locals were too good on their home soil.

He struck back by winning the fourth leg, giving him a nine-and-a-half-minute advantage over Cavigliasso going into Stage #5. While Baciuška raced more conservatively on the last day and finished fifth to Cavigliasso’s third, the latter only beat him by thirty-four seconds.

The win, his second in a row, increased Baciuška’s advantage in the championship as he goes from leading Cavigliasso by 34 to 44 points with one round remaining. Cavigliasso is the only other driver with a mathematical shot at the title, but he would need to win both the Rallye du Maroc’s overall and at least three stages while Baciuška struggles. On the other hand, Cavigliasso’s wife Valentina Pertegarini is now the Challenger leader in the co-driver’s standings as she moves past the absent Vidal and leads by five points.

“It’s our first time winning this rally and it was a pleasure to race in front of these fans,” said Baciuška. He skipped the 2023 edition for logistical reasons and being so far ahead in the T4 (now SSV) championship that he could afford to not take part. “We’re still missing some points to be world champion and we’ll be back to finish the job in Morocco.”

Gastaldi won the last stage ahead of Akeel by thirty-five seconds, but she held him off for the final step on the overall podium with a ten-second gap. It is Akeel’s first podium in the W2RC.

“From day one of this rally, my psychology was to race to my absolute limit,” commented Akeel. “On the final day, we fell just shy of the stage win, but I’m still happy with the overall performance and taking third place overall.”

López’s quest for a top five were dashed the day after his stage win when he and multiple other drivers, including fellow Challenger competitor Puck Klaassen, got stuck in fesh fesh. While Klaassen dropped out of the race, López eventually made the finish albeit as the last car in class. David Zille had the same trouble that sank him to the bottom in Stage #3 as he placed tenth.

Challenger overall results

1300Rokas BaciuškaSébastien DelaunayCan-Am Factory Team18:54:59Leader
2302Nicolás CavigliassoValentina PertegariniTaurus B.V.19:03:48+ 8:49
3306Dania AkeelStéphane DupléBBR Motorsport19:16:43+ 21:44
4303Marcelo GastaldiCarlos SachsBBR Motorsport19:16:53+ 21:54
5312Hernán Garcés*Juan Pablo LatrachSouth Racing Can-Am20:11:58+ 1:16:59
6311Lucas Del Rio*Bruno JacomyTeam Chile20:38:55+ 1:43:56
7314Nadia Lafuente*Maria UribeACT Rally23:49:51+ 4:54:52
8315Juan Carlos Cerda*Alvaro Juan Leon QuintanillaTerraCop Rally37:44:46+ 18:49:47
9316Oscar Santos*Mirna PereiraSantos Racing39:47:11+ 20:52:12
10308David ZilleSebastian CesanaTaurus B.V.39:51:15+ 20:56:16
11313Nazareno López*Lisandro SisternaBBR Motorsport59:28:37+ 40:33:38
DNF309Puck Klaassen*Augusto SanzTaurus B.V.DNFN/A
DNF317Sandro Peppi*Raimundo PeppiTeam ChileDNFN/A
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Challenger stage winners

PrologueRokas Baciuška16:39.8
Stage #1Rokas Baciuška4:08:11
Stage #2Rokas Baciuška4:30:15
Stage #3Nazareno López*3:27:51
Stage #4Rokas Baciuška3:54:37
Stage #5Marcelo Gastaldi2:45:22

W2RC Challenger standings

For readability, competitors registered for the championship who have not earned points are excluded.

Drivers’ standings

1Rokas Baciuška209Leader
2Nicolás Cavigliasso165– 44
3Marcelo Gastaldi130– 79
4Austin Jones126– 83
5Dania Akeel98– 111
6Mitch Guthrie85– 124
7Ricardo Porém64– 145
8Mário Franco47– 162
9David Zille40– 169

Co-drivers’ standings

1Valentina Pertegarini165Leader
2Oriol Vidal160– 5
3Carlos Sachs130– 35
4Stéphane Duplé98– 67
5Kellon Walch85– 80
6Oriol Mena78– 87
7Sébastien Delaunay49– 116
8Gustavo Gugelmin48– 117
9Sebastian Cesana40– 125
T-10Luís Marques32– 133
T-10Augusto Sanz32– 133
12João Serôdio27– 138
13Daniel Jordão20– 145
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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