World Rally-Raid Championship

2024 Desafio Ruta 40: Yazeed Al-Rajhi holds off Al-Attiyah for Ultimate win

4 Mins read
Credit: Edoardo Bauer/DPPI

As was the case in 2023, the 2024 World Rally-Raid Championship will come down to the final round between Nasser Al-Attiyah and Yazeed Al-Rajhi. This time, the battle is closer as they left Argentina separated by twenty-five points and Al-Rajhi with momentum after narrowly defeating Al-Attiyah for the Desafío Ruta 40 win.

The defending DR 40 victor, Al-Attiyah’s quest for a third consecutive win seemed to start on a high note when he won the Prologue. However, he quickly faced stiff resistance thereafter as Al-Rajhi led an onslaught of Toyota Hiluxes alongside Toyota Gazoo Racing‘s Lucas Moraes and Seth Quintero. Al-Rajhi claimed the overall lead with his Stage #1 win and never relinquished it despite Al-Attiyah’s best efforts. By the end, Al-Rajhi had just barely beaten him by a mere forty seconds.

A one-minute penalty for Al-Attiyah in Stage #3 may have been the difference maker. His co-driver Édouard Boulanger had undone his seatbelts and HANS device to address the smell of smoke in the cockpit; upon returning to his seat, he signalled to Al-Attiyah to drive again despite not having properly fastened said safety devices. Their Prodrive had driven roughly twenty-seven seconds as Boulanger was tightening everything. The penalty dropped Al-Attiyah from second to third for the stage and left him trailing Al-Rajhi by thirteen seconds entering Stage #5, which he was unable to make up as Al-Rajhi won.

“We finished in second place and that keeps us in a strong position to fight for the championship,” said Al-Attiyah. “We will be racing in the final round in Morocco in October with our new car and the aim is to finish this season as world champions.”

The victory is Al-Rajhi’s first of 2024 and allows him to leapfrog the absent Carlos Sainz for second in the championship. After trailing Al-Attiyah by thirty-three points entering Argentina, the gap is now twenty-five with one round to go.

“Yazeed launched a rocket on the final stretch and gained back the lead. And man, I really had to hold on tight to me seat,” wrote Al-Rajhi’s navigator Timo Gottschalk, who sliced his gap to Boulanger for the co-driver’s championship by more than half from seventy to twenty. “But it was the best in the house: Yazeed was throwing the kitchen sink at it. And maybe even the kitchen itself! It paid off. Could not be any happier!”

Although Moraes and Quintero won stages back to back, neither finished on the podium after a tumultuous rally. Moraes had finished the Prologue without a right-rear wheel before Quintero ended up in a ditch in Stage #1 while trying to avoid spectators too close to the course. Their stage wins put them into the top five, Moraes as high as third, before disaster struck in Stage #4 as dampers broke on both of their Hiluxes. Quintero recovered with a third on the final day but was the last overall finisher in Ultimate.

While slim, Moraes still has a mathematical shot at the title as he trails Al-Attiyah by fifty-three points. However, he will need an exceptional amount of bad luck to strike those in front of him while winning every stage at the season-ending Rallye du Maroc.

“It was a hard, but successful week, which was ultimately decided by one stage,” commented Moraes. “We showed how strong we are across four of the five days, and I’m very proud of what we managed to achieve. We are not just contenders, but future champions.”

The Mini of Sebastián Halpern finished third, meaning each step of the podium consisted of a different manufacturer. Halpern made his return to the W2RC after a dismal 2023 DR 40 that prompted him to skip the Dakar Rally in January, dissatisfied with the Mini’s performance. This time, he rebounded with a best finish of third in Stage #4.

Juan Cruz Yacopini and Marcos Baumgart were the category’s retirements. The former had rolled in both Stages #2 and #3, while Baumgart suffered a mechanical problem on the first leg.

Ultimate overall results

1202Yazeed Al-RajhiTimo GottschalkOverdrive Racing17:38:21Leader
2200Nasser Al-AttiyahÉdouard BoulangerNasser Racing17:39:01+ 0:40
3211Sebastián HalpernBernardo GraueX-raid Mini JCW Team18:24:37+ 46:16
4208Denis KrotovKonstantin ZhiltsovOverdrive Racing18:40:50+ 1:02:29
5203Lucas MoraesArmand MonleónToyota Gazoo Racing18:51:24+ 1:13:03
6207Cristian BaumgartGustavo GugelminX Rally Team19:50:07+ 2:11:46
7206Seth QuinteroDennis ZenzToyota Gazoo Racing20:03:03+ 2:24:42
DNF209Juan Cruz YacopiniDaniel OliverasOverdrive RacingDNFN/A
DNF210Marcos BaumgartKleber CinceaX Rally TeamDNFN/A
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Ultimate stage winners

PrologueNasser Al-Attiyah16:17.8
Stage #1Yazeed Al-Rajhi3:56:00
Stage #2Lucas Moraes4:08:14
Stage #3Seth Quintero3:14:00
Stage #4Nasser Al-Attiyah3:39:15
Stage #5Yazeed Al-Rajhi2:34:40

W2RC Ultimate standings

Unlike Challenger and SSV, Ultimate does not have its own class-specific trophy and instead has a single championship where drivers from all three points-paying categories are eligible.

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

Drivers’ standings

1Nasser Al-Attiyah156Leader
2Yazeed Al-Rajhi131– 25
3Lucas Moraes103– 53
4Carlos Sainz100– 56
5Guerlain Chicherit69– 87
6Guillaume de Mévius65– 91
7Rokas Baciuška60– 96
8Seth Quintero55– 101
9Denis Krotov44– 112
10Martin Prokop36– 120
T-11João Ferreira34– 122
T-11Cristian Baumgart34– 122
13Austin Jones33– 123
14Mathieu Serradori32– 124
15Sebastián Halpern24– 132
16Nicolás Cavigliasso23– 133
17Saood Variawa22– 134
18Juan Cruz Yacopini17– 139
T-19Yasir Seaidan16– 140
T-19Dania Akeel16– 140
21Mattias Ekström15– 141
22Marcos Baumgart14– 142
23Stéphane Peterhansel13– 143
T-24Mitch Guthrie11– 145
T-24Sebastián Guayasamín11– 145
26Marcelo Gastaldi10– 146
T-27Pau Navarro9– 147
T-27Ricardo Ramilo9– 147
T-29Ricardo Porém8– 148
T-29Rebecca Busi8– 148
31Aliyyah Koloc6– 150
32Mário Franco5– 151
T-33Sara Price4– 152
T-33Eugenio Amos4– 152
35Krzysztof Hołowczyc3– 153
36Claude Fournier2– 154
37Lionel Baud1– 155

Co-drivers’ standings

1Édouard Boulanger151Leader
2Timo Gottschalk131– 20
3Armand Monleón103– 48
4Lucas Cruz76– 75
5Xavier Panseri65– 86
6Alex Winocq64– 87
7Dennis Zenz55– 96
8Konstantin Zhiltsov44– 107
9Oriol Vidal43– 108
10Viktor Chytka36– 115
11Filipe Palmeiro34– 117
12Loïc Minaudier32– 119
13Oriol Mena26– 125
14Gustavo Gugelmin25– 126
T-15Alex Haro24– 127
T-15Bernardo Graue24– 127
T-17Mathieu Baumel23– 128
T-17Valentina Pertegarini23– 128
T-17Sébastien Delaunay23– 128
20François Cazalet22– 129
21Daniel Oliveiras17– 134
T-22Alberto Andreotti16– 135
T-22Stéphane Duplé16– 135
24Emil Bergkvist15– 136
25Kleber Kincea14– 137
T-26Kellon Walch11– 140
T-26Michaël Metge11– 140
T-26Fernando Acosta11– 140
29Carlos Sachs10– 141
T-30Andreas Schulz9– 142
T-30Fausto Mota9– 142
T-32Luís Marques8– 143
T-32Sergio Lafuente8– 143
T-34Adrien Metge5– 146
T-34João Serôdio5– 146
T-36Paolo Ceci4– 147
T-36Jeremy Gray4– 147
38Łukasz Kurzeja3– 148
39Serge Gounon2– 149
40Lucie Baud1– 150

Manufacturers’ standings

2Prodrive160– 30
3Mini97– 93
4Audi76– 114
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