Schareina, Andujar and Al Attiyah dominated the day
Desafío Ruta 40 YPF, valid for the fourth round of the World Rally Raid Championship (W2RC), had an action-packed day with Stage 1 La Rioja-La Rioja. The caravan faced the first long day of competition, with a 696-kilometre stage, of which 334 kilometres were at full speed. The competition heads for Catamarca tomorrow.
Schareina, Andujar and Al Attiyah dominated the day
As in the Sonora Rally Mexico – the previous W2RC event – Tosha Schareina (Honda Team) dominated the first day of competition and surprised the most experienced riders of the World Championship by winning a stage that was characterized mainly by rally-type roads and also some kilometres on dry rivers.
The Spaniard felt comfortable on the winding stages in La Rioja and managed to beat Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna Factory Racing) by 17 seconds on the stage to take the lead in the Overall, just one second ahead of the Argentinean. In third place, and 1:09 behind, was the winner of the prologue, Adrien Van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda Team); while the leader of the championship, Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was fourth, 3:17 behind the leader.
In Quads the winner was Manuel Andujar (Yamaha), with runner-up Facundo Viel (Yamaha) and the Brazilian driver Marcelo Medeiros (Yamaha) in third place.
In cars, Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) was the fastest in the category, even though the Qatari revealed at the end of the stage that he felt uneasy with the car’s behaviour in the rivers. 8 seconds behind him was Yazeed Al Rajhi (Overdrive Racing) and then Argentina’s Sebastian Halpern (X-raid Mini JCW).
In T3 the winner was Mitchell Guhtrie (Red Bull Off Road Junior Team USA), while in T4 the victory was for Eduardo Pons Sune (South Racing Can Am).
Tosha Schareina (Honda Team – motos): “Super happy to be here in Argentina. It’s my first time in DR40 and nothing better than starting here with a victory. It was a very fast stage with very slippery parts with the first 50 kilometres of dry rivers but I am very happy with this result. We all started with a lot of enthusiasm, but you never imagine to start so well. Tomorrow we have a difficult mission which is to open the track, but we will try again. It will be more open desert, I will have to concentrate on navigation, which will be important. Luciano (Benavides) is very strong here at home, he is very motivated by the people. I’m happy for him. We also feel the atmosphere and all the support from the public. The warmth of the people makes you overcome any obstacle.”
Manuel Andujar (quads): A very nice day in La Rioja, luckily we raced the first stage and we could take the victory, but that’s a small step in a big race to come, so now we are going to celebrate for a few seconds and then start working for tomorrow. The tracks are incredible. For me this race is magic, the places where we were today are incredible, the road map is perfect, so that makes a rider enjoy the races even more.
Yazeed Al Rajhi (Overdrive Racing – autos): “It was a good day. Me and Timo did a great job and also the team. Everything is going well. 50km before the finish we had a puncture and we lost 50 sec. We think for tomorrow it is good to be second, with 58 seconds we’ll push tomorrow. We enjoy the battle with Nasser. We came for that. I´m very happy to come to this race and we are ready for it.”
W2RC: The headliners will be there
Among the World Championship riders, young Tosha Schareina, recruited during the season and competing alongside the official HRC structure, is not involved in the W2RC season. Among the bikers competing for the duration of the championship, Luciano Benavides leads the standings on the DR40, ahead of Monster Energy Honda riders Quintanilla and Van Beveren and world championship leader Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). Tonight, the top three drivers in the overall W2RC standings – Price (62 points), Benavides (55 points) and VBA (53 points) – are in the DR40 Top 5 after the first stage, well placed to fight for victory.
In the car category, Nasser Al Attiyah (136 points) knows his designated championship rival. It’s Yazeed Al Rajhi (106 points). By winning the day, the Qatari got off to a good start on the DR40, but the gap between the two men was close and without stopping to repair a puncture, the Saudi proved today that he could hold his own against the reigning world champion. Only one minute and six seconds separate the number one and number two in the overall W2RC standings. Sebastian Halpern (X-raid Mini JCW) is keeping up the pace, just 4’19» behind Al Attiyah. If he keeps in touch with the two Hilux’s, he should be on the overall podium at the end of the DR40.
Those who come to make dreams come true at the Desafío Ruta 40 YPF: Carlos Lliebre and Juan María Nimo
Within this enormous race, there are many stories of its own. One of those special stories is that of Spanish rider Carlos Llibre who arrives at the Desafío Ruta 40 YPF with the dream of finishing the race, as the only condition to qualify for Dakar 2024. «The All1 project is a project of 7 riders who all qualified for Dakar, except for me. I fell down in Morocco and couldn’t finish. The Dakar organisers are asking me to finish a race to be able to enter 2024 Dakar and fulfil the dream of my late brother. I chose that Rally to be Argentina and the Desafío Ruta 40 because of my passion for this country», the rider of the Gas Gas RX 450 Replica of the Xraids Experience team said.
All1 is a project that was born after the death of Carlos’ twin brother in a motorbike accident in Madrid, and after that, he inherited a bucket list to be fulfilled one of which was to participate in a Dakar as objective number 1.
Another rider who comes to this race with a challenge of his own is Juan María Nimo, whose special objective for some years now has been to compete in this Desafío Ruta 40 YPF. In 2006 he suffered a spinal cord injury and is wheelchair-bound, so he had to modify his motorbike, a Honda Tornado 250, in order to be able to compete.
«It is very difficult to accompany a person with a disability and it is not easy to transcend to professionalism. We are trying to get out of the pitiful image, because what we do is something very professional. It is one of the most difficult races in the world, that’s why I run with two «backpacks», two people who accompany me in case I have to solve any issue,» said Gato (Cat), as he is nicknamed.
Tomorrow is a day of navigation, speed and a lot of difficulties
After Monday’s rally-like roads, it’s time to adjust the navigation, but without easing off the throttle. Stage 2 La Rioja-Belen (340km of special stage) will be significantly shorter than the first stage, but with much more complexity both in terms of finding the right course and taking care of the vehicles to avoid the surprises that the road has in store.
The special stage starts with a road that quickly enters a very fast salt flat (chott), but with many trails that can be confusing, especially for those who open the track. Then the competitors will find the first dunes, low and with vegetation, to finally go through a very broken track and finish -already in the second section- along the famous dry rivers of Belén.
Spectators Zones – Stage 2
Those fans who want to enjoy the race from the ground will be able to do so from the Spectator Zones. These maps can be downloaded from www.desafioruta40.ar/zona-espectadores/
Fans will also have the chance to visit the Belen’s bivouac located at Centro Recreativo FAMAYFIL (Av. Virgen de Belén and Pacífico Arques, Belén), in the province of Catamarca.