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World Championship leaders take the win at BP Ultimate Rally Raid Portugal

The BP Ultimate Rally Raid Portugal made a splash with its debut edition on the world championship calendar. Away from the dunes of the Dakar Rally, it was narrow tracks and muddy conditions that characterised the third stop of the 2024 World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC). The championship rankings were shaken up on the convoy’s trip to the Iberian Peninsula so let’s dig into the timesheets to see who came out on top…
A dominant drive by five-time Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah has put the Qatari on top of the Ultimate class driver standings following Round 3 of the championship in Portugal. Al-Attiyah may have suffered an early retirement at this year’s Dakar, but he has now struck back with wins at the last two W2RC stops. Al-Attiyah and co-driver Édouard Boulanger were in perfect harmony in their Prodrive Hunter all week, leading from day two onwards.
“This was a very tricky rally and we had to be clever. Thank you to my co-driver Édouard and to Prodrive for the car. Now we have won two races and we’re leading the championship.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
There was a return to the overall podium for Brazilian driver Lucas Moraes who took third place behind Yazeed Al Rajhi in second and Al-Attiyah in first. A stage win on the last day, including a blistering run through the final sprint section, helped Moraes to secured his spot on the podium. The championship points amassed by the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver alongside co-driver Armand Monleon puts the Brazilian fourth in the Ultimate rankings with two stops of the season remaining.
“We won a World Championship stage and finished third overall! Thank you to the thousands of rally fans who came out for the special stages, you were awesome!” – Lucas Moraes
2024 Dakar Rally winner Carlos Sainz raced in Portugal (and the single stage that took place in Spain) behind the wheel of a MINI. The Spaniard eventually finished fourth alongside co-driver Alex Haro, just 6m12s behind Al-Attiyah. Despite not racing Round 2 in Abu Dhabi, Sainz has 100 championship points and sits second in the Ultimate class driver standings.
“I’m happy I came here and made this race. I now understand what this rally is all about and it was a good experience.” – Carlos Sainz
21-year-old Seth Quintero suffered engine belt issues due to watersplashing during the rally, but still managed to show real speed when he and co-driver Dennis Zenz finished second on Stage 4. Quintero’s performance alongside team-mate Moraes has put Toyota Gazoo Racing top of the FIA manufacturers’ championship with 143 points.
“I’ve never driven on roads like these and it was a lot of fun. The fans have been unreal, I could come back here every weekend and race. It wasn’t the result we were looking for, but we showed a lot of pace.” – Seth Quintero
It was a tough week for 2024 Dakar Rally runner-up Guillaume de Mevius who had his race impacted by various issues affecting his Toyota Hilux Overdrive. De Mevius and co-driver Xavier Panseri are determined to come out swinging for Round 4 in June.
“We only had one stage without problems. It’s been a disappointing rally for us but we will do all we can to come back stronger for the next event in Argentina.” – Guillaume de Mevius
The Challenger class of the BP Ultimate Rally Raid Portugal crowned Rokas Baciuška as its champion. The Lithuanian driver leads the W2RC driver rankings in his category as victory in Portugal comes off the back of runner-up results at the Dakar and in Abu Dhabi. Baciuška and co-driver Oriol Vidal grabbed a stage win on day three on their way to victory.
“The rally was kind of different to the others in the world championship. The stages were very technical so they gave us a different kind of challenge.” – Rokas Baciuška
Baciuška’s Can-Am team-mate Austin ‘AJ’ Jones admitted that he struggled with the wet conditions this week. The driver from Arizona maintains second in the W2RC rankings after finishing in sixth place in Portugal alongside co-driver Oriol Mena.
“We didn’t have the race that we wanted, it was tough to adjust to the wet conditions. Overall, it was a hard rally but I still had a lot of fun.” – Austin ‘AJ’ Jones
We saw fireworks from Sébastien Loeb as he drove a Taurus T3 Max in the Challenger class in Portugal. There were two stage wins alongside co-driver Fabian Lurquin where Loeb put his Challenger machine among the fastest cars in the Ultimate class. However, the Frenchman’s bid to win the rally was dampened when he suffered engine trouble on Stage 3.
“It was an interesting rally with some very nice stages. There were some big watersplashes and we were completely wet all of the days, except on the final stage. It was fun to drive the Taurus T3 Max, another experience and we learned about the terrain here.” – Sébastien Loeb
Saudi Arabian driver Dania Akeel picked up more championship points at Round 3 and she now sits joint-sixth in the W2RC Challenger rankings. Akeel and co-driver Stephane Duple will be out to crack the Top 5 of the championship when they race their Taurus T3 Max in Argentina.
“The kilometres were a really good experience and we had some very interesting issues along the way. The team found a fish in our car one time when we came back from the stage, that was something I had never experienced before.” – Dania Akeel
The BP Ultimate Rally Raid Portugal came to a premature end for 2024 Dakar Rally Challenger class winner Cristina Gutiérrez. A dramatic incident saw the Taurus T3 Max of Gutiérrez and co-driver Pablo Moreno leave the race track and land in a ditch. Both Gutiérrez and Moreno were lucky to escape unharmed.
The World Rally-Raid Championship convoy are back in action in early June when the Desafío Ruta 40 takes them to Argentina for the penultimate round of the series. With this year’s titles still far from decided expect to see a fierce push from the competitors on terrain that was made famous by the Dakar’s 11-year stint in South America.
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