desert wings

World Rally-Raid Championship contenders in pole position for glory after nail-biting Desafío Ruta 40

The 2024 Desafío Ruta 40 swept a convoy of Dakar Rally contenders through a 3,000-kilometre route lined with spectators this week. After five long stages through the Argentinian provinces of Córdoba, San Juan and La Rioja the dust finally settled to reveal well-earned victories across the categories. There’s not only victories in Argentina to celebrate with wild race fans, but also some significant moves made in the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC). Let’s check in at the finish line of the latest Desafío Ruta 40 to find out who has got their noses in front…

The 2024 Desafío Ruta 40 swept a convoy of Dakar Rally contenders through a 3,000-kilometre route lined with spectators this week. After five long stages through the Argentinian provinces of Córdoba, San Juan and La Rioja the dust finally settled to reveal well-earned victories across the categories. There’s not only victories in Argentina to celebrate with wild race fans, but also some significant moves made in the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC). Let’s check in at the finish line of the latest Desafío Ruta 40 to find out who has got their noses in front…

There was a week-long game of cat-and-mouse at the front of the Ultimate class car race. Nasser Al-Attiyah arrived in Argentina leading the W2RC rankings and looking to win a third consecutive championship. Al-Attiyah and co-driver Édouard Boulanger had their Prodrive Hunter battling with Yazeed Al Rajhi’s Toyota Hilux throughout the rally.

It was Al-Attiyah who won the Prologue Stage, but going into the final day of racing the Qatari was 13 seconds behind his Saudi Arabian rival. Al Rajhi did enough to hold on for the overall win on the fifth and final stage in Argentina, but Al-Attiyah gathered enough points to maintain his W2RC rankings lead with just one rally of the season remaining.

“We finished in second place and that keeps us in a strong position to fight for the championship. 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.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah

It was a race of highs and lows for Lucas Moraes and co-driver Armand Monleón in their Toyota GR DKR Hilux. The duo secured victory on Stage Two but their bid for a podium finish was ended on the penultimate day of the rally when a mechanical issue saw them lose an hour to their rivals. The Toyota Gazoo Racing crew eventually finished this Desafío Ruta 40 in fifth overall and Brazilian driver Moraes is now third in this season’s Ultimate rankings.

“We won one stage and maybe we could have won the final stage as well but we got caught in some dust. The pace is there so we just need to put the entire puzzle together.” – Lucas Moraes

One place behind Moraes in the final Ultimate standings in Argentina came Seth Quintero and co-driver Dennis Zenz. This Toyota Gazoo Racing pair also had their fair share of ups and downs at the rally with their victory on Stage Three a high point of their week in Argentina.

“Unfortunately we had some issues with the car’s dampeners that took us out of fighting for the win. Apart from that issue I’m feeling faster than ever, Dennis is feeling good and the team are doing a great job. With the new chapter of speed we’ve found I’m excited for the next rally in Morocco.” – Seth Quintero

There was a dominant display in the Challenger class from Rokas Baciuška. The 24-year-old Lithuanian driver won three stages plus the prologue on his way to winning his second rally of the season. The result was all the more remarkable as co-driver Sébastien Delaunay stepped in as a last-minute replacement for the injured Oriol Vidal. Baciuška can now wrap up the W2RC Challenger class title in Morocco in October.

“It’s our first time winning this rally and it was a pleasure to race in front of these fans. We’re still missing some points to be world champion and we’ll be back to finish the job in Morocco.” – Rokas Baciuška

Joining Baciuška on the final podium of the Challenger class in Argentina was Saudi Arabian Dania Akeel. The Taurus T3 Max driver recorded Top 3 finishes on three of the five Desafío Ruta 40 stages on her way to her first W2RC podium result. It was a memorable week for Akeel and co-driver Stéphane Dupre as they look to finish the season with a flourish.

“From day one of this rally my psychology was to race to my absolute limit. 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.” – Dania Akeel

There was a return to racing for Daniel Sanders of Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing. The Australian biker took a massive step in his preparations for the 2025 Dakar Rally by completing the Desafío Ruta 40 this week. Sanders finished the bike race in eighth place overall behind a trio of Honda riders that locked out the podium led home by rally winner Ricky Brabec.

“There’s still some areas I need to improve on. I came into this rally fighting fit and didn’t quite get the result I was after. We’ll come out swinging for Morocco.” – Daniel Sanders

Sanders’s GasGas team-mate Sam Sunderland retired from the rally on Stage Three and local favourite Luciano Benavides’s Desafío Ruta 40 ended on Stage One when the Argentinian rider crashed his Husqvarna.

Next up for the World Rally-Raid Championship convoy is the fifth and final stop of the season in Africa. The 2024 Rallye du Maroc is set for October 6-11 and will decide who will finally be crowned this year’s champions.

 

Final Rally Standings

Desafío Ruta 40 – Ultimate Class – Top 3

Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) TOYOTA 17:38:21

N. AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) PRODRIVE +00:40

S. HALPERN (ARG) MINI +46:16

 

Desafío Ruta 40 – Challenger Class – Top 3

R. BACIUSKA (LTU) CAN-AM 18:54:59

N. CAVIGLIASSO (ARG) TAURUS +08:49

D. AKEEL (SAU) TAURUS +21:44

 

Latest Championship Rankings

W2RC – Ultimate Class – Top 3

N. AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) PRODRIVE 156 points

Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) TOYOTA 131

L. MORAES (BRA) TOYOTA 103

 

W2RC – Challenger Class – Top 3

R. BACIUSKA (LTU) CAN-AM 209 points

N. CAVIGLIASSO (ARG) TAURUS 165

M. GASTALDI (BRA) TAURUS 130

 

QUOTES

Nasser Al-Attiyah: “This Desafío Ruta 40 was an amazing race, thanks to everyone who made this such a great rally again this year. We finished in second place and that keeps us in a strong position to fight for the championship. 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.”

Lucas Moraes: “This ended up being a good rally for us as we climbed to third in the championship standings. We won one stage and maybe we could have won the final stage as well but we got caught in some dust. The pace is there so we just need to put the entire puzzle together. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year and racing Rally dos Sertões and Rallye du Maroc.”

Seth Quintero: “This was a good race for us here in Argentina. Unfortunately we had some issues with the car’s dampeners that took us out of fighting for the win. Apart from that issue I’m feeling faster than ever, Dennis is feeling good and the team are doing a great job. With the new chapter of speed we’ve found I’m excited for the next rally in Morocco.”

Rokas Baciuška: “It’s our first time winning this rally and it was a pleasure to race in front of these fans. We’re still missing some points to be world champion and we’ll be back to finish the job in Morocco.”

Dania Akeel: “From day one of this rally my psychology was to race to my absolute limit. 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. Now the aim is to work on further maximising my capacity as a driver.”

Daniel Sanders: “It was an interesting rally here in Argentina. There were a lot of fast gravel tracks and I wasn’t always comfortable on them. Day three was my best day at this rally and there’s still some areas I need to improve on. I came into this rally fighting fit and didn’t quite get the result I was after. We’ll come out swinging for Morocco.”