2024 BP Ultimate Rally-Raid: Penalties wipe out Stage 1 bike podium

Bradley Cox was about to become one of the very rare instances of a Rally2 rider topping the bike overall when he set the fastest time in Wednesday’s opening stage of the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid. This was dashed when he received a twenty-minute penalty for leaving the neutralisation zone between the stage’s two Selective Sections too early.

The error dropped him to twenty-sixth among bikes and fifteenth in Rally2. He was not the only victim as eleven other riders made the same mistake including Adrien Van Beveren and Edgar Canet, who respectively finished second and fourth overall before penalties dropped them to fourteenth and sixteenth.

“I made an error leaving a transfer zone early and got smacked with a 20 min penalty,” wrote Cox. “Now all I can do [is] put my head down and try get some solid stages under my belt.”

Had the win stuck, Cox would have been the second Rally2 competitor to win a bike stage outright under World Rally-Raid Championship sanction after Michael Docherty won Stage #1 at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in February. Ironically, Docherty had also lost the overall stage victory in Stage #4 of the 2023 Desafío Ruta 40 though that was due to the stage’s starters—who raced in RallyGP—getting bonuses rather than self-inflicted wounds.

Others who left the transfer too soon and were docked time included Rally2’s Dwain Barnard, Paul Costes, Jorge Escobedo, Sergio Fernandez, and Adriá Pascuet; Rally3’s Rafic Eid, Francisco España, and John Medina; and Quad’s Alberto Prieto Ruiz.

The wave of penalties promoted Prologue leader Tosha Schareina from third to first overall ahead of Lorenzo Santolino while Bruno Santos won in Rally2.

Schareina and Van Beveren’s Monster Energy Honda Rally Team ally Pablo Quintanilla crashed eighty kilometres in but was “able to continue without any problems” and finished fifth.

“It took me a while to find my rhythm because there was a lot of water and it was difficult to understand the terrain, so we had to be a bit more careful,” said Quintanilla.

With the exception of those like Carlos Sainz and Manuel Andújar, bad luck plagued various champions of January’s Dakar Rally. Challenger’s Cristina Gutiérrez retired with a mechanical issue after sixty-four kilometres. Rally2 winner Harith Noah crashed at KM 83 and his bike “got completely twisted up”, but he avoided injury and will continue the race. Sainz, back in a Mini, finished fifth to edge out Prologue winner Nasser Al-Attiyah for the position by just two seconds. Chicherit’s team-mate Guillaume de Mévius, the Dakar runner-up, broke a driveshaft at the third kilometre and lost ten minutes, dropping him to twenty-fifth.

Al-Attiyah’s former navigator Mathieu Baumel, who parted ways with him after Dakar, topped the stage calling the shots for Guerlain Chicherit. Behind Chicherit and second-placed Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Lucas Moraes and Vaidotas Žala set identical stage times for third though Moraes officially held the edge for a Toyota top three sweep. The Hilux of Seth Quintero was forced to bow out with vehicle problems.

Local drivers ruled the day for Challenger and SSV again with João Dias and Alexandre Pinto scoring a 1–2 finish in the former while João Monteiro led the way in the latter. Iberians swept the SSV podium as Spain’s Ricardo Ramilo, whose co-driver Fausto Mota is Portuguese, and Ruben Jorge Rodrigues followed.

Andújar won the stage for Quads in what he called a “somewhat bittersweet” feeling as it comes days after confirmation that his class would no longer race at Dakar in 2025 due to a lack of manufacturer support.

“It was a crucial stepping stone category during the South American stages, reaching over fifty participants when the few motorcycles couldn’t fill the starting grid,” said Andújar. “I believe that if it had to end, it should have been done differently or at least with respect. They slowly killed the category by imposing silly requirements to be part of it, to the point of only allowing ten Quads when there were more than thirty registering in 2024. Riders who started racing were required to participate in several world races to earn points and compete in Dakar 2025. They raised the budget, set off on the adventure, owed money to people, sponsors, and then were CHEATED by removing the category overnight when the project was already underway.

“I started racing this event at the age of 20, a race that taught me many values as a person and a racer including discipline, honour, resilience, true friendship, teamwork, and nuch more. This race affected me so much that I even tattooed it on my skin. I never imagined that MONEY and the WHIMS of one person could outweigh these learned values. Hopefully, the FIM will take action on the matter and take responsibility for the dreams of the kids to participate in Dakar, and ASO can reverse this situation.”

Fellow Quad rider Juraj Varga was forced to retire after an electrical failure struck during the first Selective Section. CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team‘s Antanas Kanopkinas and Gaëtan Martinez both missed a turn and went through a ditch, which the latter remarked was “an interesting ride.”

Stage #1 winners

Class Number Competitor Team Time
Ultimate 202 Guerlain Chicherit Overdrive Racing 1:13:54
Challenger 311 João Dias* Santag Racing 1:15:25
SSV 405 João Monteiro* South Racing Can-Am 1:20:00
Stock 500 Carlos Jorge Mendes* Carlos Jorge Mendes 2:14:14
RallyGP 68 Tosha Schareina Monster Energy Honda Rally Team 1:12:15
Rally2 40 Bruno Santos* Bruno Santos 1:19:55
Rally3 50 Gonçalo Amaral* Gonçalo Amaral 1:26:15
Quad 174 Manuel Andújar 7240 Team 1:31:49
Open 700 Johan Senders* Johan Senders 1:32:26
National 706 Bernardo Sousa* Benimoto Racing 1:18:25

Leaders after Stage #1

Class Number Competitor Team Time
Ultimate 202 Guerlain Chicherit Overdrive Racing 1:13:54
Challenger 311 João Dias* Santag Racing 1:15:25
SSV 405 João Monteiro* South Racing Can-Am 1:20:00
Stock 500 Carlos Jorge Mendes* Carlos Jorge Mendes 2:14:14
RallyGP 68 Tosha Schareina Monster Energy Honda Rally Team 1:15:44
Rally2 40 Bruno Santos* Bruno Santos 1:23:35
Rally3 50 Gonçalo Amaral* Gonçalo Amaral 1:29:56
Quad 174 Manuel Andújar 7240 Team 1:35:34
Open 700 Johan Senders* Johan Senders 1:32:26
National 706 Bernardo Sousa* Benimoto Racing 1:18:25

Go to Source
Author: Justin Nguyen

You May Also Like