On the eve of the finish of the second round of the World Rally-Raid Championship, Dakar bike category winner Sam Sunderland (GasGas Factory Racing) is ideally positioned to hold his overall lead. On four wheels, ‘Chaleco' Lopez, who is still 3rd in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, remains the highest ranked driver in the W2RC. The Dakar T3 winner has even regained the lead over his closest rival Cristina Gutierrez.
Moto RallyGP: Sunderland ideally positioned
The gaps between the bikers on the ADDC are usually as close as the dunes of the Liwa desert. And the inaugural edition of the second round of the W2RC was no exception. This morning, at the start of the penultimate stage, nine factory machines were within ten minutes of each other in the provisional overall classification. Today, Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna Factory Racing) won the stage ahead of Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and the Hondas of Quintanilla and Brabec. Walkner (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Sunderland (GasGas Factory Racing) finished 13th and 15th on the day. In the provisional overall standings, Sam continues to lead the ADDC. Quintanilla is 2nd (at 23'') and Price is 3rd (at 1'42''). Brabec (Monster Energy Honda) is back in 4th place at 2'34". The KTM of the reigning World Champion dropped to 6th place (at 5'09''). Kevin Benavides, 3rd in the provisional standings this morning, finished the stage with the gearbox locked in second. As on the Dakar, he loses any chance of a result on the second round of the W2RC.
Tomorrow morning, for the last special stage, Price, Quintanilla and Brabec will start in 3rd, 4th and 5th position and are within spitting distance of the provisional leader. But Walkner will start 13th and 'Sundersam' 15th - ideally placed to take advantage of the openers’ tracks and pull back time from them. Dakar winner Sam Sunderland, already in the lead, has all the cards in his hand to win tomorrow. On his side, like last January, the reigning World Champion and winner of the ADDC 2021 Matthias Walkner has managed to build a springboard for tomorrow. The finale of the second round of the W2RC promises to be thrilling.
Moto Rally 2: Klein again
Mason Klein (BAS World KTM Racing) won Rally 2 again today, ahead of Paolo Lucci and Romain Dumontier. In the provisional general standings, the American leads the Frenchman from HT Rally Husqvarna Racing by more than twenty-five minutes. The Italian from Solarys Racing is 3rd. All these youngsters are involved in Rally2 W2RC class, the one dedicated to showcase the next generation.
Quad : Abdulaziz is on top
Local rider Ahli Abdulaziz is still unbeaten. Juraj Varga and Rodolfo Guillioli complete the podium of the day and are installed in that order in the provisional general classification.
Drivers' and Co-drivers' World Championship:
Out of contention for victory on the ADDC since their mechanical problems, Al Attiyah, Loeb and Al Rajhi, the three leaders of the provisional World Championship after the Dakar, all have the same objective: to finish as high as possible in the standings of each special stage in order to collect the maximum number of W2RC daily points. Al Attiyah won his third consecutive stage today ahead of Loeb (3'01'') and Al Rajhi (8'04''). Peterhansel finished more than twelve minutes behind the Qatari, ahead of Prokop (Benzina Orlen Team), Halpern (Toyota Overdrive), Przygonski (X-raid Mini JCW) and Serradori (SRT). In the provisional standings of the ADDC, 'Peter' has a half hour lead on the Czech who he has to hold off tomorrow if he wants to take his 7th ADDC victory. Both are here to further develop their cars and are not involved yet in W2RC.
Third in the provisional overall standings, 'Chaleco' (South Racing Can-Am) remains the fastest of the drivers in contention for the W2RC FIA Title (T1 – T2 – T3 – T4). Tomorrow he will have to maintain the lead he increased today over Gutierrez (Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team) and resist the possible comebacks of Marek Goczal in his T4 Can-Am Cobant Energylandia, Przygonski in his buggy and Baciuska in his South Racing Can-Am.
T3: 'Chaleco' gets back on track
Leader of the ADDC this morning with only a minute and a half lead over Cristina Gutierrez, the Dakar winner is now 9'33'' ahead of the reigning world number one. Cristina's teammate Seth Quintero was forced to stop for a while and finished more than an hour behind. Herman Garces Echeverria (South Racing Can-Am) took advantage of this to climb on the podium in T3 like yesterday.
T4: The Goczal brothers neck and neck
The Goczal brothers were once again neck and neck today. Marek finished forty seconds ahead of Michal. Austin Jones and his team-mate Rokas Baciuska (South Racing Can-Am) finished four minutes behind the Polish leader who increased his lead in the provisional general standings over the Lithuanian (22'21''). Michal Goczal is still 3rd, but now only fifteen seconds behind him. The youngest of the Goczal family will try everything tomorrow to climb on the T4 podium behind his brother!
T5: Kees Koolen again
Koolen, De Graaf and Van Uden, the Iveco Project 2030 trio, have had a free hand since yesterday and the withdrawal of Martin Macik, leader of the W2RC provisional. The Dutchmen are heading for victory in the ADDC and should be able to score some big points in the championship!