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Podium in the Sierras Pampeanas – Al-Rajhi/Gottschalk finish Desafío Ruta 40 in third place overall

1. September 2023

Further contributions

  • Third joint W2RC appearance, third podium: Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk keep the W2RC battle open until the final with third place in Argentina
  • Duo collects plenty of points, but top performance remains unrewarded overall due to tire damage
  • Extremely tough rally, including the notorious Fiambala terrain: dunes, scree, gravel and lots of rough terrain

Salta, Argentina (September 1, 2023) – Podium: yes, dream result: no – Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk finished the Desafío Ruta 40 in third place. Although the Saudi-Arabian-Brandenburg duo scored plenty of points in the battle for the FIA Rally-Raid World Championship (W2RC) and thus achieved the minimum goal of securing a showdown at the finale in Morocco, it would have been enough for more. What was missing: the luck of the brave. On the first day, the first puncture shortly before the finish line prevented the team from winning the stage, and on the following stage four punctures with only two spares meant a serious loss of time. From then on, it was no longer about the battle for overall victory with the W2RC leaders Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA, Toyota), who won the rally in the end, but about second place. On the final day, Al-Rajhi/Gottschalk made up considerable time on the duo ahead of them, Juan Cruz Yacopini/Dani Oliveras (ARG/ESP), right at the start, but then slid down a ditch while flying blind in their own dust. Remarkably, their direct opponent for second place, local hero Yacopini, helped to free the Toyota Hilux – demonstrating true sportsmanship and team spirit. Overall, Al-Rajhi/Gottschalk only grabbed the 20 points for third place, four additional points for three second places and another for a fifth place on the stages.

World Cup showdown, but only with a slide rule

After the fourth of five W2RC rounds, Yazeed Al-Rajhi has 139 points on his WRC account, Nasser Al-Attiyah 189. The 50-point deficit can still be made up at the grand finale in Morocco (October 12-18). 55 points are then still to be awarded. However, Nasser Al-Attiyah is allowed to take a maximum of four points in case Yazeed Al-Rajhi scores big.

Tough terrain, “Dakar” memories come back to life

The Desafío Ruta 40 turned out to be the expected tough opponent during the five days of the rally in northwest Argentina: in addition to fast tracks through Rio, the agenda also included rough terrain without any trails – an endurance test for man and material. The icing on the cake was the area around Fiambala, which had already provided long-lasting stories during the “Dakars” in the same region. Soft sand, soft dunes and many canyons characterized the picture on this stage.


“We achieved our minimum target and kept the W2RC title fight open until the end. However, we would have liked to have made up points on Nasser Al-Attiyah instead of conceding. So it will be an all-or-nothing final.”


“The Desafío Ruta 40, especially the area around Fiambala, brings back memories of the Dakar Rally when it was still held in South America. Really difficult terrain with soft sand and soft dunes. All in all, the pace was right for us, we just lacked a bit of luck to get more out of it. Now we want to really attack again in Morocco and see what we can do for Yazeed in the fight for the world championship.”


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