Rallye

Tosha Schareina Leads 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 Rally After Stage 1

Author: Garry Morrow

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Photo Tosha Schareina of Luciano Benavides on stage one of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina
Spaniard Tosha Schareina beat out many big names of the Rally world to win stage one. Photo: Paco Foto Agencia

Tosha Schareina is the leader of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 Rally after an intense first stage with fellow Spaniard Luciano Benavides just 17 seconds behind, while Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren claimed third place.

The Desafio Ruta 40 YPF, part of the World Rally Raid Championship (W2RC), roared to life in Argentina, with riders bracing for a challenging day ahead. The event’s fourth stop kicked off with a 333 km Special Stage, mainly consisting of tough gravel terrain.

For the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40’s initial stage, the riders were up and at it early from the La Rioja bivouac, setting out for a long day of racing. The gruelling route covered nearly 700 kilometres, including the 333-kilometer timed special. While navigation wasn’t as demanding, the rough gravel tracks put their endurance and concentration to the ultimate test.

Tosha Schareina emerged as the stage winner, securing a 17-second lead over Luciano Benavides and 1’33’’ over Prologue winner Adrien Van Beveren.

Ecstatic about his victory, Schareina stated, “Super happy to be here in Argentina. It’s my first time in DR40 and nothing better than starting here with a victory. It was a very fast stage with very slippery parts with the first 50 kilometres of dry rivers but I am very happy with this result. We all started with a lot of enthusiasm, but you never imagine to start so well. Tomorrow we have a difficult mission which is to open the track, but we will try again. It will be more open desert, I will have to concentrate on navigation, which will be important. Luciano (Benavides) is very strong here at home, he is very motivated by the people. I’m happy for him. We also feel the atmosphere and all the support from the public. The warmth of the people makes you overcome any obstacle.”

Photo Rally Rider of Luciano Benavides on stage one of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina
Argentinian Luciano Benavides impressed on home soil with the second fast time: Photo: Cin Cin Movies

In front of his home crowd, Luciano Benavides secured the second spot, finishing the timed special just 17 seconds behind the leader, maintaining a strong second position for the overall event standings.

Benavides, who had secured second place in the rally’s short opening prologue, continued his momentum into stage one, placing as the runner-up after more than three hours of intense racing. In the overall ranking, he trails the event leader by just one second.

“It’s been a really long stage actually,” Benavides said soon after crossing the finish line, “At the beginning, we started out through some riverbeds and then after that there was a lot of pistes, so it was very fast and very slippery. We destroyed the tyres today and thankfully it didn’t cost me as much time as some other riders. There wasn’t too much navigation today, so I just kept my head down and stayed safe. It all went well, I got second place, and now I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Photo Rally Rider of Adrien Van Beveren on stage one of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina
Prologue winner Adrien Van Beveren was third fastest.

Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren secured the third position, finishing just a minute and a half behind Schareina. Despite encountering a minor issue with his bib mousse, which forced him to ease his pace in the last 20km, the Frenchman managed a smooth ride.

“Stage 1 was a good day for me,” Van Beveren said. “a little bit difficult to warm up in the beginning in the river beds with shadows and the sun but it was the same for everybody. I enjoyed the tracks, it was fast but then unfortunately I had an issue with my bib mousse and I had to slow down in the last 20 km. Luckily I could make it until the end and that was on the limit.”

Photo Toby Price of Luciano Benavides on stage one of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina
FIM World Rally-Raid Championship leader Toby Price finished in a good position of fourth. Photo: Paco Foto Agencia

Dual Dakar winner Toby Price made a strong start, posting the fourth-fastest time on stage one of the event. Starting in sixth place in the short opening prologue, Price’s solid pace was maintained on the stage, marking him as the seventh rider to enter the special. As the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship leader, Price aims to catch up to the riders ahead and secure an advantageous start position for tomorrow’s stage.

“Stage one complete at the Desafio Ruta 40. I had a good feeling with the bike all day today, the only problem was the fact that most of the stage was raced on really fast, rocky tracks,” Price explained of the conditions, “With the Baja tire, it was all about managing that all day really. With around 80 kilometres to go, I could feel the mousse was getting soft, so I really had to back off and that cost me some time. It seems a few guys had some issues so it’s not ideal. Other than that, I’m happy with the day and there’s plenty more riding to go yet.”

Completing the top five, South African Ross Branch followed closely, just under three and a half minutes behind the leader.

“Stage 1 was quite a nice stage, a typical WRC-style race, with lots of slippery turns and fast tracks,” Branch said. “I enjoyed it well, and am happy with my performance. I’m in a good starting position for tomorrow, and I understand navigation is going to be more difficult in Stage 2. I’m excited to see what unfolds!”

The race continues, heading towards Belén with a liaison of 197 km and a Special Stage covering 265 km. The upcoming stage will encompass a mix of terrains, ranging from gravel tracks to more challenging areas like chott, fesh-fesh, dunes, and sand.

Photo Tosha Schareina of Ross Branch on stage one of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina
Ross Branch was fifth fastest and admitted to enjoying the opening stage.

Provisional Results – 2023 Desafio Ruta 40, Stage 1
1 Tosha Schareina (ESP), Honda, 3:00:12
2 Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 3:00:29 +0:17
3 Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 3:01:45 +1:33
4 Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:03:29 +3:17
5 Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 3:03:38 +3:26

Provisional Standings – 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 (after 1 of 5 stages)
1 Tosha Schareina (ESP), Honda, 3:55:00
2 Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 3:55:01 +0:01
3 Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 3:56:09 +1:09
4 Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:58:17 +3:17
5 Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 3:59:06 +4:06

Note: Full results can be found here:

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