Rallye

Tosha Schareina Takes Second Stage Win On 2023 Rallye du Maroc’s While Toby Price Takes Outright Lead

Author: Garry Morrow

Posted:

Photo of Tosha Schareina at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Tosha Schareina impressed once again with his second stage win and elevated himself to fifth in the overall.

Tosha Schareina has taken his second stage win of the 2023 Rallye du Maroc to now move into fifth in the outright standings while Toby Price finished runner-up to take over the outright Rally lead.

Price’s second place has seen him close the gap to championship leader Luciano Benavides, who finished sixth and now sits fourth overall. Price needs nine points to overtake Benavides to claim the 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship. Price needs to finish first, and Benavides no better than fourth for the Australian to claim the title.

Jose Ignacio Cornejo rounded out the top three while Matthias Walkner was another top contender to retire following a crash that left the Austrian with a sore hand.

Stage 3 on Monday was a 439 km long exploration of the Moroccan terrains, eastward from the bivouac in Zagora, of which 333 km marked the competitive sections. The participants were entertained through a maze of rough, stony, winding and fast tracks, and some sand and dunes. Though these zones were not new to Maroc Rally, the organizers tried to add more flavour by throwing in some trying twists and complex navigation.

Despite a small problem with his roadbook and having to navigate manually Tosha Schareina continues to be the giant killer claiming his second stage win of the Rally. Having gained twelve minutes in two stages he has catpulted up to fifth in the standings.

Photo of Toby Price at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Toby Price is doing everything he can to gain the 9 points needed to claim the 2023 championship.

Setting off second Toby Price knew he would have to keep the pressure on in order to secure a strong result. Never falling below the top three, the two-time Dakar champion was able to maintain an impressive pace despite only being the second rider through the route.

Finishing just over one minute behind the eventual stage winner, when bonus times for opening the stage were added, Toby placed second overall, three minutes down. With the rally now past its halfway point, in the provisional overall standings Price takes the lead with a near-four-minute advantage and two stages left to race.

“Not a bad day for me today, the 330 kilometers went pretty quick, so the average speed was a lot faster,” Price said. “But for sure, it was really rocky out there. The bike felt really good the whole day and I was able to keep up a good speed. I did make a couple of little navigation mistakes, but on the whole everything went well. The bonus time helps, but of course to get that you have to be out front and opening the stage, which can prove really hard. All in all, I’m happy with how I’m riding, and I know I’m giving it everything, so whether I come first or second at the end, I’ll be happy that I did my best.”

Photo of Jose Ignacio Cornejo at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Jose Ignacio Cornejo had his best finish of third.

Jose Ignacio Cornejo had his best stage finish after being classed third on the stage.

“This was another good stage for me,” Cornejo enthused. “I was riding in the bonus places and tried to use this advantage the best I could. I felt quite comfortable and very safe riding my Honda CRF 450 Rally. So far this is my best performance at the Rallye du Maroc and I feel very happy about it. All stages here are very fast and this matches a lot my style and profile.”

Photo of Pablo Quintanilla at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Pablo Quintanilla had another good stage with fourth and is now third in the overall.

Pablo Quintanilla came just behind his teammate in fourth and moved up to third in the overall standings.

“This was really a fast stage, riding all the time in piste,” Quintanilla said. “I felt quite good, I was riding with a good pace trying to avoid any road-book mistakes. I did a clean navigation, the route was more in line today with fewer changes of direction. That was really fast all the time, so I am happy for being here and for the great preparation for the Dakar Rally.”

Photo of Ross Branch at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Ross Branch had another consistent day finishing fifth which has seen him elevated to second in the overall standings.

Following a challenging morning start, Ross Branch found his rhythm around the halfway point of the race. Although he lost some time, he currently sits in the second overall position, trailing the leader by 3 minutes and 48 seconds. With Stage 4 ahead, tomorrow presents his final chance to recover the lost time and regain the top spot. The Botswanan is determined to deliver an exceptional performance, aiming for a favourable outcome for both himself and his team.

“Today was a mixed bag of emotions,” Branch reflected. “I didn’t get a great start this morning, I wasn’t feeling very comfortable on the bike. About halfway through, I started finding a good flow, but unfortunately lost a bit of time in the first half. Anyway, I’ve got a decent starting position for tomorrow, and it will be my last opportunity to make up for lost time. I will give my best tomorrow, and let’s hope for the best!”

Photo of Luciano Benavides at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Current championship leader Luciano Benavides will be looking to improve on his 4th in the overall to stop Toby Price from overtaking his lead.

Luciano Benavides continued his consistent performance throughout the event, the Argentinian now moves up to fourth overall after finishing stage three in sixth in the standings with two stages left to race. Benavides now trails the leader by just under eight minutes.

“It was a tough stage today – really, really fast with not too much navigation,” Benavides said. “I felt good today, but it wasn’t the best day for me in terms of the results. I didn’t make too many mistakes with the navigation, and I know I gave 100 per cent as always. I’ve moved up to fourth overall now, but it’s really tight in the results and my position means I’ll be starting a little way behind tomorrow, so I have to really push to make up time. We have two stages to go, so I’ll keep on giving my all.”

Tomorrow the bivouac from the Rallye du Maroc will move to the famous dunes of Merzouga. Stage 4, the penultimate of the program, will consist of a 75 km liaison and a 343 km Special Stage. The menu will consist of dirt tracks, gravel tracks, sand and – in the end – dunes.

Photo of Toby Hederics at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc
Toby Price is not the only Aussie, or Toby, in the sand in Morocco. Australian Toby Hederics has steadily moved up the leaderboard over the three days going from 28th on day one to now being placed 22nd overall.

2023 Rallye du Maroc – Stage 3 Provisional Classification
1 Tosha Schareina (Honda) 3:03:35
2 Toby Price (KTM) 3:06:41
3 Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 3:07:21
4 Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 3:10:33
5 Ross Branch (Hero) 3:11:33
6 Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:11:46

2023 Rallye du Maroc – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 3]
1 Toby Price (KTM) 10:26:00
2 Ross Branch (Hero) 10:29:48
3 Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 10:31:09
4 Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 10:33:50
5 Tosha Schareina (Honda) 10:33:54
6 Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 10:36:51

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