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Tosha Schereina Keeps Winning Streak Alive at 2023 Desafio Ruta 40

Author: Garry Morrow

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Photo Tosha Schareina of Luciano Benavides on stage two of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina
Spanish rider Tosha Schereina maintained his winning streak with back-to-back stage victories, Schereina showcased his prowess, extending his lead in the Overall standings. Photo: Rally Zone

Building on his victorious start, Spanish rider Tosha Schereina continued to showcase his dominance in the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 Rally in Argentina.

Even as the frontrunner on the second stage, Schereina adeptly held onto his lead, reaffirming his command over the Overall standings. His impressive performance widened the gap to 2 minutes and 22 seconds ahead of Luciano Benavides. Despite the hurdles, Benavides managed to retain his second-place standing, while Toby Price, the 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid leader, faced his own bike-related challenges during the stage with a broken shocker.

Following the marathon of day one, day two of Desafio Ruta 40 covered a relatively shorter 460 kilometers. The timed special commenced in an expanse of dry salt lakes, transitioning through rocky tracks, riverbeds, and stretches of sand and dunes. Stage two presented more demanding navigation compared to the prior day.

Photo Rally Rider of Luciano Benavides on stage two of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina
Luciano Benavides maintained a strong pace across challenging terrain, securing second place. He remains a strong contender, trailing the leader by under five minutes, as three tough stages await. Photo: Cin Cin Movies

Although Luciano Benavides faced the disadvantage of being among the first to tackle the special, he maintained a forceful pace across the desert terrain. His consistent speed, combined with time bonuses for the top three riders, ensured his lead in both the stage and the overall standings. Wrapping up the day in second place, Luciano now trails the provisional leader by less than five minutes with three challenging stages remaining.

Reflecting on his performance, Benavides commented, “It was another long day and I’m feeling quite tired, but I’m really happy with my position today. It was a nice stage with a mix of terrains like open desert and fast, more technical sections. I rode alone all day, and while I wasn’t able to catch the leader, I was able to stay ahead of the riders behind and clock up a good time bonus. I’m feeling strong on the bike and looking forward to stage three.”

Photo Rally Rider of Ricky Brabec on stage two of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina
Ricky Brabec secured third on stage and moved up to fifth in the overall standings. Photo: Rally Zone

Dakar winner Ricky Brabec secured third place in the 265 km Special Stage between La Rioja and Belén, trailing Tosha Schereina by 7 minutes and 39 seconds. This result boosted Brabec to fifth in the Overall standings.

Sharing his thoughts, Brabec said, “Stage two was good, so with three days left we will see what we can do. After this third place, I will be risking everything I have. I know I’m just further off the overall classification now, so I’m not quite sure what to do at this point. One thing is sure, the next few days we will be just riding around.”

Photo Rally Rider of Ross Branch on stage two of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina
A solid performance left Ross Branch just 3 minutes from the podium with fourth place and fourth in the standings.

Ross Branch secured fourth place. Branch found the day challenging, as he had not ridden through fesh fesh in quite a long time. The Botswanan hero still enjoyed a great time and his commendable performance left him just 3 minutes from the podium and fourth in the standings.

“Stage 2 was amazing! It had a little bit of everything – the morning we could just flat out without much navigation, and then came the fesh-fesh. I haven’t ridden in fesh-fesh for a long time, and so it was quite interesting. We then had some nice dunes and sand sections after refueling. My bike has been performing incredibly well, and I’m really happy at the moment. And I hope to continue the good momentum.”

Ignacio Cornejo followed Branch home in fifth and his improved position which places him seventh in the standings.

Cornejo explained, “This was a good stage for me, I was feeling really competitive, very comfortable with the bike. Then in the last part of the stage, I had to slow a little bit because of the rear of the bike. Safety always comes first so I had to make sure I reached the end of the special section. The outcome was not bad, so I’m determined to continue to fight and do my best.”

Adrien Van Beveren finished sixth, admitting it was a tough day to find his rhythm. Despite the challenges, the Frenchman maintained his third position in the standings.

Van Beveren shared, “This was a hard day, I tried to save the tires at the beginning. The rhythm was not high for that reason, then Luckily there was sand and I continued to push. I made a mistake, confused a note from the road-book and went really bad for five or six kilometers. Then I came back and pushed on the dunes. Overall it is not so bad, I have a good position to push tomorrow. ”

Photo Rally Rider of Toby Price on stage two of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina
It was a horror day for 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship leader Toby Price with a broken shop seeing the Australian plummet down the order and put the title lead in doubt. Photo: Rally Zone

Toby Price embarked on a mission to catch up with the riders ahead. Making solid progress through the initial 135 kilometers, the Australian claimed fourth place by the time of refueling.

However, misfortune struck soon after the stop when Price’s rear shock suffered damage, forcing him to halt. Help arrived in the form of teammate Matthias Walkner, who lent his assistance to get Price back on track. While Price crossed the finish line provisionally in 18th place, the teamwork ensured his continued participation in the race and pursuit of the 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid title. With his sights set on the remaining three stages, Price aims to secure a steady, respectable finish.

“Day started well till just after refuelling at 157km and a rear shock broke on me. I almost had a big one on a fast road with many sharp jumps. Hard pill to swallow and 99% certain the hope of a world championship is gone but I’ll keep 1% and try till the end,” A dejected Price lamented. “Many things I would like to say but that will have to wait for another day. One thing I do want to say is a massive big thank you to Matthias Walkner for passing on his shock so I can continue but Ruta 40 won this one.”

Tomorrow’s stage will retrace the circuit with both start and finish in Belén. The route covers 197 km of liaison and 265 km of Special Stage, promising a mix of gravel, sand tracks, and dunes once again.

Photo Rally Rider of Toby Price on stage two of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina. Broken Shock
The aftermath of a shocker change in the desert for Toby Price. Photo: Toby Price FB

2023 Desafio Ruta 40 – Stage 2 Provisional Classification
1 Tosha Schareina (Honda) 3:27:40
2 Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:32:22
3 Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:35:19
4 Ross Branch (Hero) 3:38:12
5 Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 3:39:06
6 Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 3:39:51
18 Toby Price (KTM), 4:36:10 +1:08:30

2023 Desafio Ruta 40 – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 2]
1 Tosha Schareina (Honda) 7:22:40
2 Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 7:27:23
3 Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 7:36:00
4 Ross Branch (Hero) 7:37:18
5 Ricky Brabec (Honda) 7:42:51
6 Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 7:43:15
15 Toby Price (KTM) 8:34:27 +1:11:47

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