KTM’s American rider Kurt Caselli on Saturday won the final stage of the Desafio Ruta 40 Rally in Argentina to clinch the overall victory. His factory teammates Chaleco Lopez of Chile and Marc Coma of Spain finished 2-3 to give KTm a clean sweep of the podium .
After more than 18 hours of competitive riding the winning margin between Caselli and Lopez, who led going into the final leg, was a mere 43 seconds. Caselli is a relatively new recruit to the KTM Factory Rally Team but is a very experienced offroad and Baja competitor for KTM USA. He was drafted in to the Dakar 2013 team when it became clear that title defender Marc Coma was unable to ride because of a lingering injury. His performance this week in what has been at times trying conditions underlined he has the skills and the speed to match the world’s best.
Lopez too was a very strong contender. He won stage five and had the job of opening the track on Saturday for what was a shorter timed special of just over one and a half hours in a loop track in and out of San Juan.
Coma, who lost a bundle of time in Stage Three due to a small technical problem, did well to salvage podium third. He finished 10.53 behind the leader on the overall standings to add valuable points to his world championship bid in 2013.
KTM Factory Team Manager Alex Doringer was thrilled with the outcome, saying: “The team did an amazing job, Marc fought back very hard and I am super pumped about how smart Caselli contested the Rally! With Chaleco on the podium, we see once more that a rally is always decided in the last days and there’s no point in celebrating until our riders are all across the finish line. I’m very happy and we have made a big move toward victory in the World Rally Championship! We again proved who it is that is number one in this sport!
In general it has been a tough outing for competitors with a number of weather-related delays and cancellations of parts of the timed specials and riders also encountered extremely cold conditions in the more than 3000km covered in the six stages.
The rally was not only part of the Dakar Challenge Series but also the fourth leg of the six round-FIM World Cross Countries Championship of which Coma is not only the title holder but has also won the first three rallies. He now has 73 championship points from a possible 120. The other two legs are in the Dos Sertoes in Brazil and the Pharaohs Rally in Egypt
HRC Honda – The 2013 Desafio Ruta 40 drew to close today with the final 136km special stage taking the riders on a circular route starting and ending in San Juan. Team HRC’s Javier Pizzolito – who has ridden consistently well throughout his home rally – remained in control today and crossed the line in fourth, 13m02s behind eventual race winner Kurt Caselli, placing him an impressive fourth in the final results.
With five successful and mistake-free stages under his belt, team-mate Helder Rodrigues was just one second behind rally leader Francisco Lopez going into today’s race. Unfortunately, the Portuguese rider crashed on a fast turn just 12km in. He re-mounted and battled on for a further 8km, but was eventually forced to retire, experiencing a lot of pain and with damage to the instruments on his CRF450 Rally.
Rodrigues was taken by ambulance to hospital with minor injuries, including a hematoma on his hip. Despite the disappointing end to Rodrigues’s race, the Team HRC crew leave Argentina in a positive frame of mind having secured two stage victories and a podium, as well as a much deserved fourth place for Pizzolito, aboard a faultless Honda CRF450 Rally.
Javier Pizzolito #7:
I am sorry for Helder because I think he could have won this rally, but I am pleased to hear that he has no major injuries. I did my best and I am very happy with my race overall. I did not expect to finish in such good position. I also won the rally for the Argentinean championship race, which I am now leading. I’m looking forward to the Morocco rally with the new bike at the end of October.
Helder Rodrigues #3:
I crashed hard after 12km in a fast turn. The front wheel slid and I couldn’t stay on the bike. I tried to start again, but I was in too much pain with my hip and all instruments on the bike were broken due to the crash. I’m really disappointed because I did my best in this race and I proved to be fast and ready to win. The bike was going good for the entire race and the team did a perfect job. I’m now looking forward to the rest of the season, from the Pharaons Rally and onwards.
Speedbrain – Paulo Goncalves aboard his Speedbrain 450 Rally was showing a strong ride after beginning the stage in seventh position. The Portuguese was putting the hammer down right away. Being concentrated and error-free he picked up rivals in front of him to eventually end the stage in third place. Goncalves improved in the overall classification to sixth place, but couldn´t place himself higher due to the time he lost on stage four.
Paulo Goncalves:“I gave all I had today trying to keep the gap to Marc (Coma) in the world championship standings as small as possible. Guess it worked out well. Luckily there was less dust than yesterday. This past week we were able to collect valuable experience with respect to the Dakar. The team has done a splendid job as always, many thanks for that! My Speedbrain 450 Rally worked like clockwork, great.”
Paulo Goncalves´ sixth place in Argentina helped to further extend his lead in the world championship over Jakub Przygonski. He and his team are now preparing the Sertoes Rally in Brazil, the penultimate round of the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship.
Desafio Ruta Stage 6 Results 1, Kurt Caselli, USA, KTM, 1.31.17
2, Francisco Lopez, Chile, KTM, 1.32.35
3, Paulo Goncalves, Portugal, Speedbrain, 1.33.56
4, Javier Pizzolito, Argentina, Honda, 1.38.35
5, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, 1.38.47
6, Pablo Quintanilla, KTM, 1.39.44
7, David Casteu, France, Yamaha, 1.42.03
8, Daniel Gouet, KTM, 1.42.34
9, Juan C. Salvatierra, Speedbrain, 1.46.08
9, Willie van Wessel, Honda, 1.46.08