07 abril 2024

Monster Energy Honda Team rider Tosha Schareina managed to hold his nerve over the closing kilometres to seal a crucial start-to-finish victory in the motorcycle category at the bp Ultimate Rally-Raid Portugal on Sunday.


Schareina needed to defend a lead of 4min 33sec over a short loop of 101km around Grândola and then across a short 3.7km televised sprint finale in front of large numbers of spectators. He started fifth on the road and the third quickest time saw the Spaniard claim a winning margin of 4min 38sec over the second-placed Hero Motorsports Rally Team rider Sebastien Bühler.


The result also sets up a fascinating tussle between Monster Energy Honda and the Hero Motorsports Rally Team for the W2RC Manufacturers’ Championship at the remaining two rounds in Argentina and Morocco.


Schareina said: “It’s very special to win here after a great race. I’m very happy with what I achieved over these five stages and I’m also happy for the team, as a large part of the team is from Portugal.”


Bühler added: “Second place in a World Cup race is very good. After a crash in the Dakar, I think the result is the best way to gain confidence. It was a tough week. I had a four-minute penalty on the first day and, without that, we could have been even closer to fighting for victory. Tosha was very strong, as always, congratulations to him. I think the organisation did a very good job, managing to run the race even after all the rain we had.”


Bruno Santos won the first four stages in Rally2 with the Prologue win falling to Edgar Canet and the Husqvarna rider held his never on the last stage to secure a stunning Rally2 victory and the final step on the overall podium.


Santos added: “A very treacherous day. We raced a lot in the middle of the trees with sandy ground and roots were emerging from the ground. I managed the risk and settled into a calm pace. It was a spectacular race, which exceeded all my expectations. Every day was a different challenge!”


After his stage win on Saturday, Portugal’s António Maio opened the road on the final day and came home with the ninth quickest time to consolidate his fourth place in the overall standings.


Maio said: “I tried not to make any mistakes, just in case. It was a spectacular race, very varied. We covered all types of terrain. Yesterday’s stage in Spain was fabulous, very much in my style and we achieved an historic victory. I’m happy with this fourth place overall and a podium in RallyGP!”


The fastest time on the final morning enabled Adrien van Beveren to pass his Honda team-mate Skyler Howes and finish the event in fifth to complete a superb fight back from the fistful of time penalties he incurred on the opening day. That put the Frenchman third of the registered W2RC riders behind Schareina and Bühler and moved him ahead of the absent Ricky Brabec and into second place in the championship behind Ross Branch. Howes also took a tumble on the stage which didn’t help his cause.


Hero Motorsports Rally Team’s Branch picked up vital championship points in seventh and fifth of the registered riders to keep his title challenge running strongly. A crash hospitalised Sherco’s Lorenzo Santolino after 39km of the final stage and lifted Spaniard Edgar Canet into eighth and confirmed his second place in Rally2, 20min 41sec adrift of Santos.


Bas World KTM Racing Team’s Bradley Cox was third in Rally2 and a close ninth overall after overtaking Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla on the final morning.


Rally2 riders filled the next few places on the leader board with Frenchman Romain Dumontier (Husqvarna) winning the last stage in Rally2 and finishing 11th ahead of the KTM-riding Frenchman Mathieu Doveze.


Gonçalo Amaral claimed a comfortable Rally3 victory on his Honda, the 17th-placed Portuguese rider finishing 9min 51sec clear of his brother Salvador.


Poland’s Kamil Wisniewski stormed to victory in the quad category with a winning margin of 5min 49sec over Lithuania’s Antanas Kanopkinas.


Frenchman Gaetan Martinez was third but Argentina’s long-time leader Manuel Andujar lost his chance of taking victory after mechanical issues and a crash in Spain on Saturday. He was comfortably quickest on the last stage and finished fourth.

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