- The Dakar, the opening round of the W2RC, has come to an end after 12 stages in which the drivers, riders and crews fought to get their hands on the famous Bedouin trophy, as well as earning the first points towards a ranking that will continue to take shape in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in March, followed by the Kazakhstan Rally in April, the Andalucía Rally in June and, finally, the Rallye du Maroc in October.
- Nasser Al-Attiyah leads the car ranking. Together with the points gained by his Overdrive teammate Yazeed Al-Rajhi, his performance propelled Toyota Gazoo Racing to the summit of the provisional constructor standings. In the T3 category, "Chaleco" López could not have asked for a more auspicious start to his adventure in a lightweight prototype. In the T4 category, Austin Jones leads after the first round. In the T5 category, Martin Macík and his yellow truck left the competition fighting for scraps. In the motorbike category, Sunderland sits at the top of the rider ranking, but Honda dominates the constructor classification for now.
- It comes as no surprise to see the overall winners top the standings, but their advantage is nowhere near insurmountable, setting the stage for a series packed with varied landscapes and dramatic turnarounds throughout the 2022 season.
- Behind the main contenders, the design of the Championship makes sure that the drivers and riders who race for teams that contribute to the depth and diversity of the international field are also in the mix: the Century buggies, with Serradori, have already stepped into the fray, as have the Sherco and Hero motorbikes, and they are all ready to pounce on every opportunity to make life difficult for the heavy hitters.
CARS: LOEB AND AL-ATTIYAH NECK AND NECK
10 different drivers have been awarded points after the various stages of the Dakar. 16 finishers have also earned points for their positions in the final standings of the first round of the championship. Five top Dakar competitors have landed a monster haul. Al-Attiyah and Loeb are virtually tied. Nasser got a substantial boost from the 50 points that come with his victory in Jeddah, but Sébastien made up most of the difference with several places of honour in stages. Toyota Gazoo Racing's Qatari driver has 85 points, one more than BRX's Frenchman. Yazeed Al-Rajhi and his Toyota Overdrive (51 points) lie ahead of Jakub Przygoński and his Mini X-raid (36 pts), with Mathieu Serradori and his Century SRT in fifth place (33 points).
Sebastián Halpern picked up almost no points during the race, but his solid position in the final standings of the Dakar earned him 15 points as the sixth best W2RC entrant, which puts him behind Álvarez and Ten Brinke in the provisional ranking, with 19 points, just ahead of "Nani" Roma. Vladimir Vasilyev is tenth, with 14 points, 10 of which come from his place in the overall. Proof, if any were needed, that consistent drivers who rank high in the final standings will be rewarded in the Championship even if they do not snap up points every day. The opposite also holds true: a driver like Loeb can make up for an off day by going on the attack and racking up points on the following days.
Six constructors have entered the W2RC in the car category. Toyota grabbed 80 points in the Dakar thanks to Al-Attiyah and Al-Rajhi placing their Hiluxes on the podium of the race. BRX and X-raid Mini JCW are already vying for second place with 45 points apiece. MD Rallye Sport lies fourth (25 points), the Overdrive OT3 fifth (16 points) and PH Sport sixth (14 points).
The W2RC regulations give co-drivers the attention that they deserve. A title will be awarded at the end of the season to make sure that everyone in the cockpit gets their dues. In this regard, it will come as no surprise that the navigators wrapped up the Dakar with the same number of points as the drivers at their side. However, crew changes during the season and co-drivers who take up "gigs" with other codrivers will lead to divergences in the two classifications. Mathieu Baumel and Fabian Lurquin are deadlocked at the top of this ranking.
LIGHTWEIGHT PROTOTYPES (T3s): "CHALECO" TURNS THE TABLES AT THE FINISH
Seth Quintero bounced back from a heart-breaking mechanical to chalk up one stage win after another and limit the damage in the Championship, with 55 points gained over the course of the Dakar. However, he had to settle for just 8 points at the finish, a drop in the ocean compared to the 50 points that went to Dakar T3 winner "Chaleco"! The South Racing / Can-Am captain collected 50 points in one fell swoop to rocket up the ranking and finish the first round of the W2RC with 88 points on his account. Quintero's teammate in the Red Bull Off Road Junior Team, Cristina Gutiérrez, is second with 73 points. Quintero himself is third with 63.
Santiago Navarro lies fourth with 38 points, followed by Thomas Bell and Camelia Liparoti (Yamaha), both with 25. Another woman, Dania Akeel from Saudi Arabia, is seventh with 17 points, one more than Lionel Costes A total of fifteen drivers scored points.
Among the co-drivers, Juan Pablo Latrach Vinagre (88 points) leads the T3 competition ahead of François Cazalet (73 points) and Dennis Zenz (63 points).
T4s: CONSISTENCY PAYS DIVIDENDS TOO
Austin Jones did not pick up a single stage win in the SSV category this year. The South Racing / Can-Am factory driver mimicked the strategy put in place by "Chaleco" in the T3 race and chose substance over style. It proved to be the right decision, as he won the Dakar in the T4 category and now leads the World Championship thanks to the 50-point jackpot awarded to the top-ranked W2RC entrant in the race. The American boasts 83 points to Marek Goczał and Rokas Baciuška's 68.
Michał Goczał (57 points) is just outside the podium after the first round, followed by Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira (49 points), Aron Domżała (34 points) and Lucas del Río and Gael Queralt (both 10 points).
Among the navigators, Gustavo Gugelmin (83 points) has a certain margin over Łukasz Łaskawiec and Oriol Mena (both 68 points).
T5s: A CLASH OF TITANS
The Championship regulations are clear: drivers have to finish the round to receive the points gained during the stages. Only two T5 W2RC entrants were still in the race by the time the rally got to Jeddah. Martin Macík collected a mammoth 108 points, an amount worthy of his titan-like Big Shock Racing truck.
Kees Koolen is second with 86 points. It is all to play for, as the two juggernauts have become used to divvying up the biggest hauls on offer.
In the truck category, the Czech duo of Tomášek and Švanda have 108 points to De Graaff and Van Uden's 86.
16 bikers signed up for the W2RC in the RallyGP category. Credit where credit is due: Sunderland leads the Championship with 38 points, ahead of Quintanilla with 30 and the reigning world champion, Walkner, with 24. Adrien Van Beveren, runner-up to Walkner in 2021 and fourth in the Dakar, picked up 20. The competition is still wide open after the first round of the 2022 season. Kevin Benavides is dead last, with a single point to his name, after his engine gave up the ghost in stage 10 of the Dakar. Honda can find solace in the constructor ranking after letting the Dakar title slip away. It now tops the leader board after placing its four motorbikes in the top 10. The Japanese maker has accumulated 47 points, while GasGas got 38 exclusively from Sunderland's performance. KTM is nipping at their heels with 36, while Sherco is fourth with 14, one length ahead of Hero with 13 and Husqvarna with 9. In the Rally2 competition, Mason Klein holds the pole position in the battle for the World Cup with 38 points to Camille Chapelière's 30. Bradley Cox spent many days in second place, but a crash sent him plummeting down the standings. Alfie's son is fifth with 17 points. Another Frenchman, Romain Dumontier, is third with 24 points, while Jan Brabec is fourth with 20.
In the fight for the Junior title, Mason Klein (38 points) will come up against Bradley Cox (30 points) and Konrad Dąbrowski (24 points). Jean-Loup Lepan (20 points), Mike Wiedemann (17 points) and Leonardo Tonelli (15 points) are also favourites, bringing the number of promising young riders up to six.
In the quad competition, Alexandre Giroud leads the World Cup ahead of Francisco Moreno, Kamil Wiśniewski, Zdeněk Tůma, Carlos Alejandro Verza, Marcelo Medeiros and Nicolás Robledo Serna
Next up in the W2RC, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, scheduled for 5 to 10 March.