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Saudi racer Al-Rajhi aims for victory in the Desafio Ruta 40 rally in Argentina

CORDOBA: Saudi world champion Yazeed bin Mohammed Al-Rajhi is gearing up for the second edition of the Desafio Ruta 40 Rally in Argentina, the fourth race of the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship (W2RC) to be held in the north-west region of the country.

The rally will take place in the provinces of Cordoba, San Juan and La Rioja in six days from June 1 to 7.

Alongside him will be German navigator Timo Gottschalk, his partner since the Abu Dhabi Rally 2023, both of whom will compete in a Toyota Hilux EVO T1U from the Overdrive Racing team from Belgium.

This year’s routes are completely new, including passes through Cordoba and San Juan, which are new additions to the race.

Al-Rajhi is targeting victory at this year’s Argentina stage after finishing third in the previous edition despite challenging terrain. These routes were previously used in stages of the Dakar Rally when Argentina hosted the competition from 2009-2018.

The Desafio Ruta 40 Rally, which first started in 2010 and ran for nine years before resuming in Argentina last year as part of the World Long Distance Desert Rally Championship, consists of five stages, three circular, preceded by a 17km long qualifying stage. The rally then heads west through La Rioja to finish with a total distance of 3,045 km. Renowned for its rugged and challenging terrain, the Argentina Rally is reminiscent of the Dakar Rally with its diverse landscape of gravel, open sand and high dunes.

Named after Argentina’s famous Route 40, the rally will take place along the famous road, the longest in South America and one of the longest in the world, alongside Route 66 in the United States.

“I am very excited to be returning for the second edition of Desafio Ruta 40,” said Al-Rajhi. “The first edition was difficult and full of challenges, but we managed to secure the top places. Let’s see what awaits us this season.

“Argentina is no stranger to us; I competed here for the first time in the 2015 Dakar Rally in a Toyota Hilux, with Tim as my navigator,” he added.

Al-Rajhi expressed his delight at racing in Argentina, saying: “I enjoy competing here; feel like home. I have a great fan base that has supported me since 2015. The fans here are amazing, they always support us and they love motorsport. That’s why we are always happy to come to Argentina to race.”

Al-Rajhi gave special thanks to his strategic partner, Jameel for Motorsport, for their support and sponsorship in his global and regional rally endeavours.

German navigator Timo Gottschalk also revealed his optimism about the championship season and pointed to the upcoming challenge with Al-Rajhi.

“This year we face a new challenge; the first release was extremely difficult but enjoyable. We have to be careful and hope for success in this round,” said Gottschalk.

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