The South Racing Can-Am Team triumphed in both the FIA T3 and T4 categories at a rain-sodden Baja Portalegre 500, round three of the 2020 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, on Saturday.
Young Belgian driver Guillaume de Mevius enjoyed a stunning weekend and even led the event outright in his South Racing Can-Am after the second stage on Friday. He and fellow countryman Martijn Wydaeghe lost a little time and were 12th quickest of all the crews in the final timed test and duly sealed second in the overall standings, behind Bernhard Ten Brinke, and a comfortable T3 victory by the margin of 2min 37.6sec.
Aron Domżala and Maciej Marton drove a South Racing Can-Am with Monster Energy Can-Am branding and dominated the FIA T4 category on Friday and were second quickest in the T4 section on Saturday’s stage to secure fourth in the overall standings and a T4 win over South Racing’s Alexander Ré by 14 minutes.
Dutchman Kees Koolen was third in the T4 section in his South Racing Can-Am, 19min 08sec behind the Pole.
Can-Ams dominated the T3 category as well. Russian driver Vasily Gryazin and Latvian navigator Oleg Uperenko shadowed De Mevius to the finish to claim the runner-up spot, while the South Racing Can-Ams of Saudi Arabia’s Saleh Al-Saif. Germany’s Bernt Hoffman and Portugal’s Gualter Barros reached the finish in fifth, seventh and eighth.
South Racing Can-Am Team’s Scott Abraham said: « This was another great rally for the Monster Energy Can-Am Team. Aron and Maciej continue to put more valuable kilometres on the 2021 Maverick that we are taking to Dakar. The conditions again resembled more of a trial but we are really happy to come away with the victory in the T4 category. Now we can focus on Ha’il (Saudi Arabia) in four and a half weeks’ time.
« This was a phenomenal result for Guillaume and Martijn. From the Prologue onwards, they were in a perfect event. He is, for sure, a driver to look out for in the future. I am really happy with the rest of the results for the South Racing team of Alexander Ré, Kees Koolen, Saleh Al-Saif and Gualter Barros.
« They all finished the event, a 100% finishing rate in these appalling conditions shows the reliability of the South Racing Can-Am. The extra bonus for us was second overall for the South Racing Can-Am and fourth for the Monster Energy one. »
Domżala made the perfect start with the fastest time of all the T4 runners through the opening super special stage of 3.36km. The Pole carded a time of 3min 35sec to snatch an early advantage of 5.9 seconds over Ré. Koolen came in third, a further 1.5 seconds adrift.
Guillaume de Mevius, the 26-year-old son of the former WRC and Dakar star Grégoire and brother of WRC star Ghislain, set the fastest time in the 3.36km super special stage in the T3 section with his South Racing Can-Am. Gryazin settled into third with his SRT Can-Am, built by South Racing, and Gualter Barros and Saleh Al-Saif were fifth and sixth.
Crews then tackled a selective section of 75.31km between Ponte Sûr and Cabeço Vide. Incessant rain and localised flooding made driving conditions particularly treacherous and unpleasant for the motorcycle and quad riders and SSV crews. Another stunning performance by Domżala gave him fourth overall and a clear lead over Ré and Koolen in T4.
But the Pole was beaten by a sensational De Mevius in his South Racing Can-Am X3. The Belgian clocked the fastest time of all the competitors to take an overall lead in the rally, in addition to a 5min 03sec advantage in T3 over Gryazin.
Notional times were given to the remainder of the T3 crews, as a result of a stage stoppage because of the weather conditions, and Barros and Al-Saif reached the night halt in fifth and sixth.
Rally officials then decided to substantially shorten the second leg and the two demanding selectives in the original itinerary were replaced by a final inundated stage of 79.12km. A cautious approach ensured that Domżala held off the stage-winning Ré to win T4, with Koolen coming home in third to make it a South Racing-built 1-2-3.
De Mevius ceded a little time to his rivals and lost the outright lead after running first on the road. But the Belgian claimed the T3 victory, with Al-Saif. Hoffman and Barros coming home in fifth, seventh and eighth.
Action resumes in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas in Saudi Arabia in mid-December.
2020 Baja Portalegre 500 – T4 results
1. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Monster Energy Can-Am Maverick X3, 2hrs 21min 01sec
2. Alexander Ré (PRT)/Pedro Ré (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3, 2hrs 35min 01sec
3. Kees Koolen (NLD)/Miriam Pol (NLD) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3, 2hrs 40min 08sec
2020 Baja Portalegre 500 – T3 results
1. Guillaume de Mevius (BEL)/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3, 2hr 19min 28sec
2. Vasily Gryazin (RUS)/Oleg Uperenko (LTV) SRT Can-Am Maverick X3, 2hrs 22min 06sec
3. Laurent Poletti (FRA)/Cyril Debet (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3, 2hrs 32min 00sec
4. Ghislain de Mevius (BEL)/Joahn Jalet (BEL) Yamaha Interceptor, 2hrs 47min 54sec,
5.Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Omar Al-Lahim (SAU) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3, 2hrs 50min 01sec
6. Victor Grasa Royo (ESP)/Manuel Dominguez (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3, 2hrs 51min 04sec
7. Bernd Hoffmann (DEU)/Juan Carlos Carignani (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3, 2hra 51min 43sec
8. Gualter Barros (PRT)/Francisco Esperto (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3, 2hrs 51min 54sec