– South Racing Can-Am’s De Sousa finishes third overall; all eight Can-Ams at the finish
The South Racing Can-Am Team returned to action after a long gap in the FIA calendar to secure outright wins in both the FIA T4 and T3 categories and a stunning third in the general classification at the three-day Italian Baja.
South Racing entered four Can-Am Maverick XRSs in both the T4 section and the T3 category for lightweight prototype machines and third-placed Brazilian Cristiano de Sousa and Dutchman Erik van Loon won their respective T4 and T3 categories.
De Sousa’s podium finish and the T4 win by the margin of nearly five minutes alongside co-driver Wladimir Grunenberg was boosted by third, fourth and fifth-placed finishes for Dutchman Kees Koolen, Spaniard Eduard Pons and Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri. They were partnered by their respective co-drivers, Paolo Ceci, Oriol Mena and Nasser Al-Kuwari.
Van Loon and co-driver Sebastien Delaunay secured T3 success by 5min 29.7sec and South Racing Can-Am team-mates Dania Akeel, Fernando Alvarez and Anja van Loon came home in third, fifth and ninth in T3. Akeel again teamed up with Frenchman Laurent Lichtleuchter, while Xavier Panseri and Lisette Bakker partnered Alvarez and Anja van Loon.
There were no less than 15 South Racing Can-Am Team-built machines entered at the Italian Baja, as the brand continues to build and support its global customer operations.
South Racing Can-Am Team’s Scott Abraham said: « It was another great race for the team taking the win in both the T3 and T4 categories. Erik overcame a really bad starting position to win T3. The South Racing Can-Am Team did a great job and all our cars that started the race made it to the finish. We continue to lead the World Championship in both the T3 and T4 categories.
« We now have a really quick turn around to Baja Spain. The cars will be in the workshop for just four days before heading out to Teruel where the team will field 15 cars in completely different race conditions. »
Timed action got underway with a Qualifying Stage of 14.30km between San Martino al Tagliamento and Valvasone late on Friday afternoon. Cristiano de Sousa topped the South Racing Can-Am times through the opener, the Brazilian guiding his Maverick XRS to the second quickest time in the T4 section. Al-Thefiri, Pons and Koolen were third, fifth and seventh.
Alvarez was the pace-setter in T3, the Spaniard completing the stage nearly 23 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. Erik van Loon reached the finish in fifth, Akeel was sixth and Anja van Loon was 11th. Alvarez said: « The stage was good. A little bit of dust. It was not windy and it was difficult to drive behind another car. »
Repeat passes through a selective section of 112.48km between Zoppola and Dignano made up Saturday’s itinerary.
De Sousa got the better of Spanish rival Amerigo Ventura to top the T4 times on the first stage and the Brazilian closed the gap on the Italian to 10.1 seconds in the overall rankings. Erik van Loon hit back strongly to win the T3 special from Akeel and the Dutchman moved to the top of the T3 standings, with Akeel in second and Alvarez losing over 15 minutes on the stage.
The second pass was held in hot, dusty conditions and De Sousa got the better of Al-Thefiri to win the T4 stage, hold sixth overall and continue to head the T4 rankings. Alvarez, Erik van Loon and Akeel finished second, third and fourth in T3, with the Dutchman maintaining the overall advantage over Spain’s Santiago Navarro.
The fourth and final stage of 115.09km started at Dignano and finished at Cordenons before the ceremonial finish in Pordenone. De Sousa sealed T4 success with the stage win and the fastest T3 time for Erik van Loon gave him a maiden FIA T3 success in a Can-Am.
The South Racing Can-Am Team received valuable support for the race programme from Method Wheels, Tensor Tires, Motul, Bell, Jjuan Brake Systems, Lazer and OMP.
The team returns to action at the Baja Spain Aragón on July 22nd-24th.
Italian Baja 2022 – FIA T3 final standings
1. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS, 4hr 53min 17.5sec
2. Santiago Navarro (ESP)/Marc Sola (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 XRS, 4hr 58min 47.2sec
3. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS, 5hr 03min 49.6sec
4. Pau Navarro (ESP)/Pedro Lopez (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS, 5hr 12min 09.1sec
5. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS, 5hr 14min 38.0sec
6. Ricardo Ramilo (ESP)/Francisco Javier Lopez (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 XRS, 5hr 15min 05.4sec
7. Bernd Hoffman (DEU)/Juan Carlos Carignani (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 XRS, 5hr 15min 49.8sec
8. Jordi Segura (ESP)/Sergi Brugue (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 XRS, 5hr 25min 43.5sec
9. Anja van Loon (NLD)/Lisette Bakker (NLD) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS, 5hr 38min 41.8sec
10. Filipe Nascimento (PRT)/João Fernandez Serodio (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3, 5hr 41min 24.2sec
11. Mashael Al-Obaidan (SAU)/Armand Monleón (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 XRS, 8hr 27min 52.4sec
Italian Baja 2022 – FIA T4 final standings:
1. Cristiano de Sousa (BRA)/Vladimir Grunenberg (BRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS, 4hr 45min 32.1sec
2. Amerigo Ventura (ITA)/Mirko Brun (ITA) Yamaha YXZ 1000R, 4hr 50min 30.2sec
3. Kees Koolen (NLD)/Paolo Ceci (ITA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS, 4hr 51min 17.4sec
4. Eduard Pons (ESP)/Oriol Mena (ESP) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS, 5hr 01min 09.2sec
5. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS, 5hr 45min 07.9sec
6. Lina van der Mars (DEU)/Guilia Maroni (ITA) Polaris RZR Pro XP, 6hr 0min 23.8sec
7. Egidijus Valeiša (LTU)/ Mindaugas Varža (LTU) Can-Am Maverick XRS, 6hr 48min 08.4sec
8. Tomasz Bialkowski (POL)/Dariusz Baskiewicz (POL) Polaris RZR Pro XP, 7hr 02min 21.3sec