South Racing Can-Am Team’s Sousa and de Sousa Batista earn impressive FIA T3 and 4 victories at Italian Baja

– Brazilian Cristiano de Sousa Batista finishes fifth overall and wins T4
– Sixth overall and stunning T3 victory for fellow countryman Otavio Sousa
– Dania Akeel earns valuable championship points for fourth place in T3

The South Racing Can-Am Team enjoyed outright success in both the FIA T3 and T4 categories at the three-day Italian Baja, round three of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.

Brazil’s Cristiano de Sousa Batista and Portuguese co-driver Fausto Moto saw off a fierce challenge from Italian rivals, Amerigo Ventura and Mirko Brun, to snatch T4 success on the final stage. Such was the Can-Am crew’s pace that they also finished fifth in the general classification behind four much more powerful T1+ machines.

De Sousa Batista said: « We needed to make up 1min 30sec on the final stage to win the race and we did a good job. The car was perfect and it was a great day for us. »

Otavio Sousa and his Portuguese co-driver João Ferreira finished sixth overall in their Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo and that was sufficient to win the T3 category by 1min 35.9sec.

The South Racing Can-Am Team ran four additional cars in the FIA T3 category in Italy. Last year’s T3 Baja series runner-up Dania Akeel joined forces with Germany’s Taye Perry and reached the finish in Pordenone in a fine fourth place in her class, the result giving the Saudi valuable points for her championship challenge.

Defending FIA T3 World Cup Bajas champion Fernando Alvarez again teamed up with French co-driver Xavier Panseri in his Conarpesa-backed Can-Am. The Spaniard overcame his own fair share of delays to reach the finish in 12th in T3 but saw his useful championship lead disappear as a result.

The husband and wife pairing of Erik and Anya van Loon drove the other two Can-Ams. Anya van Loon teamed up with Floor Maten and finished ninth in the T3 category, despite being penalised eight minutes on the final day for a road book error. Husband Erik suffered electrical problems early in the race and incurred hefty time penalties. He and co-driver Sébastien Delaunay finished 11th.

South Racing Can-Am Team’s managing director Scott Abraham said: « This was a great result for the team with first place in both the T3 and T4 categories. It was also a superb result for the Batista family. As always, the race in Italy throws up its challenges, especially with the hot temperatures and the water crossings.
« A big thanks to all members of our team for the work they have done over the weekend. Leaving Italy, it is now a short turnaround, only two weeks, before we get to Baja Spain and the next round of the championship. »

Otavio Sousa claimed the T3 bragging rights for South Racing Can-Am Team on the opening 10.07km Qualifying Stage at Zoppolo with the quickest time of 7min 47.8sec. That put the Brazilian 4.3 seconds in front of Italy’s Federico Butto with Meshari Al-Thefiri in third. Sousa’s team-mates, Alvarez, Akeel and the husband and wife Van Loon duo were classified in 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th. Erik van Loon had lost time with a minor electrical issue.

In T4, South Racing Can-Am Team’s De Sousa Batista finished second behind Italian rival Amerigo Ventura.

Two passes through a 131.21km selective section were on the cards for Saturday with the stage divided into two sections of 12.02km and 119.19km by a neutralisation zone. Action started in Pasch and finished in Dignano.

A stunning performance from De Sousa Batista saw the Brazilian net the sixth quickest time of all the cars and he moved up to fifth overall and 26.3 seconds clear of his nearest rival in the T4 section. The second fastest time in T3 enabled Otavio Sousa to maintain an 8.6-second cushion over his nearest rival. South Racing Can-Am team-mates Akeel, Anya van Loon, Alvarez and Erik van Loon held sixth, 11th, 14th and 15th in the category.

Another fastest time on the second pass through the stage enabled Sousa to extend his T3 lead to 1min 37.9sec, as team-mates Akeel and Anya van Loon finished the special in fifth and 10th to hold fifth and 12th in the T3 rankings. Alvarez and Erik van Loon were 14th and 15th. In T4, De Sousa Batista gave second best to rival Ventura on the stage and slipped to second place, 1min 29.2sec behind the Italian.

On-stage action concluded with a section of 119.27km between Dignano and Cordenons on Sunday morning that passed through Casa Quaranta and the village of Murlis in the municipality of Zoppolo.

Sousa won the T3 stage by 90 seconds to confirm victory but De Sousa Batista had to overcome a one and a half-minute deficit if he was to prevail in T4. The Brazilian delivered an impressive drive to win the stage by 2min 33.9sec and secured the class victory by 64.7 seconds.

The South Racing Can-Am Team receives valuable support for the race programme from Method Wheels, Tensor Tires, Motul, Jjuan Brake Systems and Sparco.

Italian Baja – FIA T3 standings:
1. Otavio Sousa (BRA)/João Ferreira (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 5hr 08min 48.6sec
2. Egidijus Valeiša (LTU)/Mindaugas Varza (LTU) Can-Am Maverick X3 5hr 10min 24.5sec
3. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 5hr 24min 55.3sec
4. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Taye Perry (DEU) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 5hr 27min 44.4sec
5. Kees Koolen (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) G Rally Team OT3 5hr 30min 39.5sec
6. Piotr Otko (POL)/Karolina Otko (POL) Can-Am Maverick X3 5hr 30min 40.6sec
7. Csaba Miklos (HUN)/Albert Horn (HUN) Bedu Pro X3 5hr 36min 41.9sec
8. Andrea Castagnera (ITA)/Alberto Marcon (ITA) Can-Am Maverick X3 5hr 40min 27.7sec
9. Anja van Loon (NLD)/Floor Maten (NLD) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 6hr 06min 36.4sec
10. Miklos Trebitsch (HUN)/Sandor Trebitsch (HUN) Bedu Pro X3 6hr 10min 59.8sec
11. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 53hr 27min 39.4sec
12. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 53hr 37min 49.2sec
Santiago Navarro (ESP)/Pol Ros (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 DNF
Elvis Borsoi (ITA)/Stefano Pelloni (ITA) Can-Am Maverick X3 DNF
Federico Butto (ITA)/Elisa Tassile (ITA) Can-Am Maverick X3 DNF

Italian Baja – FIA T4 standings:
1. Cristiano Batista (BRA)/Fausto Mota (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 5hr 08min 38.7sec
2. Amerigo Ventura (ITA)/Mirko Brun (ITA) Yamaha YXZ 1000 R 5hr 09min 43.4sec
3. Dario De Lorenzo (ITA)/Aldo De Lorenzo (ITA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 6hr 10min 27.1sec
4. Jeremie Warnia (FRA)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Polaris RXR Pro R 6hr 44min 54.1sec
5. Ricardo Ramilo Suarez (ESP)/Eduardo Pereira de Sa (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 43hr 34min 42.1sec
Pau Navarro (ESP)/Gonçalo Reis (PRT) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo DNF
Rebecca Busi (ITA)/Alba Sanchez (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo