– Portugal’s João Monteiro seals podium finish in FIA T3 category
– South Racing’s T3 FIA World Cup title challengers Alvarez and Akeel finish fifth and 12th
– Third place in T4 category for Spaniard Edouard Pons
The South Racing Can-Am Team’s Cristiano de Sousa Batista and Portuguese co-driver Fausto Moto dominated the FIA T4 category at the two-day Baja Spain Aragón and the Brazilian now holds an outright lead in his class after the fourth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas. He won the Prologue and two of the stages on his way to victory by the margin of 6min 32.3sec.
Edouard Pons and Jaume Betriu teamed up to crew the second of the South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RRs in T4 and finished third overall.
Belgian racer Guillaume de Mevius won the FIA T3 category on this occasion but the South Racing Cam-Am Team earned a podium finish with the Portuguese pairing of João Monteiro and Nuno Morais finishing third overall.
Defending FIA T3 World Cup Bajas champion Fernando Alvarez teamed up with French co-driver Xavier Panseri in his Conarpesa-backed Can-Am and collected valuable championship points for fifth place. Dutchman Erik van Loon was partnered by Hein Verschuuren on this occasion and reached the finish in seventh.
Alvarez said: « We did a good job. For the championship it was very good also because all the people who were in front of us were behind us in the race. That makes it very close. It is easy to lose many positions here but I am happy to finish fifth. »
Dania Akeel and Germany’s Taye Perry climbed through the field as the event progressed, despite a puncture and dust issues from following slower cars to finish 12th after clocking the 10th quickest time on the last stage.
Otavio Sousa tackled the event for the first time with regular Portuguese co-driver João Ferreira but failed to start the final day after technical issues on Friday. The T3 championship leader had finished fourth on the opening Prologue stage.
South Racing Can-Am Team’s managing director Scott Abraham said: « Baja Spain is always a challenging event for man and machine with high temperatures and very technical stages. It was a bumper entry this year in both T3 and T4. It was a great race for Cristiano Batista, winning the T4 category and consolidating his lead in the FIA Baja World Cup. It was also a strong run to third for Edouard Pons, who was using the event as preparation for Desafio Ruta 40.
« On the T3 side, João Monteiro had a great race on his debut and finished third overall and it was a good result for Fernando Alvarez in fifth, earning valuable World Championship points. Erik van Loon and Dania Akeel also had solid races in their Can-Ams. Now we have a small break before heading off to Baja Poland to continue our hunt for the titles in the FIA Baja World Cup. »
Because of the Spanish elections taking place on Sunday, the route for the 2023 Baja was compressed into two days with action getting underway with a Prologue stage of 5.83km on Friday morning.
De Mévius was the man to beat in the 31-strong T3 category for lightweight prototype vehicles and he edged into a 3.7-second advantage over João Monteiro in his South Racing-built Can-Am. Otavio Sousa came home in fourth, Alvarez was 14th, Akeel was 22nd and Van Loon was 28th.
In T4, De Sousa Batista continued his remarkable run of form to set the fastest time in his South Racing Can-Am with Eduard Pons coming home in fourth place behind Navarro and Warnia.
The first of the selective sections ran in punishing heat for 179.84km between Bañón and Cuevas Labradas on Friday afternoon. De Mévius extended his lead over João Dias to 28.4 seconds, with Monteiro coming home in fourth to maintain third overall. South Racing’s Alvarez, van Loon, Akeel and Sousa were sixth, 12th, 20th and 28th overall.
In T4, De Sousa Batista extended his lead over FIA World Cup rival Warnia to 4min 18.3sec with the fastest time. Pons finished fifth and held a similar position in the class rankings.
Action concluded with two selective sections on Saturday, starting with a 155.47km run between Bañón and Celadas. The championship-leading Sousa failed to start a stage where De Mévius again finished ahead of Dias to move into a lead of 2min 11.4sec. Monteiro, Alvarez and Van Loon finished the stage in third, sixth and eighth overall and Akeel climbed to 13th.
De Sousa Batista extended his overall lead in T4 with Pons setting the second quickest time and holding third place.
Held in the punishing heat of a Spanish summer afternoon, the final stage ran for 171.36km between Monreal and Gea. De Sousa Batista ceded the stage win to Spanish rival Pau Navarro but confirmed victory in T4, while Monteiro wrapped up a T3 podium and Alvarez moved up to fifth.
The South Racing Can-Am Team receives valuable support for the race programme from Method Wheels, Tensor Tires, Motul, Jjuan Brake Systems and Sparco.
The next round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas takes place in Poland on August 24th-27th.
Baja Spain Aragón – FIA T3 standings
1. Guillaume de Mévius (BEL)/François Cazalet (FRA) G Rally Team OT3, 6hr 39min 30.9sec
2. João Dias (PRT)/Pedro Ré (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3, 6hr 43min 39.7sec
3. João Monteiro (PRT)/Nuno Viegas Morais (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3, 6hr 52min 18.3sec
4. Armindo Araújo (PRT)/Luis Ramalho (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3, 6hr 57min 17.1sec
5. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3, 6hr 58min 26.5sec
6. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Dennis Zenz (DEU) Can-Am Maverick X3, 7hr 02min 00.9sec
7. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Hein Verschuuren (NLD) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3, 7hr 03min 51.4sec
8. Laia Sanz (ESP)/Maurizio Gerini (ITA) Taurus T3 Max T3M, 7hr 12min 35.0sec
9. Kees Koolen (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) G Rally Team OT3, 7hr 14min 42.2sec
10. Paolo Rodrigues (PRT)/Miguel Salvador (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3, 7hr 14min 50.3sec
11. Benjamin Favre (FRA)/Jean Pierre Garcin (FRA) MMP T3 Rally Raid, 7hr 18min 52.4sec
12. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Taye Perry (DEU) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3, 7hr 23min 56.8sec…
Otavio Sousa (BRA)/João Ferreira (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3, DNF
Baja Spain Aragón – FIA T4 standings
1. Cristiano Batista (BRA)/Fausto Mota (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR, 7hr 02min 08.5sec
2. Pau Navarro (ESP)/Gonçalo Reis (PRT) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR, 7hr 08min 40.8sec
3. Eduardo Pons (ESP)/Jaume Betriu (ESP) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR, 7hr 13min 58.5sec
4. Ricardo Ramilo Suarez (ESP)/Bruno Jacomy (ARG) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR, 7hr 17min 26.1sec
5. Stefano Marrini (ITA)/Silvio Valentini (ITA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR, 7hr 48min 21.7sec…