– Dias and Martinez finish first and second in FIA World Cup’s Challenger category
– Fernando Alvarez and Xavier Panseri top the standings in the SSV class
– Three South Racing Can-Ams in top 10 of general classification at Saudi Baja in Ha’il
TheSouth Racing Can-Am Team got its 2024 FIA World Cup Baja campaign off to a superb start with outright success in both the Challenger and SSV categories at the three-day Saudi Baja.
The Portuguese duo of João Dias and João Miranda have registered for the FIA World Baja Cup and crewed the Santag Racing Can-Am run by South Racing. The Portuguese won the T3 category in last year’s FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and made the perfect start to his FIA World Cup challenge with sixth overall and maximum points in the new Challenger category.
Argentina’s Diego Martinez and Uruguayan co-driver Sergio Lafuente rounded off the top 10 in the general classification and secured the runner-up spot in the competitive Challenger field.
Fernando Alvarez and Xavier Panseri teamed up to represent the South Racing Can-Am Team in the Conarpesa-backed Maverick XRS Turbo RR and have switched to the SSV category this season. They controlled the class from the opening stage of 302km on Friday and erred on the side of caution over the final kilometres to finish ninth overall and atop the SSV standings.
Alvarez said: « We did well. Xavier did an amazing job and the car was perfect also. We won the category. This is a nice way to start the World Cup. We are happy about that. »
South Racing Can-Am Team’s managing director Scott Abraham said: « This was a great race for the team and a perfect way to start the season. The Can-Am Maverick has proved again that it is the most reliable and consistent car in the field and continues to build upon its six consecutive World Cups. It is nice to be leaving Saudi Arabia with victories in the categories that we entered against stiff competition and new vehicles in the Challenger category. In the T4 category, the Maverick showed again that it is a dominant car. »
The South Racing Can-Am Team duo tackled a slippery Prologue stage of 6.25km to determine the starting order for the first of two selective sections through the An-Nafud desert.
The opening desert stage started at the village of Qina to the northwest of Ha’il and ran for 302km. Dias began strongly and held the FIA World Baja Cup’s Challenger category and sixth overall. Martinez also delivered a strong start and overcame the difficult navigation to slot into second and 11th overall. Alvarez was the class of the SSV field and finished the stage in eighth place to lead the category by 10min 52sec from Spanish Can-Am rival Alexander Toril Boquoi.
Alvarez said: « We did a very good job. Xavier was amazing, like always We were fast. Tomorrow is another day but we are happy. We have a good feeling. It’s important to get points here. »
Action concluded with a shorter stage of 164km that started out from the small desert settlement of Shut to the west of Hail. Dias and Martinez delivered excellent stage performances to confirm first and second places and Alvarez trod cautiously to preserve and maintain his lead in the SSV group to the finish.
The South Racing Can-Am Team receives valuable support for the race programme from BRP, Rotax, Method Wheels, Tensor Tires, Motul, J.Juan Brake Systems, Oakley and Sparco.
FIA World Baja Cup (Challenger – final standings):
1. João Dias (BRA)/João Ferriera (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 4hr 59min 31sec
2. Diego Martinez (ARG)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 5hr 23min 52sec
3. Khalid Al-Jafla (ARE)/Andrei Rudnitski (LTU) Can-Am Maverick X3 6hr 16min 29sec
4. Bradley Salazar (ECU)/Marco Guerron Coronel (ECU) Can-Am Maverick X3 6hr 27min 51sec
FIA World Baja Cup (SSV – final standings):
1. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR 5hr 13min 31sec
2. Alexander Toril Boquoi (ESP)/Pedro Chaves (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR 5hr 28min 14sec
3. Luis Henderson (URY)/Bruno Jacomy (ARG) Polaris RZR Pro R 5hr 57min 32sec
4. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Faisal Al-Suwayh (SAU) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR 6hr 26min 14sec