Saudi Baja: Second place for Joao Ferreira

– Just 38 seconds short of victory
– Fourth and fifth place in the Challenger class for Lónyai and Quandt

Just a few weeks after the Dakar Rally, X-raid once again set up a service park in Hail, Saudi Arabia. This time for the Saudi Baja, the first round of the FIA World Baja Cup. After three days and about 472 kilometres, Joao Ferreira and Filipe Palmeiro finished second in the MINI JCW Rally Plus. In the end, the Portuguese duo were only 38 seconds behind the winner and local hero Yazeed Al-Rajhi. The two X-raid 1000R Turbo crews Pál Lónyai / Dmytro Tsyro and Annett Quandt / Annie Seel finished fourth and fifth overall in the Challenger classification.

After a break of several months, Ferreira and Palmeiro were back in the MINI JCW Rally Plus. Ferreira, who had contested the Dakar in a side-by-side, still had to get used to the big MINI in the prologue and the first special stage. He finished both days in third place. But on Saturday, the two Portuguese riders went on the attack, securing victory on the day and second place overall.

Lónyai still had something to make up for in Saudi Arabia. During the Dakar, he had to retire after the rest day due to severe neck pain. However, he was able to attack again at the Saudi Baja and secured twelfth place. He finished fourth in the Challenger classification.

It was a special event for Annett Quandt and Annie Seel. The X-raid 1000R Turbo crew finished in the top 10 in the prologue, and as the first ten were turned round for the start of the following special stage, the women’s duo started right at the front in the dunes. A major challenge for every rider and navigator. They lost time, but learnt a lot. After three days, Quandt and Seel finished the Baja in 14th place overall and fifth place in the Challenger classification. Annett Quandt plans to complete the entire Saudi championship.

X-raid will continue in just under two weeks at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (25/02 – 02/03/2024), the second round of the FIA World Rally Raid Championship.

Quotes from the drivers
Joao Ferreira (MINI JCW Rally Plus): « I’m happy to have finished second so close behind Yazeed. Yesterday we had some difficulties feeling confident with the car, but from yesterday to today we improved a lot thanks to Filipe and X-Raid and were able to push a lot more. »

Pál Lónyai (X-raid 1000R Turbo): « I’m happy to have finished this not-so-easy Baja in Saudi Arabia. Many thanks to the team! I am also happy with our result. A good race, good training and special thanks to my co-driver Dmytro. »

Annett Quandt (X-raid 1000R Turbo): « It was a cool Baja. We learnt a lot here. Friday in particular was really tough for us, as we had never opened a stage before. It was also a tough job for Annie. It’s clear that even the professional riders don’t want to start at the front in the dunes. We may have lost time, but we gained a lot of experience. The top riders overtook us at some point and I was able to learn a lot. I’m really grateful for this opportunity.
« The second round of the Saudi championship will take place in May. For the first time this year, starters who are not from Saudi Arabia or the UAE will be allowed to collect points. This is a great opportunity to prepare for the next Dakar. »

Overall standings Saudi Baja
1. Y. Al-Rajhi / T. Gottschalk – Toyota – 4h 28m 53s
2. J. Ferreira / F. Palmeiro – MINI JCW Rally Plus – 4h 29m 31s
3. R. Baciuska / O. Vidal – Toyota – 4h 30m 02s
4. J. Yacopini / D. Oliveras – Toyota – 4h 35m 21s
5. s. Alsaif / N. Alkuwari – OT3 – 4h 47m 50s…
12. P. Lónyai / D. Tsyro – X-raid 1000R Turbo – 5h 31m 37s…
14. A. Quandt / A. Seel – X-raid 1000R Turbo – 5h 39m 44s…