The Monster Energy Can-Am Team has entered four Can-Am Maverick X3s in the 2021 Dakar Rally and will be challenging for honours in the SSV T4 section for lightweight production cross-country vehicles.
The world’s most demanding off-road rally starts in Jeddah on January 2nd and finishes back in the Saudi Arabian coastal city on January 15th after 12 special stages and 4,767 competitive kilometres in a route of 7,646 km.
Brazilian driver Reinaldo Varela, Pole Aron Domżala, Spaniard Gerard Farrés and young American Austin Jones drive the four Can-Ams with their respective co-drivers Maykel Justo, Maciej Marton, Armand Monleón and Gustavo Gugelmin reading the road books and offering vital navigational expertise on the demanding desert special stages.
Varela and fellow Brazilian Justo have additional support from Divino Fogao, as the experienced driver attempts to win the SSV category at the Dakar Rally for the second time in four years. Varela achieved his win in 2018 and followed that success up with third in 2019 and ninth in 2020. Justo took part in two African and four South American Dakars in the truck category, finishing fourth with André De Azevedo in 2006.
Domżala recently finished runner-up in the 2020 FIA T4 category of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and won the category at the Andalucia Rally in October and both Baja Poland and Baja Portalegre. He claimed a stage win in the SSV category at the 2020 Dakar Rally and will be hoping to challenge for the top step of the SSV T4 podium.
“Last year we were quite unlucky,” admitted the Pole. “We won the first stage and then we had problems. We got really good results on some stages, finishing, I think, five times on the podium. The Dakar is always really exciting because you never know what will happen. I never go into it saying ‘we’re ready, we’re going to win’ because anything can happen in 14 days.”
Farrés made the successful transition from a career on two-wheels to tackle the Dakar in the SSV category in 2019 and finished second overall, the Spaniard following that success up with three stage wins and 11th place in 2020. His best finish on two wheels was a stunning third overall behind Sam Sunderland and Matthias Walkner in 2017.
This will be a 14th Dakar for the Spaniard, who said: “At the last edition we explored a new continent and I must say I like the three eras of the Dakar equally. I feel very much at home in SSV. Although we were supported by a team, motorcycling was a more individual sport. I will set off with Armand and we have to get along well to navigate correctly. There is a lot of stress with the driving. You have to be very focused because a mistake can be very costly. The goal is to get back on the podium.”
Jones teams up with Varela’s former navigator Gugelmin, with whom he impressed at the Qatar Cross-Country Rally back in February. The American finished eighth and second rookie on his Dakar debut in 2020 and will be out to repeat the SSV victory earned by fellow countryman Casey Currie last January.
“The experience of Dakar 2020 was amazing,” said the 24-year-old. “We were in a really good spot about half-way through, but then we had some bad luck. The size of the event really blew me away, the scale of the organisation and how worldwide the event is. We are better prepared. I am ready to go and I am excited to go.”
Monster Energy South Racing Can-Am team’s Scott Abraham said: “We have assembled a fantastic team this year to challenge for overall victory in the SSV category. I believe that the team complements each other and we are aiming for the podium on one of the longest Dakars in recent years.”
Action gets underway with an 11km Prologue in Jeddah on January 2nd and that will determine the starting order for the opening selective section of 27km between Jeddah and Bisha on January 3rd.
A longer 457km stage takes place between Bisha and Wadi Al-Dawasir on Monday and this is followed by a loop stage of 403km on January 5th. The Dakar route then heads on to the Saudi capital Riyadh for a stage of 337km next Wednesday.
Teams will then tackle a 419km stage between Riyadh and Buraydah on January 7th before heading on to Ha’il along a challenging 485km selective section. The city in the north-central region of the Kingdom will then host the traditional rest day on January 9th.
Action resumes with a 471km Marathon stage between Ha’il and Sakaka and a shorter 375km special to the innovative new city of Neom, close to the shores of the Red Sea. Teams then tackle a Neom loop stage of 465km on January 12th before heading to the historic town of Al Ula on a special of 342km.
The penultimate stage of 511km takes the Monster Energy Can-Am Team from Al Ula to Yanbu on January 11th and the final timed section of 225km between Yanbu and Jeddah brings the event to a conclusion on January 12th.
Support for the Monster Energy Can-Am Team comes from Method Wheels, Tensor Tires, Motul, Jjuan Brake Systems, Bell, Lazer and OMP.
Source: Monster Energy Can-Am press release