South Racing-built Can-Am Maverick X3s claimed a clean sweep of the podiums in both the FIA T3 and T4 categories at Hail Baja 1, round four of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
The Dutch duo of Kees Koolen and Jurgen van der Goorbergh enjoyed a successful challenge for honours in Saudi Arabia by guiding their South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 to victory in the FIA T4 section.
In so doing, Koolen closed the gap on main rival and third-placed Aron Domzala at the top of the T4 Championship standings in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas heading into a final two-day showdown for the title on the fifth round of the series and the second of the Baja events on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Qatar’s Khalifa Al-Attiyah teamed up with Italian navigator Paulo Ceci for the first time to tackle the event in a South Racing Can-Am and reached the finish in second place in the T4 category.
Portuguese crew of Lorenço Rosa and Joaquim Dias were sidelined on Saturday morning with temperature issues.
South Racing also enjoyed success in the FIA T3 prototype category with 26-year old Belgian driver Guillaume de Mevius and navigator Martijn Wydaeghe finishing second overall in the section behind Saudi driver Saleh Al-Saif in his South Racing-built off-road vehicle.
With rival Vasily Gryazin suffering his own fair share of problems on the first day and finishing third, the outcome of the FIA T3 Drivers’ Championship will be decided on the final round.
South Racing Can-Am Team’s Scott Abraham said:“This was a great event for the team with South Racing vehicles clean-sweeping the podiums in both the T4 side-by-side category and T3. It was a strong performance from the team and we look forward to the second Baja in the coming days.”
Saleh Al-Saif recorded a stunning stage time to snatch the FIA T3 lead and seventh overall after the opening stage of 251.81km. De Mevius finished ninth overall and in a comfortable second position but Gryazin damaged a drive shaft on his Can-Am and incurred time penalties.
Monster Energy’s Aron Domzala’s hopes of confirming the FIA T4 title in a South Racing-built car suffered a setback when an electrical issue issue meant that he struggled at the start and was then forced to change two drive shafts after 60km to enable him to continue in two-wheel drive. The decision was taken for the Pole to take a stage maximum penalty of seven hours to conserve the car for day two.
Title rival Koolen claimed the stage win and the Dutchman’s team-mates Al-Attiyah and Rosa were second and third. Koolen eventually reached the finish in 12th overall after setting the second fastest time on the last stage behind Domzala. De Mevius was also second quickest in his T3 section behind Al-Saif, with Gryazin in third.
The second of the Hail Bajas has a shorter format and offers two selective sections of 311.57km and 180.29km on December 15 and 16.
2020 Hail Baja 1 – T3 results
1. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 7hr 10min 19sec
2. Guillaume de Mevius (BEL)/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 7hr 19min 08sec
3. Vasily Gryazin (RUS)/Oleg Uperenko (LVA) SRT Can-Am Maverick X3 16hr 52min 42sec
2020 Baja Hail 1 – T4 results
1. Kees Koolen (NLD)/urgen van den Goorbergh (NLD) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 7hr 41min 43sec
2. Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Paolo Ceci (ITA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 7hr 49min 05sec
3. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Monster Energy Can-Am Maverick X3 19hr 43min 08sec
Lorenço Rosa (PRT)/Joaquim Dias (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 DNF
Source: South Racing press release