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This week Monster Energy Honda Team were once again back at the French port of Le Havre to pick up the assistance vehicles and motorcycles freshly arrived back after the recent appearance in the Dakar Rally. Now back at the team’s headquarters, the mechanics are already hard at work to tackle the 2019 season.

The nine vehicles of the Monster Energy Honda Team: one truck, four vans and the four Laika motorhomes, in addition to the rider’s motorcycles, have completed the lengthy 1,900-kilometre trek from port of Le Havre in France to the Honda Europe Spain team facilities, where they have since been unloaded ready to undergo preparations for the forthcoming events.

The vessel containing the European vehicles, which had participated in Dakar 2019, arrived from Lima, Peru earlier this week at the French port, where the team was waiting to receive them. Now, at the team’s headquarters, the crew will empty out the vehicles, sort out all the gear and start the preparations for the next challenge, which will begin in just over a month.

Monster Energy Honda Team is looking forward to the coming races and the Rally Dakar 2020.

Source Monster Energy Honda Team official press release
To view the updated results or more information, please visit FIM's official website, here: http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/sport/cross-country-rallies/
Results under validation
1 Toby PRICE 91
3 Matthias WALKNER 75
4 Paulo GONÇALVES 71
5 Ricky BRABEC 57
6 Kévin BENAVIDES 56
7 Maciej GIEMZA 46
9 Cornejo JOSE 34
10 Adrien VAN BEVEREN 24
Results under validation
1 KTM 209
2 Honda 155
3 Husqvarna 113
4 Yamaha 51
5 Sherco 20
6 Kawasaki 4
7 Suzuki 4
Results under validation
1 Mohammed AL BALOOSHI 33
2 Mário PATRÃO 27
3 Manuel LUCCHESE 26
4 Jan BRABEC 24
5 Štefan SVITKO 20
6 Michael METGE 20
7 Juan PEDRERO 17
8 Benjamin MELOT 17
9 Adrien METGE 15
10 Sultan AL BALOOSHI 15

Monster Energy Honda Team announces the incorporation into the ranks of José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo, who becomes one of the official Honda Racing Corporation team riders.

Team HRC continues to show faith and nurture the talents of the young and promising riders who, one day soon, will turn out to be the great names in the sport. This is true in the case of Chilean rider José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo, 23 years old, who has strengthened his bond with the Monster Energy Honda Team. The adventure began back in January when the rider competed in the Dakar Rally replacing injured rider Paulo Gonçalves.

The appointment of Nacho Cornejo to substitute for Paulo Gonçalves, on his HONDA CRF450 RALLY, turned out to be a success and the Chilean rider proved to be extremely quick, surprising everyone with his rapid adaptation to both the bike and team. Cornejo finished the Dakar Rally in tenth place, the highlights of which were a fifth place in the tenth stage and a seventh spot in stage four, where he provisionally held seventh position in the general standings. With results like these and the attitude shown by the young rider, Cornejo was an obvious choice as the new official HRC rider. The agreement with the Chilean rider from Iquique, will run for three full seasons – until the end of the 2021 Dakar Rally – with his maiden race as an official rider set for the FIM World Championship Cross-Country Rallies at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

Nacho Cornejo’s role of honour includes a world title: the Cross-Country Rallies Junior Championship which he won in 2016. In 2015 he finished tenth in the Desafío Ruta 40 and the Atacama Rally. He debuted in rally competitions back in 2012 at the Desafío Inka, where he posted second place overall.

Raul Castells - Monster Energy Honda Team Manager

We are very happy to have a new team member. José Ignacio Cornejo took to the part really well, and we were pleased with him and the way that he integrated so quickly into the Monster Energy Honda Team. He’s a lad that’s easy to get on with and everyone in the team really likes him. After what he did in the Dakar, it seemed like the most natural thing to do to incorporate him into the team with the other young riders to help them grow in the sport. Let’s hope that he adapts as quickly as possible and hopefully we will be able to achieve great successes together. We wish him all the best.

José Ignacio Cornejo:

I’m really happy to have signed for the Monster Energy Honda Team as one of the HRC riders. In the Dakar I had the opportunity to enter into a great team, even though I knew it was just for the one race. Now I’m really motivated and I hope to be able to bring a lot to the team. It’s an important step for my career – something that, for a long time, I’ve been hoping for. I’m really pleased to be here as we start things off. I will give it my best shot.

Source Monster Energy Honda Team
Timo Gottschalk has become the new co-driver of Kuba Przygoński. ORLEN Team’s top competitor has gained an extremely experienced partner, who has Dakar Rally victory under his belt.

Timo Gottschalk started his rally career over 20 years ago. Alongside Nasser Al-Attiyah he managed to claim victory in the Dakar Rally 2011. In the next years he was co-driving such drivers as Sepp Wiegand, Carlos Sainz or Yazeed Al-Rajhi. Gottschalk has replaced Tom Colsoul, who together with Kuba Przygoński, achieved victory in the 2018 World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and scored 4th place in the 2019 Dakar Rally.

“Timo is a motivated co-driver and he wants to win the Dakar again, and also defend with me the World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title which I scored in the past season. His experience is important to me, but as much important is the “chemistry” between me and my co-driver. I believe that me and Timo will get along soon and achieve the most important goals. Also, I would like to say thanks to Tom Colsoul for out starts and successes together,” says Kuba Przygoński, competitor of ORLEN Team.

“I’ve been following Kuba’s performance for some time and I’m impressed by his development. He reaches good speeds, and at the same time he’s solid and he can avoid significant problems on the route, and this is very important in cross-country rally. When the moment of searching for a new driver to cooperate with appeared, Kuba was one of my most desired choices. I’m happy that I’ll be co-driving him and fighting for further trophies alongside him. I can’t wait for the first rallies with Kuba,” says Timo Gottschalk, Kuba Przygoński’s new co-driver.

The first rally for Kuba Przygoński and Timo Gottschalk together will be Qatar Cross Country Rally, which will take place on 22nd-26th February. 

Source: Press release of Orlen Team
Translation: Anna Michalska, Rita Kónya
FIA OVERALL DRIVER CLASSIFICATION after Baja Portalegre, 2018 last race.
To view other classifications, please visit FIA's official site, following this link: https://www.fia.com/events/world-cup-cross-country-rallies/season-2018/classifications​​​​​​​

1 Jakub Przygonski 0 30 42 60 42 30 21 21 30 42 0 318pts
PL POL 4 1 2 1 2 1 2 2 1 2 -
2 Martin Prokop 21 12 60 20 24 21 16 0 12 24 0 210pts
CZ CZE 2 4 1 5 4 2 3 5 4 4 -
3 Vladimir Vasilyev 16 21 32 42 32 0 30 16 16 0 0 205pts
RU RUS 3 2 3 2 3 4 1 3 3 - -
4 Nasser Saleh Al Attiya 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 60 0 90pts
QA QAT 1 - - - - - - - - 1 -
5 José Luis Pena Campo 0 0 22 14 6 3 3 5 11 6 5 75pts
ES ESP - - 7 8 12 17 27 10 7 12 18
6 Ahmed Alshegawi 0 7 10 22 0 1 5 4 3 10 0 62pts
SA SAU - 9 11 7 - 16 35 9 11 16 -
7 Joan Roma 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 30 0 0 30 60pts
ES ESP - - - - - - - 1 - - 1
= Yazeed Al-Rajhi 0 0 0 0 60 0 0 0 0 0 0 60pts
SA SAU - - - - 1 - - - - - -
9 Yasir Hamad Seaidan 10 16 0 32 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 58pts
SA SAU 5 3 - 3 - - - - - - -
10 Cyril Despres 0 0 24 0 0 0 0 0 0 32 0 56pts
AD AND - - 4 - - - - - - 3 -
11 Santiago Navarro 0 0 0 4 10 5 5 3 0 10 0 37pts
ES ESP - - - 10 11 12 25 11 - 11 -
12 Aron Domzala 0 0 0 24 0 0 12 0 0 0 0 36pts
PL POL - - - 4 - - 4 - - - -
13 Adel Hussain Abdulla 0 3 6 0 2 3 3 7 9 2 0 35pts
QA QAT 12 12 12 - 15 14 37 8 8 25 -
14 Miroslav Zapletal 0 0 0 0 0 16 0 8 10 0 0 34pts
CZ CZE - - - - - 3 - 6 5 - -
15 Claude Fournier 4 1 0 26 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 31pts
FR FRA 10 13 - 6 - - - - - - -
16 Ronan Chabot 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 20 0 20pts
FR FRA - - - - - - - - - 5 -
= Stephan Schott 0 0 20 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 20pts
DE DEU - - 5 - - - - - - - -
= Vincent Gonzalez 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 0 5 2 3 20pts
FR FRA - - 9 - - - - - 9 13 26
19 Boris Gadasin 0 0 0 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 8 18pts
RU RUS - - - - - 5 - - - - 6
= Andrey N 0 0 0 0 0 8 0 0 0 0 10 18pts
RU RUS - - - - - 6 - - - - 5
= Fernando Alvarez Castellano 6 0 0 0 0 6 6 0 0 0 0 18pts
AR ARG 7 - - - - 7 7 - - - -
22 Andrey Rudskoy 8 0 0 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 16pts
RU RUS 6 - - - 8 - - - - - -
= Victor Khoroshavtsev 0 0 0 0 16 0 0 0 0 0 0 16pts
RU RUS - - - - 6 - - - - - -
= Bernhard Ten Brinke 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 16 0 16pts
NL NLD - - - - - - - - - 6 -
25 Alexey Titov 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0 15pts
RU RUS 8 - - - - - - - - 17 -
26 Xavier Pons Puigdollers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12 0 0 0 12pts
ES ESP - - - - - - - 4 - - -
= Erik Van Loon 0 0 0 4 0 0 8 0 0 0 0 12pts
NL NLD - - - 9 - - 6 - - - -
= Denis Krotov 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 8 0 12pts
RU RUS - - - - 9 - - - - 8 -
29 Thomas Bell 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8pts
AE ARE - 6 - - - - - - - - -
= Graham Knight 0 6 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 8pts
FR FRA - 10 - - - 18 - - - - 31
31 Dmitrii Ponomarenko 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7pts
RU RUS 9 - - - - - - - - - -
32 Erik Wevers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 6pts
NL NLD - - - - - - - - - - 7
= Marat Abykayev 0 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 6pts
KZ KAZ - - - - 14 - - - - - -
34 Bruno Oliveira 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 5pts
PT PRT - - - - - - - - - - 17
35 Wang Xiang 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 4pts
CN CHN - - - - - - - 7 - - -
= Isidre Esteve Pujol 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 4pts
ES ESP - - - - - - - - - 9 -
= Patrice Garrouste 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4pts
FR FRA - - 10 - - - - - - - -
38 Yerden Shagirov 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2pts
KZ KAZ - - - - 10 - - - - - -
= Yuliya Migunova-Khegay 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2pts
RU RUS - - 17 - - - - - - - -
40 Maria Oparina 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1pts
RU RUS 13 - - - - - - - - - -
= Anders Svensson 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1pts
SE SWE - - - - - - 39 - - - -
The Monster Energy Honda Team rider Joan Barreda has been operated on in a bid to overcome a double wrist fracture.

Joan Barreda has paid a visit to the operating theatre to undergo surgery for the double fracture that led to him competing in the most recent edition of the Dakar Rally far from full-fitness. The Spanish rider competed in the race with a protection that limited the wrist movement to avoid further damage.
Prominent Doctor Xavier Mir, a traumatologist and orthopaedic surgeon, specializing in hand micro-surgery, operated on Joan Barreda with a fracture of the ulnar border of the right distal radius without consolidation and a displaced fracture of the ulnar styloid of the left wrist, In both cases, open reduction and internal fixation were performed using cannulated compression screws.
The operation took place last Thursday, February 15th at the Clinica Dexeus in Barcelona and, according to Dr. Mir, after an immobilization period of two weeks, the rider should be able to re-start recuperation and rehabilitation work by the third week.
The rider and Monster Energy Honda Team are planning the rehabilitation schedule, which once out of the way, will see the rider back on the Honda CRF450 RALLY, for various tests, plus competitions that form part of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

Source Monster Energy Honda Team official press release
Looking to the future, MRacing is preparing to adapt the team to receive the most growing trend of worldwide Cross-Country, officially launching 8 - By MRacing. The Portuguese service team of Cross-Country solutions will have a close relationship with the portuguese Can-Am importer, Milfa.

This new project wants to professionalize the service providers in the Side by Side category (SxS). The target to Manuel Russo Jr is

"to become a reference as service provider in SxS vehicles, providing to our customers a premium, personalized and professional service at a great cost."

FIA’s bet in this kind of vehicles increased the number of drivers in Cross Country. With know-how in cars, MRacing decided to set up the project 8 - By MRacing:

"We felt this was the best moment to invest in this sport. So we will try to change the game, being different than the other teams and to meet our customers demands”, he said.

As usual, MRacing will take care of all service and SxS rental, properly prepared for Cross Country events, especially international events. The team will also take care of all the logistics for it's customers, from registrations, hotel bookings and transfers.

The team is already working on the first Can-Am, in order to bring the national and international drivers to the best competitions and races around the World, such as the Merzouga Rally, Rally du Maroc, Baja Italy. The main target of the team is to be present in the Dakar 2020.

Source MRacing official press release
As the Morocco Rally finishes, so does Monster Energy Honda Team’s participation in the 2018 FIM Cross-Country World Championship and the lengthy team preparations ahead of the greatest challenge to both man and machine: the Dakar Rally. The work, however, continues.

Riders from the Monster Energy Honda Team will now get to take advantage of a few days off after the conclusion of the Morocco Rally before returning to begin fitness training and preparations for the Dakar Rally. It has been a busy third term for the squad who have juggled a packed agenda which has included the Atacama Rally, the Desafío Ruta 40, the Desafío Inca and the Morocco Rally.

After grabbing top honours in the three races held in South America, the result of the more demanding Morocco Rally proved less spectacular, yet both team and riders come away with positive conclusions. The new race organization had brought a series of changes that upped the difficulty level and complicated yet further the navigation. The race forced riders to endure five days with minimum error margins over long swathes of off-piste racing covering mainly heavily stony ground. Several falls during the race forced the team to take a more prudent approach so as to avoid major injuries.

It was precisely Paulo Gonçalves who, no sooner than entering into contention for the race, fell and was forced to opt for a more cautious finish to try and escape any serious injuries. Monster Energy Honda Team’s Portuguese rider finished fifth overall in the Morocco Rally and ended fourth in the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship table.

Ricky Brabec claimed fifth spot on the final overall world championship leader board, although the American scored an above-satisfactory result with the third place in the final race which he rounded off in style with a final stage victory in Morocco.

One of the falls that caused a retirement was that of Kevin Benavides. The Argentine Monster Energy Honda Team rider took a hard hit in the leg and although the first prognosis looked alarming, the result turned out to little more than concussion which should see the rider back to full fitness in a matter of days. Kevin finished sixth overall in this world championship.

Meanwhile young Chilean hopeful José Ignacio Cornejo, who finished ninth overall in spite of not having participated in all the events, took runner-up spot in the junior category. The rider has shown great progress both in riding and navigation. In Morocco he finished in eighth place with a best stage result of seventh spot in the first stage.

Spanish rider Joan Barreda who didn’t participate in the 2018 World Championship is now recovered from the injury and subsequent left wrist operation and is once again back in the saddle getting the sensations of the Honda CRF450 RALLY before the 2019 Dakar gets underway.

Raul Castells: Monster Energy Honda Team Manager

"It has been a very hard and difficult race. The riders liked it a lot and it was a race where the new organization, with David Castera at the helm, was successful; we must congratulate them for this new adventure. The balance for the team has had some positive parts and others not so much, such as the injury to Kevin Benavides after a fall in the first stage. Fortunately, it was not what they initially told us and soon he will be on the bike again. We also hope that Joan is better very shortly.
We are happy for Ricky's third place in Morocco, which was a hard-fought one when you consider how hard this race has been. The rest of the riders had some problems with the navigation, losing some minutes that are always very difficult to make up. The whole team has been put to the test ahead of the Dakar, to get all the machinery working at its most effective. We want to thank all the sponsors and collaborators, plus HRC and Honda who has given us such great material to be able to have an excellent motorcycle that will allow us to win and be ahead in the races. Thanks also to all the fans who support us and to whom we hope to make happy in the next big challenge: the 2019 Dakar Rally."

The calendar for the 2018 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies was confirmed:
Dates Country Race
16-18 February Russia Baja Russia-Northern Forest
10-11 March Abu Dhabi Dubai International Baja
24-29 March Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
17-22 April Qatar Qatar Cross Country Rally
27 May – 2 June Kazakhstan Rally Kazakhstan
21-24 June Italy Italian Baja
20-22 July Spain Baja España Aragόn Teruel
9-12 August Hungary Hungarian Baja
30 August – 2 September Poland Baja Poland
7-13 October Morocco Rallye Oilibya du Maroc
25-27 October Portugal Baja Portalegre 500

FIM have unveiled the FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship and FIM Bajas World Cup 2019 provisional calendars

FIM Cross-Country Rally World Championship 
30 March - 4 April --- UAEMC Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge United Arab Emirates
7 - 19 July MFR --- Silk Way Rally Russia-Mongolia-China
1 - 7 September --- FMC Atacama Rally Chile
3 – 9 October --- FRMM Rallye du Maroc Morocco

FIM Bajas World Cup 
7 - 9 March --- UAEMC Dubai International Baja United Arab Emirates
23 - 24 March --- FMP Baja Do Pinhal Portugal
26 - 28 July --- RFME Baja Aragon Spain
9 - 11 August --- MAMS Hungarian Baja Hungary

Source: FIM Communications


In the last FIA World Motor Sport Council of 2018, that took place in the past 12 of october, FIA formalized the decision to split in two different competitions the actual FIA World cup for Cross Country Rallies, giving place to the FIA International Cup for Cross Country Bajas and to a new version of the  FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.

The idea of pushing forward and strengthening the actual FIA World Cup and even turning it into a World Championship was abandoned, and the actual "co-existent" formulas of Baja and Rally will have their own separated competition.

Despite the division, FIA pretends, as they said in the press release: " to help encourage more competitors to participate and improve accessibility for young drivers."

Much likely the baja competition will be like a "training ground" for the more demanding rallies competition, allowing the drivers to have their contact with the sport, gaining knowledge and experience while at the same time gaining some trophies.  

FIA didn't present yet the schedules for this new competitions, but looking to 2018 season the races that can be part new Baja Cup are the Baja Russia Northern Forest, Italian Baja, Dubai International Baja, Baja Aragon, Hungarian Baja, Baja Poland and Baja Portalegre.  Jordan Baja, which was raced this year as a "candidate" will also likely be part of the new season. And, until the new calendar's release, there is always a possibility of some of the older events to be left out.

Looking for the new FIA IA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the Qatar Rally, Rally Kazakhstan and Rallye du Maroc could be part of the next season.  It's is not know if any new races will enter, but there are some events that could join in, like the new Turkmen Desert Race.

Hero MotoSports Team Rally, was formed in April 2016 through a strategic partnership between Hero MotoCorp Ltd. and Speedbrain GmbH, the German off-road racing specialist. Since then, the team has had an impressive run in their debut year with a stellar 12th place finish at the Dakar 2017, win at the India BAJA and 3rd place finish at Desert Storm and an enviable 100% arrival rate in all the rallies it has participated in so far.

In their 2nd year, the team is looking to expand their performance horizon, starting with the rider preparations. As a part of Hero MotoSports’ vision to promote the sport, it has started an initiative to identify new talent and nurture them into professional rally riders. The first rider under this initiative is Spanish talent, Oriol Mena Valdearcos. Oriol has over 13 years of experience in World Enduro Championship and 14 years in Spanish Enduro Championship. He has been the Enduro Junior World Champion, 2009 and has won the International Six Days Enduro, as a member of the Spanish Trophy team, in the years 2007, 2009 and 2010.

In the rally world, Oriol has done 2 rallies so far, the Sardegna Rally in Italy in June 2017, where he finished a highly impressive 2nd overall, and his debut at the Merzouga Rally in Morocco in May 2017, where he finished 12th overall, with a victory in the Stage 5 to his name. Oriol Mena has already started training with the team to prepare his participation at the Dakar 2018.

Orio Mena, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said:

“I am really excited to be a part of Hero MotoSports Team Rally. The way this team performed in the 1st year and at the Dakar was really impressive and in a way I see a lot of synergy between what I want to do and the team’s vision. I am looking forward to training with this team and racing along JRod and C S Santosh.”

Mr. Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said:

“ After the first yearwith Hero MotoSports, we are happy to have the chance to work with another promising rider, Oriol Mena, who we know since many years in the off-road sport. We think he fits very well into our structure and objectives, and would be a good addition alongside team mates JRod and CS. His inclusion will reinforce our efforts to build up Hero MotoSports with super-motivated, professional newcomers in the Rally scene.”

Dr. Markus Braunsperger, Chief Technology Officer, Hero MotoCorp Ltd said:

“We extend a warm welcome to Oriol Mena into Hero MotoSports Team Rally. He is a natural talent and offers great promise if trained well. We are very excited at the team’s prospects in upcoming rallies with another strong rider added to the mix. This initiative is a testimony of the long term vision we have drawn for the Hero MotoSports Team Rally and our continuous endeavour to keep improving our performance on all fronts. Our best wishes to Oriol for a successful career in Rally racing with Hero MotoSports.”

After several years with the two types of races - Bajas and Rallies, joint in one single competition - The FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, the governing body of world's motor sport decided to split them in two different competitions, one for each type of event.   
The renewed FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies will have 5 events , 4 that already were part of competition and a new one, which is the Turkmen Desert  Race.   
As for the Baja Competition, it will be made of 8 races.  The calendar follows a sequence of races that is not new, with the exception of the introduction of Jordan Baja in September.  As for the others, all of them are races that were already in the older version of the FIA World Cup and that now have transited to the new Baja World Cup.   The season starts as usual in Russia in February and will finish in Portugal by the end of October.

2019 FIA WORLD CUP for Cross Country – RALLIES
21-26 February Manateq Qatar Cross‐Country Rally Qatar
30 March - 04 April Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge UAE
05-11 May Turkmen Desert Race Turkmenistan
26 May - 01 June Rally Kazakhstan Kazakhstan
04-08 October Rallye du Maroc Morocco
2019 FIA WORLD CUP for Cross Country - BAJAS
14-17 February Baja Russia‐Northern Forest Russia
07-09 March Dubai Baja UAE
20-23 June Italian Baja Italy
25-28 July Baja España Aragón Spain
08-11 August Hungarian Baja Hungary
29 August - 01 September Baja Poland Poland
19-21 September Jordan Baja Jordan
24-26 October Baja Portalegre 500 Portugal

● Villas-Boas to drive a Maverick X3 in select CNTT events and Morocco’s Merzouga Rally 
● Ruben Faria to drive second Maverick X3 

Esteemed former Premier League soccer manager André Villas-Boas has reached an agreement with South Racing to tackle select rounds of his native Portuguese National Championship of Cross-Country Rallies (CNTT) and Morocco’s Merzouga Rally in April. 

The 40-year-old will drive a Can-Am Maverick X3, the same model of all-terrain vehicle that won the new SxS category at this year’s Dakar Rally in the hands of South Racing’s Reinaldo Varela. The Can-Am will carry APPACDM do Porto branding, as the project is also raising awareness for specific charities as a way of giving something back to society through motor sport. 

The former Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Zenit St. Petersburg manager has been a keen motor sport enthusiast since his youth and entered the Dakar Rally for the first time in January, only to retire early from the race in Perú with a back injury sustained in the sand dunes. 

Villas-Boas is relishing the opportunity to gain further experience in off-road motor sport, particularly in his native Portugal where the CNTT series regularly attracts strong fields. He will be co-driven by Gonçalo Magalhães, as Ruben Faria – with whom he took part in the Dakar Rally – will also be racing a South Racing Can-Am this season and will team up with navigator Pedro Velosa in the CNTT and Merzouga Rally. 

The first outing for Villas-Boas will be at the opening round of the CNTT, Baja do Pinhal, on March 16-17. This event is being organized by Escuderia de Castelo Branco and runs across the hills and through the valleys of the Oleiros, Sertã and Proença-a-Nova areas, which suffered in the wild fires last summer. 

Villas-Boas said:

“I’m very pleased to be able to be behind the wheel again after the Dakar adventure and I am looking forward to working with South Racing and Scott Abraham. His team has been extremely supportive in putting the project together. It’s a chance to work with one of the best off-road racing teams in the world and to continue to enjoy this great passion of mine. 
I hope I can contribute in the best way to South Racing and Can-Am’s expansion in the market and, at the same time, continue to raise awareness for my charities, particularly APPACDM do Porto, which continues to dignify the lives of the disabled citizen.” 

South Racing not only ran the Can-Am Team at the Dakar Rally in January, but it is also the preparations company that has a large presence in Portugal and managed a Ford Ranger for Ricardo Pórem to clinch outright victory in last year’s Portuguese National Championship of Cross-Country Rallies. It, therefore, has experience of all the rounds of the Portuguese series. 

The Merzouga Rally in Morocco will take place on April 15-20 and is a round of the prestigious Dakar Series It will be fought out over five demanding desert selective sections and will provide vital experience for Villas-Boas and the entire South Racing Can-Am team. 

Scott Abraham, managing director of South Racing, said:

“It’s a great opportunity to work with André and the complete team is looking forward to the events ahead. André is an ambassador to several charities and he is a big believer in giving back. He is also mad about anything with two and four wheels and I am sure the Can-Am Maverick X3 will keep him busy, having fun and also give him valuable seat time.” 

Villas-Boas led FC Porto to Europa League and Portuguese league and cup success in 2011 before a spell in the English Premier League. He managed Zenit St. Petersburg to further silverware in Russia before heading off to China to take charge of Shanghai SIPG in 2016. 

The Can-Am Maverick X3s are powered by 172hp 900cm³,Rotax ACE turbo-charged engines. Development work is ongoing, but the SxS category win at the 2018 Dakar Rally and several stage victories marked a terrific start to the programme. 

--- In the image, André Villas Boas on the left and Nasser Al-Attiyah on the right, inside the Toyota Hilux before the Dakar Rally 2018

Source South Racing official press release

One of the big moves of the season can be just about a few days to receive the final confirmation: According to recent news and comments, Nani Roma is going to switch cars once more, leaving behind the Toyota and returning to the driving seat of a Mini from the German team X-Raid.

Nani Roma has already won the Dakar Rally with a Mini, back in 2014, and both the team and the driver are determined to repeat it very soon, if possible already in the next edition of the world's toughest rally.

X-Raid could have offered Nani Roma special conditions to secure the return of the Catalan to their driver line-up. One of these conditions can be complete liberty to help develop the latest version of the Mini John Cooper Works to the taste of the Catalan.  X-Raid is also developing a 2WD Buggy for the rallies, but we still need to wait and see what is the decision of the team and the driver after the change in regulations that will affect this category.

As for the requests of Nani Roma, keeping his sponsor Monster Energy and his co-driver Álex Haro can be among them.

The most recent news treat the deal between X-Raid and Nani Roma as fact, with Roma already being involved in a test program to prepare for the next edition of the Dakar Rally in South America in January 2018.

Foto: Naniroma.com

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