ADDC 2023: South Racing-Built Can-Ams win the T3 and T4 categories at Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

ADDC 2023: South Racing-Built Can-Ams win the T3 and T4 categories at Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

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Seth Quintero and Rokas Bakiuška lead FIA W2RC T3 and T4 championships
South Racing Can-Am Team’s Garces and Anya van Loon finish third and seventh in T3

South Racing-built Can-Ams secured impressive victories in both the FIA T3 and T4 categories at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the six-day second round of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) that reached its conclusion in Abu Dhabi on Friday afternoon.

The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA duo of Seth Quintero and Austin Jones finished first and second in the T3 section for lightweight prototype four-wheel drive machines in their Can-Am Mavericks and third and eighth in the general classification. They are now separated by six points and hold first and second position in the W2RC T3 standings after two rounds.

South Racing Can-Am Team’s Hernan Garces teamed up with fellow Chilean Juan Pablo Latrach to round off the podium places.

Rokas Baciuška and his Spanish navigator Oriol Vidal led the FIA T4 category from start-to-finish in a Red Bull-backed factory team Can-Am prepared by South Racing. The Lithuanian won the Prologue and the first and third selective sections to seal victory by 12min 03sec from the Emirati crew of Mansour Al-Helai and Mohammed Al-Hamri. Baciuška duly moved 48 points ahead of Eryk Goczal in the W2RC T4 points’ standings.

Eugenio Amos and Paulo Ceci suffered timed delays early in the race and failed to start the final stage in their South Racing Can-Am.

Further down the T3 rankings, the all-female Dutch crew of Anya van Loon and Annefloor Maten came home in an impressive seventh place.

Eduardo Pons returned to action with Monica Plaza to finish 12th, although the result could have been much better for the Spanish crew had they not broken the front-left hand suspension on stage two, dropped substantial time and incurred 8hr 35min of time penalties.

Dutchman Erik van Loon and French co-driver Sebastien Delaunay plummeted down the leader board after technical issues on the opening desert stage. They recovered well to finish 13th.

Sweden’s Tim Marklund joined forces with Alexei Kuzmich to race a Can-Am with South Racing for the first time. He was running strongly until trouble struck on the third stage and he was handed 17 hours of time penalties. He failed to complete the final stage and time penalties dropped him to 15th.

Official Team Audi Sport works driver and former DTM and rallycross champion Mattias Ekström teamed up with South Racing to gain more experience in the dunes with co-driver Emil Bergkvist.

After winning the Prologue and running out of fuel on the first stage, the Swede was fastest in T3 on stage two and then suffered engine issues on the subsequent stage. He was fastest overall on SS4, only to be awarded a 50-hour penalty for changing the engine block the previous evening. The Swede eventually finished at the rear of the field after finishing second on the final stage.

Dania Akeel and her new German co-driver Taya Perry began the event cautiously and were running as high as fourth in the T3 W2RC classification after the penultimate stage. They failed to finish the event after a technical issue with the car.

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As it happened

The 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge had been extensively changed by the Emirates Motor Sports Organisation (EMSO), with the start and all pre-event formalities moved from Yas Marina to the ADNOC Energy Business Centre in Abu Dhabi.
From there, the entire event moved west to Al-Dhannah City (formerly known as Al-Ruwais) for the ceremonial start and Prologue, before competitors tackled five revised selective sections in the remote Empty Quarter
Quintero topped the T3 times on the seven-kilometre Prologue stage in his South Racing-built Can-Am on a sandy stage where Van Loon was seventh, Ekström came home in eighth, Pons was 10th and Garces was 14th.
In T4, Baciuška set the quickest time in his South Racing-built Can-Am and held 12th overall. Amos was classified in fourth.
The opening selective section of 242km had been extensively changed as well and ran between a start to the south of Al-Dhannah City and the finish to the west of the Qasr Al-Sarab bivouac, near Liwa, in the Rub Al-Khali.
Quintero continued his winning ways in T3 to lead the category by 7min 48sec from Jones, while Garces was the leading South Racing Can-Am driver in third place. Akeel held sixth but Erik van Loon lost a lot of time with problems on the stage and incurred hefty time penalties that pushed him to the foot of the leader board. Ekström also lost an hour on the stage after running out of fuel.
Baciuška was again the class of the T4 field and extended his advantage over Pau Navarro by just under four minutes. Amos came home third in the category.
The subsequent 257km selective section started to the north of Liwa and headed across valleys and tricky dune ranges, skirting the Shah oilfield and the town of Hameem before heading back to the bivouac Qasr Al-Sarab. Broken dunes were prevalent and a high sun with the lack of shadows made it even more difficult to see hidden dangers in the sand.
Ekström bounced back strongly from the first desert stage disappointment to beat Quintero and Jones to the fastest time in T3 and the fourth quickest of all the cars. Pons was in the wars with front left suspension damage and sustained hefty time penalties after failing to finish the stage, while Garces was fifth to hold third overall and Marklund came home in ninth.

Ekström said: “My first day was not so good. We ran out of fuel roughly 50km before the refuelling and we lost a good day there and it was quite a long time before we found a jerry can and got some fuel from a fan. The second stage went good. We had no technical issues just a U-turn two times as a waypoint. In this heat we also had to take care of the temperature of the car. I think the speed of the T1 and the T3 in the dunes is very similar but the visibility is less in the T1. I feel more confident and understand more how to drive.”

Baciuška was the first of the registered W2RC drivers in T4 to complete the stage, although the Lithuanian finished behind local driver Mansour Al-Helai and maintained a lead of 9min 17sec over Navarro. Amos completed the day in sixth.
The third stage looped through the desert and dunes near Qasr Al-Sarab and ran for 265.32km. Ekström stopped with engine issues after 66km on a desert stage held in punishing heat where Mitch Guthrie claimed the stage win, Quintero retained his outright lead and Garces consolidated third overall with the sixth quickest time.
Baciuška topped the times in T4 again and the defending World Champion increased his advantage over Navarro to 18min 04sec. Amos dropped back with technical issues and a bucketful of time penalties.
The fourth stage was scheduled to be the longest of the event but weather conditions dictated that it would be reduced to 173.27km and started two hours later than scheduled.
Ekström had incurred a 50-hour penalty for an overnight engine block change on his Can-Am but the Swede rewarded the mechanics’ hard work with the fastest T3 time on a desert stage where Quintero took a cushion of 28min 49sec over Jones into the final day and Garces consolidated third place in his South Racing Can-Am. Akeel climbed a place to eighth and Anja van Loon rounded off the top 10. Unfortunately, Ekström’s penalty was imposed after the stage and cost him the day’s win.
Mansour Al-Helai pipped Baciuška to the T4 stage win but the Lithuanian led the category by 14min 50sec heading into the last morning.
The start of the last stage was delayed by 90 minutes because of morning fog. But it failed to stop Quintero and Baciuška from sealing victories in their respective T3 and T4 categories and Garces confirming the last step on the T3 podium.
The South Racing Can-Am Team received valuable support for the race programme from Method Wheels, Tensor Tires, Motul, Bell, Jjuan Brake Systems, Lazer and OMP.
The South Racing Can-Am Team returns to action at the Qatar International Baja, round two of the FIA World and Middle East Cups for Cross-Country Bajas, on March 15th-18th.

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – FIA T3 final standings:
1. Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (DEU) Red Bull Off-Road Junior Can-Am Maverick X3 16hr 58min 31sec
2. Austin Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Red Bull Off-Road Junior Can-Am Maverick X3 17hr 26min 16sec
3. Hernan Garces (CHL)/Juan Pablo Latrach (CHL) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 17hr 54min 59sec*
4. Lionel Baud (FRA)/Lucie Baud (FRA) G Rally Team OT3 18hr 26min 29sec*
5. Aliyyah Koloc (ARE)/Stéphane Duple (FRA) Buggyra Can-Am DV21 19hr 20min 09sec

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – FIA T4 final standings:
1. Rokas Baciuška (LTU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Red Bull Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 17hr 25min 47sec
2. Mansour Al-Helai (ARE)/Mohammed Al-Hamri (ARE) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 17hr 37min 50sec*
3. Pau Navarro (ESP)/François Cazalet (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 17hr 51min 47sec
4. Abdullah Al-Rawahi (OMN)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 21hr 39min 07sec*
5. Enrico Gaspari (ITA)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Polaris RZR Pro R23hr 09min 46sec*


Source South Racing

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