- South Racing-built Can-Ams finish first and second in T3 lightweight prototype class
- South Racing-built Can-Ams secure top eight places in FIA T4 category
- Team enters 20 cars and is represented by 28 nationalities at the 45th Dakar Rally
The South Racing Can-Am Team enjoyed its busiest ever Dakar Rally and South Racing-built Can-Ams won the FIA T3 and T4 categories and dominated the leader boards in both classes at the finish in Dammam on Monday.
American racer Austin Jones entered the history books for becoming the youngest driver to win back-to-back Dakars, after the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BF Goodrich driver added the T3 title to the T4 success he earned last year in another South Racing-built car.
Eighteen-year-old rookie Eryk Goczal also created a little bit of history by becoming the youngest ever Dakar stage winner during the first week’s action. But that was a mere dress rehearsal for the celebrations that occurred when the Energylandia Rally Team driver secured the outright T4 title on the final stage in his South Racing-run car.
The young Pole had pushed Red Bull Can-Am driver Rokas Baciuška all the way since his rival snatched the lead on stage seven and held it until the final day. But, when the Lithuanian hit trouble on the final stage in his South Racing-built car, Goczal was there to pounce and he added a Dakar title to a total of four stage wins. He now leads the W2RC’s T4 standings by seven points after the opening round.
Even more delight for the Goczal family came when Eryk’s father Marek and co-driver Maciej Marton managed to pass Baciuška to secure second overall, only for a two-minute penalty to push the Polish theme park owner back down to third place.
At the finish, an emotional young Goczal said: “I finished my first Dakar. I cannot be more grateful for the moment. I made the decision to go with my family to fight for the first position. The risk may not have paid off today and we had some trouble on the way but we gave it our best shot and we won. It is an amazing feeling.”
Behind Jones and his Red Bull-backed colleagues, Seth Quintero, Cristina Gutiérrez and Francisco López, who finished second, fourth and fifth in T3 in South Racing-built cars, South Racing Can-Am Team crews featured extensively down the general classification.
The South African duo of Geoff Minitt and Gerhard Snyman enjoyed their best Dakar finish in 12th overall, while Dutch female driver Anya van Loon teamed up with Ukraine’s Dmytro Tsyro to reach Dammam in 14th.
Mashael Al-Obaidan flew the Saudi flag proudly alongside Italian co-driver Paulo Ceci to come home in 24th and António Marmolejo made the long trip from Colombia worthwhile by securing a 25th-placed finish with Argentina’s Ariel Jaton.
Continuing the truly international and cosmopolitan nature of the South Racing Can-Am Team, the Portuguese duo of Helder Rodrigues and Gonçalo Reis put early delays behind them to finish 27th. Dania Akeel and her Uruguayan navigator Sergio Lafuente lost time with accident damage before the rest day in Riyadh but recovered well to be classified in 28th and ninth of the crews registered for W2RC T3 points.
Argentina’s David Zille and Sebastien Cesana managed to win the ninth stage outright on their way to 30th overall, while Chile’s Lucas del Rio and his Argentinian co-driver Bruno Jacomy brought up the rear of the T3 field in 38th. The only non-finishers were the 2022 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas T3 champion Fernando Alvarez and his French co-driver Xavier Panseri. They retired with technical issues before the rest day.
Across the T3 and T4 categories, the South Racing Can-Am Team was represented by 20 cars and 28 nationalities, including both men and women and participants from three generations.
Behind the battle between Goczal, Baciuška and the winner’s father Marek, South Racing Can-Ams dominated the top eight in the T4 rankings.
The Argentinian pairing of Jeremías Ferioli and Pedro Rinaldi won the eighth stage en route to a fine fourth overall, the duo passing the fifth-placed Spanish duo of Gerard Farrés and Diego Ortego late in the rally after the former biker had suffered overheating issues on stage 11.
Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira made a superb start to his Dakar challenge and the Brazilian led for three days before he and Maykel Justo dropped back to eventually finish 29th. His son faired much better, however, and consistent performances netted Bruno Conti de Oliveira and Pedro Prata sixth place in T4.
Marek Goczal’s brother Michal teamed up with fellow Pole Szymon Gospodarczyk to win the 12th stage and finish seventh after earlier delays had cost them any chance of challenging for the podium. Equador’s Sebastien Guayasamin and his Argentine co-driver Ricardo Torlaschi came home in a solid eighth.
Outside the top 10, Australian rallying all-rounder Molly Taylor and former factory motorcycle rider Andrew Short teamed up to finish 12th and the Dutch crew of Gert-Jan van der Valk and Branco de Lange were 15th.
Saudi driver Yasir Seaidan narrowly missed out on stage wins on several occasions with co-driver Alexei Kuzmich but enjoyed the recent transition from racing in T1 to adjusting his driving style to a T4 Can-Am. He finished 23rd, while stage three winner Cristiano Batista and his co-driver Fausto Moto were 32rd.
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.
45th Dakar Rally – FIA T3 standings:
1. Austin Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Red Bull Off-Road Junior Can-Am Maverick X3 51hr 55min 53sec
2. Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (DEU) Red Bull Off-Road Junior Can-Am Maverick X3 52hr 47min 58sec
3. Guillaume de Mévius (BEL)/François Cazalet (FRA) GRallyteam OT3
4. Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP)/Pablo Moreno Huete (ESP) Red Bull Can-Am Factory Maverick X3 54hr 52min 13sec
5. Francisco Lopez (CHL)/Oriol Mena (ESP) Red Bull Can-Am Factory Maverick X3
6. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/João Pedro Ré (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3
7. Ebenhaezer Basson (ZAF)/Bertus Leander Pienaar (ZAF) GRallyteam OT3
8. Hans Weijs (NLD)/Rudolf Meijer (NLD) Arcane T3
9. Santiago Navarro (ESP)/Adrien Metge (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3
10. Ignacio Casale (CHL)/Alvaro Leon (CHL) Yamaha YXZ 1000 R
13. Geoff Minnitt (ZAF)/Gerhard Snyman (ZAF) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 62hr 58min 07sec
14. Anya van Loon (NLD)/Dmytro Tsyro (UKR) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 63hr 29mn 30sec
24. Mashael Al-Obaidan (SAU)/Paulo Ceci (ITA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 80hr 42min 21sec
25. António Marmolejo (COL)/Ariel Jaton (ARG) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 81hr 27min 34sec
27. Helder Rodrigues (PRT)/Gonçalo Reis (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 87hr 14min 12sec
28. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 87hr 39min 22sec
30. David Zille (ARG)/Sebastien Cesana (ARG) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 92hr 01min 18sec
38. Lucas Del Rio (CHL)/Bruno Jacomy (ARG) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3
Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 RETIRED
Source South Racing