• South Racing Can-Am Team’s De Sousa Batista wins FIA World Cup T4 Championship
  • South Racing’s Alvarez confirms third in FIA World Cup Drivers’ Championship with T3 win

DUBAI (UAE): Three members of the Polish Goczal family, driving a trio of South Racing-built and run Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbos, made a little bit of motor sporting history in the UAE when they secured the top three places in the overall standings at the Dubai International Baja, the final round of the 2022 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.

The three Can-Ams ran under the Energylandia Rally Team banner, with the Polish trio of Marek, Michal, and Eryk Goczal driving alongside their respective navigators, Pole Maciej Marton, Frenchman François Cazalet and Spaniard Oriol Mena.

They dominated the T4 category in Dubai, with young Eryk finishing 49 seconds ahead on his desert debut to claim outright victory from Michal and Marek Goczal. It was the first time in history that three T4 cars had filled the top three positions on a major event in the FIA calendar and were a testament to the competitiveness of the Can-Am over demanding desert terrain.

A triumphant Eryk Goczal said: “This was the first stage of my life. I must say I was a little bit scared to start. Everybody say it was going to be really difficult. Nobody said it would be so much fun. We did a great job and had no margin for mistakes in the navigation. This is just preparation for the Dakar…”

Meanwhile, South Racing Can-Am Team’s Cristiano de Sousa Batista pipped team-mate Meshari Al-Thefiri to the T4 Championship title, as South Racing Can-Ams filled the top six places in the class in Dubai.

De Sousa Batista and Al-Thefiri were separated by just one point at the start of the final two-day event through Dubai’s Al Qudra desert. Al-Thefiri and his co-driver Oriol Vidal managed to finish fourth and claim more points but it was not enough to displace his sixth-placed rival, co-driven by Fausto Moto, from the top of the standings when dropped scores were taken into account. Dutchman Kees Koolen came home in fifth with fellow countryman Wouter Rosegaar reading the road book.

De Sousa said: “It was a tough year. We could not go to Jordan but there were many races and many hours on a ‘plane from Brazil to the races and many hours of work. This weekend in Dubai was good and we were much better in the dunes today. It was a good experience for the Dakar.”

Fernando Alvarez had already clinched the T3 Championship in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and the Spaniard again teamed up with French co-driver Xavier Panseri to confirm third overall in the Drivers’ Championship by finishing seventh overall and first in T3 in his Conarpesa-backed Can-Am.

Alvarez said: “It was a good final day without any problems and we are third overall in all the cars in the championship. We are really happy about this. Now we go and wait for Dakar. I go back to Argentina and then all the way back to Bologna for the FIA ceremony to collect my trophy!”

Saudi Arabia’s Dania Akeel finished second overall in the T3 Championship behind Alvarez and benefitted from the navigational skills of Uruguay’s Sergio Lafuente to finish ninth overall and second in T3 in the UAE.  

Akeel’s fellow Saudi Mashael Al-Obaidan was partnered by Italy’s Paulo Ceci and finished fourth after first-day suspension damage, while Dutch lady Anja van Loon and Ukraine’s Dmytro Tsyro were fifth.

Eduard Pons and Mónica Plaza Vasquez incurred a fistful of time penalties on the final day but reached the finish in their T4 South Racing Can-Am, while the Spanish duo of Antonio Marmolejo and Ariel Jaton teamed up in a fifth South Racing Can-Am entered in the FIA T4 section and finished down the rankings in eighth after on-stage delays.

The South Racing Can-Am Team completed the grand slam of four titles by also winning the FIA World Cup Teams’ and T4 titles.

South Racing Can-Am Team’s Scott Abraham said: “Finally we get to the end of the season in Dubai and a great location in Dubai Festival City. It was another strong result for the team. It has been a long season for everyone with ups and downs along the way. In the end, we were able to take home the T3 World Cup with Fernando and the T4 World Cup. It has been a hard-fought year and a big thanks go out to all our team and our drivers for putting their trust in us over the course of the season.”

As it happened

Alvarez and Michal Goczal topped the times in their respective T3 and T4 categories through the opening selective section of 194.40km that started from the town of Al-Lisaili on the Dubai to Al Ain highway and crossed demanding terrain in the surrounding Al Qudra desert.

Alvarez pipped Akeel by 75 seconds to the T3 advantage until he later incurred 15 minutes of time penalties for missing a route waypoint, while Goczal headed a family 1-2-3 from Eryk and Marek and headed towards the night halt with an unofficial lead of 5min 35sec. Al-Obaidan incurred time penalties after damaging her suspension on the stage.

Alvarez said: “It was more difficult than we expected. It was nice and we did well. The only problem was that we broke the belt and had to stop to change it. The broken one was difficult to take off. We lost some time there. Tomorrow, the same stage in reverse.”

Koolen and Al-Thefiri were separated by just three seconds in the tussle for fourth but the Kuwaiti held the advantage over De Sousa Batista in the tussle for the FIA T4 title and led the Brazilian by 27 minutes.

Several drivers were later handed time back late on Friday evening as a result of delayed restarts from the refueling point and this actually gifted young Eryk Goczal the outright lead with Marek moving ahead of his brother in the standings.

The second stage of 195.98km headed out in a reverse of the day before to finish at Al-Lisaili. As the Goczal trio battled it out for overall T4 honors and De Sousa Batista eyed the overall title, Alvarez managed to beat Akeel to T3 honors when his time penalty was rescinded by race officials.

Remarkably, Michal and Eryk Goczal tied to the second on the stage with times of 3hr 48min 58sec and Eryk had done enough to claim a stunning victory from Michal and Marek.

The South Racing Can-Am Team received valuable support for the 2022 race program from Method Wheels, Tensor Tires, Motul, Bell, Jjuan Brake Systems, Lazer, and OMP.

The next stop for the team is the grueling Dakar Rally, the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, with 22 cars at the start of January.

Dubai International Baja – FIA T3 standings:

  1. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3                         7hr 35min 30sec
  2. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3                              7hr 45min 15sec
  3. Thomas Bell (ARE)/Gerardus Schutte (ZAF) Can-Am Maverick X3                                                8hr 18min 54sec
  4. Mashael Al-Obaidan (SAU)/Paulo Ceci (ITA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3                         11hr 36min 16sec
  5. Anja van Loon (NLD)/Dmytro Tsyro (UKR) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3                              11hr 46min 42sec
  6. Alliyyah Koloc (ARE)/Stéphane Duplé (FRA) Buggyra Can-Am DV21                                             18hr 49min 51sec
  7. Teo Calvet (FRA)/Taye Perry (DEU) Buggyra Can-Am DV21                                                         20hr 07min 08sec
  8. Geoff Minnitt (ZAF)/Pedro Santos (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3                                                      22hr 52min 28sec
  9. Hamed Al-Harbi (SAU)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Can-Am Maverick X3                                              39hr 04min 46sec
  10. Khalid Al-Jafla (ARE/Andrei Rudnitski (RUS) Can-Am Maverick X3                                                40hr 06min 35sec

Dubai International Baja – FIA T4 standings:

  1. Eryk Goczal (POL)/Oriol Mena (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo                                           6hr 58min 44sec
  2. Michal Goczal (POL)/François Cazalet (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo                                6hr 59min 33sec
  3. Marek Goczal (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo                                    7hr 00min 13sec
  4. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo          7hr 35min 48sec
  5. Kees Koolen (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo          7hr 45min 31sec
  6. Cristiano Batista (BRA)/Fausto Mota (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo          8hr 27min 49sec
  7. Camelia Liparoti (ITA)/Taye Perry (DEU) Yamaha YXZ 1000R                                                   8hr 55min 00sec
  8. Antonio Marmolejo (ESP)/Ariel Jaton (ESP) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo          12hr 35min 30sec
  9. Eduard Pons (ESP)/Mónica Plaza Vasquez (ESP) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo       45hr 12min 35sec

Egidijus Valeiša (LTU)/ Mindaugas Varža (LTU) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo                             RETIRED


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