CC South Racing's Lopez and Luppi de Oliveira hold rest day leads in T3 and T4 categories at the Dakar Rally

44th Dakar Rally – January 1st-14th, 2022
FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, round 1

For immediate release
Saturday, January 8th, 2022


• South Racing Can-Ams dominate both the FIA T3 and T4 categories on Dakar
• Jones and Farrés head Can-Am Factory South Racing Team in second and fourth
• South Racing Middle East’s Dania Akeel enjoys Dakar debut to hold sixth in T3

RIYADH (SAUDI ARABIA): South Racing Can-Ams held outright leads in both the FIA T3 and T4 categories in the Dakar Rally, when the opening round of the new FIA World Rally-Raid Championship reached its traditional rest day in Riyadh.

In fact, South Racing Can-Ams had completely dominated the upper reaches of the top 10 all week in the T4 section and were classified first, second and fourth overall in T3, despite fierce competition from a number of other international teams.

Chilean driver Francesco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez and team-mate Sebastian Eriksson held solid first and second positions in the T3 section for lightweight prototype vehicles in their EKS-South Racing Can-Ams and Spain’s Fernando Alvarez was fourth. Lopez’s and navigator Juan Pablo Vinagre’s lead over their Swedish colleague and his Dutch co-driver Wouter Rosegaar was 23min 09sec at the rest day.

“I broke the differential and lost time at the end of the last stage,” said Lopez. “But I’m still happy. I’m leading the general rankings after one week, so it’s perfect. For the rest of the rally I’m going to treat it as if I was starting again from scratch, but with a lead of over 20 minutes!”

Also running strongly in the T3 category on her first Dakar was Saudi Arabia’s Dania Akeel. She climbed through the field during the first week and reached Riyadh in a an excellent sixth position at the helm of the first of three South Racing Middle East-run Can-Ams. Team-mates, Thomas Bell and Mashael Al-Obaidan, were classified in 14th and 19th of the 48 drivers who started out from Jeddah on New Year’s Day.

Brazilian driver Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira and American racer Austin Jones – the T4 World Champion in the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – became embroiled in a fascinating tussle at the top of the T4 standings. Luppi claimed a stage win on his way to a 6min 56sec advantage over Jones at the rest day.

“It’s my first Dakar and I am happy with it,” said Luppi de Oliveira. “I’m still learning how to drive in the dunes. I’ve only driven them in Abu Dhabi and Morocco to prepare for the Dakar. We’ve driven tidily and I can be happy about reaching the rest day at the top of the general rankings. We are going to continue at this pace and keep looking after the car.”

Both Marek and Michal Goczal won five stages between them in their Cobant-Energylandia Rally Team Can-Ams, built and run by South Racing. But niggling little time losses on subsequent specials meant that the Polish brothers reached the rest day in sixth and third positions, respectively.

“Hopefully we can make up the lost time next week,” said Marek Goczal. “It may be difficult but we are planning to have fun and win some stages. We don’t have any option now. We have to push to the last day at our maximum.”

Spain’s Gerard Farrés delivered a solid first week to hold fourth in the second of the Can-Am Factory South Racing Mavericks and Lithuania’s young Rokas Baciuska was classified fifth in his South Racing machine.

Can-Am Factory South Racing’s Molly Taylor and Aron Domzala were outside the top 10 after a challenging week that saw the Pole claim a stage win but spend several hours implanted in sand into nightfall with a damaged car after a frontal impact. The duo were classified in 18th and 26th at the rest day.

Chile’s Lucas Del Rio and Americo Aliaga were just outside the top 10 in 11th and it was a strong start for the Dutch crew of Gert-Jan van der Valk and Branco de Lange. They were 14th overall, two places ahead of South Racing’s Argentine duo of David Zille and Sebastian Cesana.

Ukraine’s Ievgen Kovalevych teamed up with fellow countryman Dmytro Tsyro to hold 22nd and South Africa’s Geoff Minnitt and Siegfried Rousseau brought up the rear of the South Racing Can-Am line-up in 47th.

South Racing Can-Am Team’s Scott Abraham said: “This was a great start to Dakar 2022 for the team. It was a strong first week in both T3 and T4 categories with Can-Ams leading convincingly. For sure, it’s going to be a hectic and hard-fought second week, especially with the T4 category pretty much open to anyone.

“It has been a monumental effort from all the team. We have 160 people here and 28 nationalities and it has been quite a logistical challenge. Everyone has come together and it has been a great result. We had a good rest day but four days in Riyadh was a bit unconventional. It gave us a lot more time to relax and work things out. We are all looking forward to the second week where we hope to bring Can-Ams to the podium in Jeddah!”

South Racing - race facts and figures

Including both competitive and liaison distances, each of the 19 drivers had completed 4,443km in their Can-Am Mavericks by the end of stage six. Added together, that equates to the equivalent of travelling two times around the earth.

The team has also consumed 21,099 litres of gasoline (excluding support vehicles) to complete the stages and liaisons. Gasoline costs around 2.23 Riyals (0.59 USD) per litre in Saudi Arabia.

The team has used close to 798 Method race wheels and Tensor tyres, combining daily maintenance and an allowance for punctures.

Since the beginning of the race, South Racing staff (160 team members) have consumed 5,000 litres of water, 4,320 expressos and 2,880 hot meals from our on-site catering service.

Jeddah to Riyadh - as it happened

Lopez and Eriksson moved up to second and third places in the FIA T3 section after the 333.18km second part of stage one through the An Nafud desert, near Hail, on January 2nd. The Chilean trailed early leader Seth Quintero by 1min 58sec as the rally headed across flooded tracks en route to Al-Qaisumah on January 3rd.

The Goczal brothers lost their T4 advantage on the first of the desert selective sections and Domzala and Jones hit the front in their Can-Am Factory South Racing machines, the Pole heading the American by 1min 58sec. Luppi de Oliveira, Farrés and Michal Goczal came home in third, fourth and fifth positions. First day leader Marek Goczal dropped an hour and slipped to 11th.

Heavy rain and flooding forced rally officials to move the finish of stage two (338.43km) to the bivouac at Al-Qaisumah, thus preventing organisers from running the planned first half of a Marathon stage to Al-Artawiyah.

It was a good stage for South Racing with Lopez finishing second in the T3 section to move 7min 22sec clear of Eriksson in the overall standings and Jones hitting the front in T4, followed by Michal Goczal and Luppi de Oliveira. Domzala ceded 40 minutes to his team-mate and slipped to sixth, as Michal Goczal claimed the T4 stage win.

The Goczal brothers finished first and second on the loop stage around Al-Qaisumah, where Jones finished fourth and was able to extend his advantage over Luppi de Oliveira to 5min 23sec. Farrés moved up to third in T4 and Lopez extended his T3 lead over Eriksson to 9min 09sec with the second fastest time on the special.

The longest stage of the event featured a challenging 464.76km of desert between Al-Qaisumah and Riyadh. Lopez maintained a T3 lead of 20min 59sec over Eriksson with the third quickest time. Alvarez climbed to fourth overall and it was also a good special for Bell: the Briton brought his South Racing Middle East Can-Am home in fifth.

Luppi de Oliveira continued to impress to finish second behind Michal Goczal and the Brazilian reduced Jones’s outright lead to 4min 13sec. Michal Goczal held third overall from Farrés and Baciuska. Delays in the sand plagued Domzala and cost the Pole a potential stage win.

Luppi de Oliveira continued his impressive form to claim victory on the fifth Riyadh loop stage and he earned the outright T4 lead for the first time. The Brazilian beat Marek Goczal to the win by 2min 33sec and moved 4min 27sec in front of Jones, who was fourth on the special.

Eriksson and Lopez finished second and third on the day in T3, with the Chilean seeing his advantage over his Swedish team-mate trimmed to 20min 16sec. Alvarez retained fourth and another impressive time by Akeel saw her move into the top six for the first time.

Lopez and Eriksson drove sensibly to conserve their first and second places in T3 through the last stage of the week, despite the Chilean breaking a differential. Alvarez hung on to fourth, with Akeel in a fine sixth and Bell and Al-Obaidan outside the top 10.

Marek Goczal won the T4 special and held sixth at the rest day, but Luppi de Oliveira also delivered a strong performance to take a lead of 6min 56sec over Jones into the second week.

The second half of the 44th Dakar Rally features six selective sections that wind their way deep into the southern sections of Saudi Arabia before turning west, via bivouacs and loop stages around Wadi Ad Dawasir and Bisha, to reach the Red Sea city of Jeddah for the ceremonial finish on January 14th.

Support for the South Racing Can-Am Team comes from Method Wheels, Tensor Tires, Motul, Bell, Jjuan Brake Systems, Lazer and OMP.

2022 Dakar Rally – FIA T3 standings (rest day):
1. Francisco Lopez (CHL)/Juan Pablo Vinagre (CHL) EKS- South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 24hr 19min 17sec
2. Sebastien Eriksson (SWE)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) EKS-South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 24hr 42min 26sec
3. Cristina Gutierrez (ESP)/François Cazalet (FRA) Overdrive OT3 26hr 39min 33sec
4. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 26hr 44min 39sec
5. Philippe Pichedez (FRA)/Thomas Gaidella (FRA) Can-Am Maverick T3RR 26hr 49min 41sec
6. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) South Racing ME Can-Am Maverick XRS 28hr 34min 42sec
7. Santiago Navarro (ESP)/Marc Sola (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 28hr 43min 53sec
8. Pavel Lebedev (RUS)/Kirill Shubin (RUS) Can-Am Maverick 29hr 01min 17sec
9. Camelia Liparoti (ITA)/Xavier Blanco (ESP) Yamaha YXZ 1000 R 29hr 03min 28sec
10. Josef Machacek (CZE)/Pavel Vyoral (CZE) Buggyra Can-Am DV21 29hr 53min 31sec
14. Thomas Bell (GBR)/Bruno Jacomy (ITA) South Racing ME Can-Am Maverick XRS 30hr 38min 15sec
19. Mashael Al-Obaidan (SAU)/Jacopo Cerruti (ITA) South Racing ME Can-Am Maverick XRS 32hr 26min 52sec

2022 Dakar Rally – FIA T4 standings (rest day):
1. Rodrigo de Oliveira Luppi (BRA)/Maykel Justo (BRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 25hr 04min 01sec
2. Austin Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Can-Am Factory South Racing Maverick XRS 25hr 10min 57sec
3. Michal Goczal (POL)/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) Can-Am Maverick XRS 25hr 32min 07sec
4. Gerard Farrés (ESP)/Diego Ortega Gil (ESP) Can-Am Factory South Racing Maverick XRS 25hr 33min 09sec
5. Rokas Bacisuka (LTU)/Oriol Mena (ESP) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 25hr 50min 27sec
6. Marek Goczal (POL)/Lukasz Laskawiec (POL) Can-Am Maverick XRS 26hr 05min 06sec
7. Jérôme de Sadeleer (CHE)/Michael Metge (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS 27hr 31min 57sec
8. Sergei Kariakin (RAF)/Anton Vlasiuk (RAF) Can-Am Maverick 27hr 32min 52sec
9. Luis Portela Morais (PRT)/David Megre (PRT) Can-Am Maverick XRS 28hr 02min 58sec
10. Joan Moreno (ESP)/Miguel Herrera (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS 28hr 20min 07sec
11. Lucas Del Rio (CHL)/Americo Aliaga (CHL) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 28hr 22min 40sec
14. Gert-Jan van der Valk (NLD)/Branco de Lange (NLD) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 29hr 43min 10sec
16. David Zille (ARG)/Sebastian Cesana (ARG) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 29hr 57min 23sec
18. Molly Taylor (AUS)/Dale Moscatt (AUS) Can-Am Factory South Racing Maverick XRS 30hr 06min 15sec
22. Ievgen Kovalevych (UKR)/Dmytro Tsyro (UKR) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 30hr 20min 35sec
26. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Can-Am Factory South Racing Maverick XRS 31hr 56min 53sec
47. Geoff Minnitt (ZAF)/Siegfried Rousseau (ZAF) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 113hr 13min 53sec


For further information: contact Scott Abraham, South Racing, Email: Scott.Abraham@southracing.com, Tel: + 49 172 6662880.

Facebook group: South Racing Can-Am









Date issued: 08/01/2022

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