CC American Austin Jones wins the Dakar Rally in a Can-Am Maverick
44th Dakar Rally – January 1st-14th, 2022
FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, round 1
For immediate release
Friday, January 14th, 2022
AMERICAN AUSTIN JONES WINS THE DAKAR RALLY IN A CAN-AM FACTORY SOUTH RACING MAVERICK
JEDDAH (SAUDI ARABIA): Can-Am Factory South Racing driver Austin Jones survived a scare on the penultimate stage and stormed back through the final kilometres to seal victory in the hotly contested FIA T4 category at the 44th Dakar Rally.
Jones and his Brazilian co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin led for seven of the event’s 13 timed special stages, held through the stunning and demanding deserts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But a far-from-ideal starting position and a differential issue on Thursday cost the American vital minutes and he began the last 164km section trailing Spanish team-mate Gerard Farrés by 1min 41sec.
Delays for the Spaniard on the final stage of the opening round of the new FIA World Rally-Raid Championship and a determined push by Jones was enough for the 25-year-old American to seal the win by just 2min 37sec after over 47 hours of flat-out driving in his Can-Am Maverick XRS.
A delighted Jones said: “Dakar is the ultimate test of off-road racing. Nothing else compares to it. Competing for 14 days, in Saudi Arabia’s diverse terrain, and to live out here, it’s so much harder than you think. Not only is it a test of driving, it’s a mental game. There’s a reason Dakar is considered the toughest race in the world.
“To be the youngest American to win means a lot. Winning Dakar is everything. It’s everything that you work for. All the training. All the work you put in. This is the most important race. To win the Dakar is the number one goal in rally racing.
“Having Can-Am, such a large manufacturer that builds the best SSVs in the world, and South Racing supporting and believing in me, it’s been a game changer. To be here and to have them both have my back, I couldn’t have done it without them.”
“It’s been hard. All the guys have been really fast. Everyone did really well. My navigator did a great job and the team gave me a great car and supported me every day. It doesn’t matter whether you win by a second or an hour. A win is a win.”
He duly became the third American racer to win the Dakar Rally after becoming the first American ever to become the FIA T4 World Champion in the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. Jones finished second in the SSV category in 2021 after leading four days from the finish and had been eighth overall and second rookie to the finish in 2020.
He is now a hot favourite for repeat success this season in the new FIA World Rally-Raid Championship. Father Jesse competed in off-road racing for over 20 years and has been a major driving force in the youngster’s rise through the American national ranks and on to the international stage.
Jones started strongly and was classified fourth through the opening Qualifying Stage on New Year’s Day. He then recorded the second quickest time on the first of the desert specials through the An Nafud desert, near Hail, and moved up to second overall.
He gained the outright lead as the event headed south from Hail and managed to fend off Brazilian rival Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira through stages two, three and four. Jones began the fifth stage with a lead of 4min 13sec and, despite setting the third quickest time, Luppi de Oliveira snatched a 4min 27sec lead with the fastest time.
Jones retained second place into the rest day in Riyadh on January 8th, but hit the front on the special after the restart when Luppi de Oliveira suffered time losses. The American increased his advantage to 6min 38sec after stage eight and that lead grew to 11min 54sec with two days remaining.
But he dropped 17 minutes to the stage winner on the Bisha loop stage, finished sixth and slipped to second place, his cause not helped by starting the special between two trucks and then breaking the front differential in the dunes and finishing the stage in two-wheel drive.
He managed to overturn the deficit through the final stage, however, to secure a sensational victory.
Support for the Can Am Factory South Racing Team came from Method Wheels, Tensor Tires, Motul, Bell, Jjuan Brake Systems, Lazer and OMP.
2022 Dakar Rally – FIA T4 final standings:
1. Austin Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Can-Am Factory South Racing Maverick XRS 47hr 22min 50sec
2. Gerard Farrés (ESP)/Diego Ortega Gil (ESP) Can-Am Factory South Racing Maverick XRS 47hr 25min 27sec
3. Rokas Baciuska (LTU)/Oriol Mena (ESP) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 47hr 38min 08sec
4. Marek Goczal (POL)/Lukasz Laskawiec (POL) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 47hr 39min 11sec
5. Michal Goczal (POL)/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 47hr 51min 18sec
6. Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira (BRA)/Maykel Justo (BRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 48hr 18min 34sec
7. Luis Portela Morais (PRT)/David Megre (PRT) Can-Am Maverick XRS 50hr 43min 19sec
8. Eric Abel (FRA)/Christian Manez (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS 52hr 45min 36sec
9. Joan Moreno (ESP)/Miguel Herrera (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS 53hr 20min 49sec
10. David Zille (ARG)/Sebastian Cesana (ARG) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS 53hr 38min 45sec
For further information: contact Scott Abraham, South Racing, Email: Scott.Abraham@southracing.com, Tel: + 49 172 6662880.
Facebook group: South Racing Can-Am