CC Overdrive Racing's Yazeed Al-Rajhi wins every stage to secure Italian Baja triumph
Italian Baja 2022
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 3
July 7-10, 2022
OVERDRIVE RACING’S AL-RAJHI WINS EVERY STAGE TO SECURE ITALIAN BAJA TRIUMPH
PORDENONE (ITALY) – Sunday, July 10: Overdrive Racing’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and co-driver Michael Orr won each of the four competitive sections of Italian Baja 2022 to secure a comfortable victory on the third round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
The Argentinean duo of Juan Cruz Yacopini and Matias Acosta finished 18th overall in a second Toyota Hilux after rolling and losing just under 40 minutes on the final stage. Yacopini had been running in the top three earlier in the rally.
Al-Rajhi was able to err on the side of caution to conserve his Toyota on the demanding selective sections held across the flood plains, rocky river beds and forest areas of north-eastern Italy and the Saudi reached the finish 5min 06.7sec ahead of his closest Portuguese rival João Ferreira. The success marked his third career win at the event after topping the podium with Timo Gottschalk in 2014 and taking victory with Orr last year.
The Saudi said: “We are very happy to win here again. We opened the road and had a good lead overnight and we just had another safe drive on the last stage and will take maximum points for the championship and that’s the main thing.”
Orr added: “The car has been fantastic. The guys brought us a brand new car here and we had zero problems. Thanks to Overdrive and all the mechanics and engineers for doing such a good job.”
A Qualifying Stage of 14.30km kick-started the action between San Martino al Tagliamento and Valvasone late on Friday afternoon. Al-Rajhi laid down the gauntlet from the outset, the Saudi clocking the fastest time of 10min 07.1sec to take a lead of 20.8 seconds over Lithuania’s Benediktas Vanagas into the night halt. Yacopini carded the third quickest time and was 31.6 seconds adrift of his team-mate.
Two passes through a revised selective section of 112.48km between Zoppola and Dignano made up the itinerary for Saturday. Al-Rajhi was again the class of the field and claimed the stage win by 1min 45.1sec from Portugal’s João Ferreira to extend his lead to 2min 17sec. Yacopini again came home with the third quickest time to retain a similar position in the rankings.
Al-Rajhi’s co-driver Michael Orr said: “It was a good drive with no mistakes. We didn’t attack a lot. There was no need to. The car was working good. Now we have a good feeling for the repeat of the stage in the afternoon.”
Al-Rajhi managed to beat Ferreira by 1min 29sec on the second pass through the Zoppola stage and reached the night halt with a lead of 3min 46sec. Yacopini was classified in fifth on the stage and dropped down to sixth in the general classification.
A fourth stage success on the final 115.09km section enabled Al-Rajhi to confirm the win but Yacopini came home in 22nd to finish 18th overall after time delays following his accident.
Overdrive Racing now heads to the punishing heat of central Spain for the next round of the series in two weeks.
Italian Baja 2022 – final results:
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 4hr 23min 01.0sec
2. João Ferreira (PRT)/David Monteiro (PRT) Mini JCW Rally 4hr 28min 07.7sec
3. Cristiano de Sousa (BRA)/Wladimir Grunenberg (BRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS (T4) 4hr 45min 32.1sec
4. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Hummer H3 Evo 4hr 46min 03.9sec
5. Amerigo Ventura (ITA)/Mirko Brun (ITA) Yamaha YXZ 1000R (T4) 4hr 50min 30.2sec
6. Kees Koolen (NLD)/Paulo Ceci (ITA) Can-Am Maverick XRS (T4) 4hr 51min 17.4sec
7. Edgar Lima Condenso (PRT)/Carlos Silva (PRT) Ford Ranger EXR05 Proto 4hr 53min 08.0sec
8. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS (T3) 4hr 53min 17.5sec
9. Santiago Navarro (ESP)/Marc Sola (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS (T3) 4hr 58min 47.2sec
10. Eduard Pons (ESP)/Oriol Mena (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS (T4) 5hr 01min 09.2sec
18. Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Matias Acosta (ARG) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 5hr 32min 00.1sec
For further information:
Jean-Marc Fortin (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), Overdrive S.A., rue de L’Enterprise 1, 4530 Villers-le-Bouillet, Belgium, Tel: + 32 475 762 391. www.overdriveracing.be, Facebook: Overdrive Racing, Twitter: @OverdriveToyota