South Racing Can-Am Team Mavericks seal four of top five places in T3 category at Saudi Baja-Hail

04.02.2023: 2023 Saudi Baja-Ha’il (February 2nd-4th, 2023) FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 1 Saturday, February 4th, 2023 • Yasir Seaidan seals maximum points in FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas


2023 Saudi Baja-Ha’il (February 2nd-4th, 2023)      
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 1
Saturday, February 4th, 2023




•    Yasir Seaidan seals maximum points in FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas


•    Defending FIA T4 champion Cristiano Batista recovers from crash to win final stage



South Racing Can-Am Team Mavericks filled four of the top five places in the FIA T3 lightweight prototype category at the Saudi Baja-Hail, round one of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, with local driver Yasir Seaidan missing out on victory by just nine seconds and having the consolation of topping the standings in the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.



The South Racing Can-Am Team entered six Mavericks in the FIA T3 section and two in T4. Five of the T3 machines filled second, third, fourth, fifth and 10th in the final classification.



Yasir Seaidan teamed up with Alexei Kuzmich and led the T3 category after the first selective section of 230km that was held in bright, chilly conditions in the An Nafud desert, near Hail.



 But a couple of costly navigational errors on the second stage proved expensive for the Saudi and he was pipped to overall T3 glory by fellow countryman Saleh Al-Saif by just nine seconds. His consolation was a fine fifth place in the overall classification and the lead in the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.



“We were unlucky,” said Seaidan. “We lost our way in one part and we lost three minutes and a half. Then we pushed and took two minutes but we finished second by nine seconds!”



Defending FIA T3 World Cup Bajas champion Fernando Alvarez again teamed up with French co-driver Xavier Panseri to finish sixth overall and third in the T3 category. The Conarpesa-backed driver said: “It was good for us. We were third in the category but Seaidan is competing in the national championships and we will get the points for the second. Saif is a strong local driver, so I think this was the best result we could get here. I am happy for that.”



Last year’s championship runner-up Dania Akeel recruited the services of French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter again and delivered another impressive performance to reach the finish in eighth overall and fourth in T3.



She said: “We finished. I had a great time and it was a fun race with a lot of dunes, bumps and fast places. It was really similar to last year’s round but it looked completely different. It was green in places. Last year it was raining and dark.”



Brazilian Otavio Sousa and Portuguese co-driver João Ferreira rounded off the overall top 10 and were fifth in T3 in their South Racing Can-Am.



Spaniard Diego Martinez and Uruguayan team-mate Sergio Lafuente managed to reach the finish in their T3 car, but fuel pump issues side lined Meshari Al-Thefiri and Oriol Vidal after day one.



In T4, Brazil’s Cristiano de Sousa Batista and Portugal’s Fausto Moto blotted their copybook after a crash on stage one. They were penalised heavily for the time delay and trying to finish the stage on three wheels but the defending FIA T4 Bajas champion had the consolation of setting the fastest time on the last stage.  



Saeed Al-Mouri’s Can-Am was struck by a rock on the first stage and the impact shattered the car’s windscreen. With tiny shards of glass affecting the Saudi’s vision, he and Jordanian co-driver Ata Al-Hmoud did not finish the day’s action and incurred time penalties. But they recovered well on Saturday to finish eighth in T4 without a windscreen, as they bid for success in the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship and the FIA Middle East Cup.



Competitive action got underway with a Prologue stage that was extended from three-kilometres to 4.08km. South Racing-built Can-Ams filled five places in the overall top 10, with Batista topping the T4 section in third overall, ahead of fellow countryman Otavio Sousa, who held fourth place and second in T3. Kuwait’s Al-Thefiri rounded off the top three in the T3 classification.



The first of two selective sections through the neighbouring deserts started at Jubbah and ran for 230km in chilly conditions to the west of Hail across rolling desert, gravel tracks and some sand dunes.



Al-Thefiri hit technical trouble before the stage, The Kuwaiti said: “After service, we started the road section and, after 25km, the fuel pump died. After 10km, the spare one also died and we came back. We find some connector problem and we didn’t have the parts and, once we had fixed it, it was too late.”



Prologue winner Batista dropped over 35 minutes after rolling on the stage, with young Spaniard Pau Navarro snatching the outright T4 lead.



In T3, Seaidan drove one of the best stages of his career to snatch the category lead and third overall. He returned to Hail clear of Al-Saif, Alvarez and Akeel, the latter benefitting from a revised set-up on her Can-Am.



“It was a good stage, the best ever,” said Seaidan. “We were fast from the beginning and we continued pushing to the end. We didn’t have the top speed but it was a good day and a good start to the Middle East programme.”



While Seaidan and Al-Saif battled for victory in T3, several crews concentrated on overcoming the tricky navigation in the final stage. Batista managed to set the quickest time in T4, but Seaidan missed out on the overall win and Akeel earned the second quickest T3 time of the day behind Al-Saif.



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



The FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas continues in Qatar in mid-March, while the team’s immediate attention switches to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, round two of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, at the end of the month.










Saudi Baja-Ha’il – FIA T3 standings:



1. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Can-Am Maverick X3                4hr 33min 28sec

2. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Alexei Kuzmich (ARE) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3        4hr 33min 37sec

3. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3        4hr 39min 59sec

4. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3        4hr 42min 49sec

5. Otavio Sousa (BRA)/João Ferreira (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3            4hr 43min 47sec

6. Santiago Navarro (ESP)/Adrien Metge (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3                4hr 44min 14sec

7. Kees Koolen (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) G Rally Team OT3                4hr 44min 30sec

8. Hamed Al-Harbi (SAU)/Dmytro Tsyro (UKR) Can-Am Maverick X3                5hr 05min 06sec

9. Abdullah Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Waleed Al-Shegawi (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3            5hr 17min 31sec

10. Diego Martinez (ESP)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3        6hr 31min 48sec

Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3            DNF






Saudi Baja-Hail – FIA T4 standings:




1. Pau Navarro (ESP)/Michael Metge (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo             4hr 47min 35sec

2. Jeremie Warnia (FRA)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Polaris RXR Pro R                4hr 43min 32sec

3. Michele Cinotto (ITA)/Maurizio Dominella (ITA) Polaris RXR Pro R                4hr 54min 53sec

4. Ricardo Ramilo Suarez (ESP)/Andrei Rudnitskiy (ANA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo        4hr 55min 45sec

5. Salem Al-Dhafeeri (KWT)/Arif Yousef Mohammed (ARE) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo        6hr 05min 06sec

6. Maha Al-Hameli (SAY)/Annie Seel (SWE) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo            6hr 11min 49sec

7. Luis Maria Henderson (ARG)/Juan Carlos Carignani (ITA) Polaris RXR Pro R            6hr 23min 38sec

8. Saeed Al-Mouri (SAU)/Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo     11hr 14min 32sec

9. Cristiano Batista (BRA)/Fausto Mota (PRT) South Racing Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo     14hr 08min 37sec





- Neil Perkins, photos SAMF




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04.02.2023 / MaP

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