Motorsports Racing News & Blog Articles

Stay up-to-date with motorsports racing news, products, and trends from around the world.

Robert Stout to race Pro 4 in 2024

Robert Stout will make his début in a Pro 4 truck during the 2024 Championship Off-Road season, running a part-time schedule for Adrian Cenni Racing in the #28.

“I’ve wanted to race these trucks for over ten years. It’s the best of the best at the highest levels of the sport,” said Stout in a press release. “I have massive respect for all the players in this class but I can’t wait to battle with them.”

Although mainly a sports car driver, Stout won the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series‘ Production 1000 UTV championship in 2019 a season after claiming Rookie of the Year honours. After LOORRS’ shutdown, he switched from UTV to off-road trucks—albeit on pavement—when he entered the Stadium Super Trucks in 2021.

He scored his first of three career SST wins during his rookie season at Nashville en route to a third-place points finish. Another third came in 2022 with a win at Bristol. The two-round 2023 season saw him finish sixth but scored another victory in Race #1 at Nashville.

While SST was his main focus over the past three years, he also returned to short course by competing in the UTV-based Texas Outlaw Series.

Quad riders dismayed at category’s “extremely unfair” Dakar demise

The Dakar Rally will no longer have the Quad class in 2025 as the Amaury Sport Organisation places more focus on bikes, ending a sixteen-year run as an official category and nearly three-decade stretch with such a vehicle taking part. Needless to say, its riders are not too thrilled about having their livelihoods ripped away from them.

ASO head David Castéra confirmed the category’s removal days before the start of the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid in Portugal, a round of the World Rally-Raid Championship like the Dakar, though rumours persisted long prior on the heels of just ten quads at Dakar in January. Many like Pablo Copetti, who finished third at the 2023 edition, deemed the scarcity as manufactured by the ASO through tightened eligibility criteria that require Quad entrants to either have three W2RC starts or raced a Dakar in the past five years, neither of which are mandated for the bikes. Others pointed out that over thirty riders registered for the 2024 race, only for the group to be whittled down to ten by the new rules, and such a policy would have remained if the class remained for 2025.

After winning the first stage in Portugal, reigning Dakar Quad winner Manuel Andújar called the victory a “somewhat bittersweet feeling” due to the Dakar announcement. He blasted Castéra’s reasoning as selfish and lobbied for the FIM to take action with the hope that they could change his mind.

“It was a crucial stepping stone category during the (Dakar’s) time in South America, reaching over fifty participants when the few motorcycles couldn’t fill the starting grid,” wrote Andújar. “I believe that if it had to end, it should have been done differently or at least with respect. Gradually, they killed the category by imposing silly requirements to be part of it to the point of only allowing ten quads when there were more than thirty signed up in 2024. Riders were required to participate in several World Championship rounds to earn points and compete in Dakar 2025. They raised the budget, set off on the adventure, owed money to people, sponsors, and were CHEATED by removing the category overnight when the project was already underway.

“I started racing this event at the age of 20, a race that taught me many values as a person and rider including discipline, honour, resilience, true friendship, teamwork, and much more. This race meant so much to me that I even tattooed it on my skin. I never imagined that MONEY and the WHIMS of one person could outweigh these learned values.”

Nevada 1000 Invitational set for 2025 debut

Best In The Desert‘s premier event, the Vegas to Reno, is a 500-mile dash across Nevada’s fire and graded roads. In April 2025, the sanctioning body will double that distance with the inaugural Nevada 1000 Invitational.

Such an event will be among the longest desert races in the United States and North America as a whole, the latter joining company like SCORE International’s Baja 1000, NORRA’s Mexican 1000, and the Sonora Rally in Mexico. The Legacy Racing Association’s Baja Nevada stretches 650 miles from Mesquite to Ely across two days in June.

Although a specific date was not immediately revealed beyond the month, BITD will have to take into account SCORE’s San Felipe 250 being held in late March while the Mexican 1000 is also an April event.

In 2000, to celebrate the new millennium, BITD organised the Nevada 2000, which ran for seven days in a rally raid-style format. The race began with a qualifying prologue in Las Vegas before heading from Mesquite to Ely on the second day of racing, followed by stops in Elko, Reno, Tonopah, and back to Vegas. Larry Roeseler and Ivan Stewart of PPI Motorsports were the only multi-time stage winners but their truck finished third overall behind winner Troy Herbst and his Terrible Herbst Motorsports team, while Johnny Campbell and Tim Staab won on the bike side. Other desert racing stars who took part included the McMillin, Dean, and Myers families, Rod Hall and his son Chad Hall, and SCORE owner Roger Norman.

BITD continued long-distance racing in 2002, albeit sliced in half with the Nevada 1000 that spanned three days from Las Vegas to Ely, to Tonopah, and back to Vegas; Damen Jefferies won in a truck whereas Brian Brown and David Pearson did so on a bike. It was brought back in 2005, won by Brian Collins and Larry Ragland ahead of a then-teenaged Andy McMillin among four-wheelers and Campbell and Steve Hengeveld for two.

TRANSCRIPT: TCF Interview with Cayden MacCachren

On 3 April, The Checkered Flag sat down with Cayden MacCachren to discuss being the top UTV at the San Felipe 250 in March, the development of his Polaris Factory Racing team, and how UTV racing has grown in recent times.

The full transcript of the interview is available below. Some text has been altered from the actual dialogue to improve readability.

An article on the interview can be read here.


TCF: You ended the SCORE season last year by winning the Baja 1000 and then you begin this season by winning San Felipe. How good does it feel to have this sort of little win streak going so far?

CM: Oh yeah, it’s great. The end of the year last year, winning the 1000, obviously the biggest race in the SCORE series by far, but honestly, before the 1000 I was kind of having not so great luck. I don’t believe in luck too much but not great results; not anybody’s fault, but it just wasn’t going right for me. Going to the 1000, was able to pull one off at the biggest, baddest, longest race of the year by far was cool, but after that, I wanted to make sure that nobody thought it was a fluke. Every race I’ve gone through with the whole Polaris Factory Racing team has been all in for me and I’m trying my hardest and everybody with the team—I’m actually at the shop right now and the boys are hard at work right now on a Tuesday. Every race, I try to go and win, but after the 1000, I really wanted to make sure that my name stayed at the top. Going into San Felipe, it was the same thought and new team-mate Max Eddy was going to elevate all of our games some more.

Pablo Copetti switches to SSV for 2025 Dakar Rally

Pablo Copetti will continue to race on four wheels after the Dakar Rally killed the Quad category for 2025, albeit on the FIA side instead as he plans to enter the race in the SSV class. He will drive a Polaris RZR Pro R for TH-Trucks Team with Santiago Hansen as his co-driver.

Copetti has run the Dakar Rally on a Quad since 2010, winning seven stages across his career with three third-place finishes in 2017, 2021, and 2023. However, a lack of budget and dissatisfaction with the Amaury Sport Organisation’s new policies for Quad riders prompted him to skip the 2024 edition; he was originally considering to switch to SSV for the race but was unable to because of low funding.

Despite Quads being popular during the Dakar’s run in South America during the 2010s, decreasing manufacturer support prompted the ASO to pull the plug on the class for 2025. The final edition saw just ten riders, which Copetti and many of his peers also attribute to the ASO tightening Quad eligibility criteria by mandating those in the class to have either raced a Dakar in the past five years or enter three World Rally-Raid Championship rounds; neither requirement exists for bikes.

With their class gone, most Quad riders have also switched to racing cars with particular focus on side-by-sides. Rodolfo Guillioli, who finished runner-up in the 2023 W2RC for Quads, has become an SSV co-driver while former Dakar winners Josef Macháček and Ignacio Casale currently compete in the SSV and Challenger categories, respectively. Hansen was also a Dakar Quad racer in the 2010s before becoming a navigator.

Copetti’s Polaris RZR is built by CAP 4 Racing, who has maintained a partnership with TH-Trucks since 2023. Domingo Román raced the CAP 4/TH-Trucks Polaris in the 2024 edition but retired after seven stages. A Polaris driven by Xavier de Soultrait won the race, marking the manufacturer’s first Dakar overall victory since 2017.

Fantic offering Dakar, amateur factory-level rally packages

Want to be a factory rally raider for Fantic Motor? If you do well in October’s Rallye du Maroc and 2025 Dakar Rally, that opportunity will be presented for you in 2026.

Fantic announced Wednesday the creation of Fantic Rally Raid and Fantic Rally Xperience, which will offer factory-level assistance for participants in the aforementioned races and amateur rallies, respectively. The former will provide five mechanics and a full set of technical support, including a truck of spare parts and special bivouac benefits like physiotherapists, at the World Rally-Raid Championship‘s season opener and finale. The top Fantic Rally Raid member in both rallies will be offered a spot on the factory team for the 2026 Dakar.

The Fantic Rally Xperience provides the same services as well as bike rental, but for non-competition rallies in Italy starting with the Sterrare è Umano on 26–28 April. Fantic will also support riders at the Mille Sassi (24–26 May), Hat Pavia – Sanremo (12–14 July), Hat Sanremo – Sestriere (6–8 September), and the Transitalia Marathon (23–27 September). Such a programme is not uncommon for amateur rallies as Yamaha has operated the Ténéré Spirit Experience since 2023 at races across Europe and Africa.

Although those who already own a Fantic XEF 450 Rally are encouraged to sign up, the manufacturer will also provide six bikes for the Fantic Rally Xperience.

Fantic has fielded a rally raid division since 2022. Jane Daniels, Jeremy Miroir, and Tommaso Montanari represented the Fantic Rally Team at the 2024 Dakar Rally in January, with Miroir scoring the best finish of the trio of nineteenth in the Rally2 category. All three are primarily enduro competitors, reflecting the marque’s history as one of the top bikes in the discipline.

INTERVIEW: Cayden MacCachren highlights San Felipe 250 victory, Polaris and UTV racing

Cayden MacCachren might be the son of off-road legend Rob MacCachren, but he’s keen to blaze his own trail in the desert racing world as a member of Polaris Factory Racing.

Although still a young career, he is on the right track after not only winning the Pro UTV Open class, but being the fastest UTV outright at the legendary Baja 1000 last November. He then continued his run by repeating the feat in March’s SCORE International season-opening San Felipe 250, leading a Polaris top-five sweep.

MacCachren sat down with The Checkered Flag last Wednesday to discuss the win, life with Polaris Factory Racing, and his thoughts about the ongoing UTV renaissance.

Winning San Felipe

MacCachren entered the 2024 SCORE World Desert Championship with plenty momentum after winning the UTV overall at the 2023 Baja 1000 and finishing third in Pro UTV Open points. However, he was not complacent about his success and was highly keen to begin the new season on a strong note.

Much of this mentality stemmed from a rough start to that campaign, failing to podium across the first three races and bottoming out with a dismal fourteenth at the Baja 500. He was on the verge of winning San Felipe until the studs broke on his car just miles from the finish, though PFR team principal Craig Scanlon picked up the baton from there to win, then finished seventh at the Baja 400. Even 2024 kicked off on a rather sour note when he placed outside the UTV Open top ten at King of the Hammers in January while team-mates Brock Heger and Max Eddy Jr. finished 1–2.

GRS Team opens cross-country rally arm

Junior single-seater team Global Racing Service will expand operations to include a cross-country rally division in 2024, competing in the Spanish Cross-Country Rally Championship‘s (CERTT) T3 and T4 categories starting at this weekend’s Rally TT Jaén Mar de Olivos. Pau Navarro and team boss Josep Trinidad are named on the entry list as their drivers.

Also known as GRS Team for short, the outfit primarily competes in the F4 Spanish Championship and Eurocup-3. They finished eleventh in the 2023 F4 Spanish standings with a rotation of drivers, while Alexander Jacoby and Douwe Dedecker comprise their 2024 lineup in the series. A multi-car effort during the inaugural Eurocup-3 season ended with three runner-up finishes courtesy of Cenyu Han and Alpine Academy member Nikola Tsolov.

In February and March, GRS fielded cars for Dedecker, Bianca Bustamante, and Lia Block—herself an off-road racer—in the Spanish-based Formula Winter Series, with Dedecker scoring a podium at Ricardo Tormo. The team has also raced in the Formula 4 UAE Championship and Formula Renault Eurocup. They débuted in Spanish F4 in 2018.

Trinidad and Navarro will race Can-Am Maverick X3 cars with Manuel Navarro Dominguez and Fausto Mota as navigators, respectively.

Navarro typically races in the World Rally-Raid Championship, driving a Can-Am in the SSV (then T4) class during the 2022 and 2023 seasons with a win at the 2022 Andalucía Rally. He moved up to the Ultimate category for the 2024 Dakar Rally, where he retired after a crash. Although the latest W2RC round, last week’s BP Ultimate Rally-Raid, took place in Spain and Portugal, Navarro opted to skip it and enter the Rallye Sierra Morena. Conversely, Mota and Manuel Navarro both competed in the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid, the former finishing second in SSV as the navigator for Ricardo Ramilo while the latter and Ultimate driver Jose Luis Garcia retired.

2024 BP Ultimate Rally-Raid: From The Checkered Flag’s Newsroom

For the first time since the inaugural season in 2022, the World Rally-Raid Championship raced in Europe as the inaugural BP Ultimate Rally-Raid took the series from Portugal to Spain and back.

Missed any of our daily stories? We’ve got you covered below.

Pre-race stories

9 June 2023: W2RC to add Iberian round in 20249 October 2023: Road to Dakar returns for 202429 December 2023: BP Ultimate Rally Raid to run through Alentejo, Ribatejo, Extremadura26 January: TCF‘s 2024 Dakar Rally newsroom5 March: TCF‘s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge newsroom7 March: 1,827 kilometres from Portugal to Spain and back19 March: Mathieu Baumel joins Guerlain Chicherit for Portugal19 March: Toby Price, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing part ways20 March: Funding woes prevent Sara Price from racing rest of W2RC, to return in Morocco20 March: José Ignacio Cornejo departs Monster Energy Honda21 March: ParaBaja Step by Step celebrating 10-year anniversary by supporting full CERTT, W2RC23 March: João Ferreira to race Mini at BP Ultimate Rally-Raid23 March: Joaquim Rodrigues stepping away from racing26 March: 169 on entry list2 April: Sponsor obligations sideline Ricky Brabec2 April: Andreas Hölzl: Budget, media factor into KTM’s W2RC absence3 April: ASO pulls plug on Quads for 2025 Dakar Rally

Mid-race stories

5 April: Audi withdraws W2RC appeal, back on hook for fine

Stage winners

StageDateOverall Cars WinnerOverall Bikes WinnerRecap
Prologue3 AprilNasser Al-AttiyahTosha SchareinaRecap
Stage #13 AprilGuerlain ChicheritTosha SchareinaRecap
Stage #24 AprilNasser Al-AttiyahSebastian BühlerRecap
Stage #35 AprilNasser Al-AttiyahTosha SchareinaRecap
Stage #46 AprilYazeed Al-RajhiAntónio Maio*Recap
Stage #57 AprilLucas MoraesAdrien Van BeverenRecap
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Overall winners

Ultimate201Nasser Al-AttiyahNasser Racing10:02:57Recap
Challenger300Rokas BaciuškaCan-Am Factory Team10:23:30Recap
SSV405João Monteiro*South Racing Can-Am10:50:31Recap
Stock500Carlos Jorge Mendes*Carlos Jorge Mendes21:37:32Recap
RallyGP68Tosha SchareinaMonster Energy Honda Rally Team10:01:15Recap
Rally240Bruno Santos*Momento TT Motos10:11:42Recap
Junior Trophy69Edgar Canet*Xraids Experience10:38:23Recap
Veteran Trophy32David Casteu*David Casteu11:16:15Recap
Rally350Gonçalo Amaral*Gonçalo Amaral11:13:57Recap
Quad177Kamil WiśniewskiORLEN Team12:05:22Recap
Open700Johan Senders*Johan Senders11:59:20Recap
National706Bernardo Sousa* #Benimoto Racing3:11:51Recap
# – Race ended after Stage #2

Peugeot Unveil 2024 FIA WEC Contender

Peugeot TotalEnergies have unveiled their upgraded Peugeot 9X8 which will compete in the Hypercar class for the remaining rounds of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). The upgrade includes a new livery, new tyre widths, and 90% of the bodywork being modified, most noticeably including a new rear wing.

The 2024 Peugeot 9X8 with that new rear wing. Credit: Stellantis / Peugeot Sport

When the Peugeot 9X8 arrived on the WEC stage in 2022, all eyes were drawn to its unique shape, missing as it did a rear wing. After a mixed season in 2023, the car’s final outing was at the 2024 Qatar 1812km. With the car’s design so heavily biased towards flat, open, fast circuits, the car performed well, battling for second position until disaster struck on the penultimate lap of the ten hour long race.

With regulation changes taking effect since the car’s debut, the potential to explore more performance has opened up. “Strictly speaking, it’s not a new car,” explained Olivier Jansonnie, Peugeot Sport Technical Director, “as it has the same chassis, but there are a lot of upgrades.”

Credit: Stellantis / Peugeot Sport

The team has switched from 31cm tyre widths on all tyres to 29cm width front tyres and 34cm width rear tyres, bringing them more in line with other Hypercar teams. “For the tyres to work effectively, we had to alter the centre of gravity of the Peugeot 9X8, which meant moving certain components and working making others lighter” Jansonnie explained. “And in order to have a better aerodynamic balance, we also had to look at redistributing the aerodynamic loads, which resulted in us redesigning approximately 90% of the bodywork components, most notably adding the rear wing.”

Thanks to its distinctive front end and air intake over the cockpit, the new 9X8 is still recognisably the Peugeot Hypercar. The car’s striking new livery features the lion head emblem of the French marque in different shapes and colours. Matthias Hossann, Peugeot Brand Design Director, explained that “this graphic design, symbolising a ‘pack of lions’, conveys the sense of collective that reflects the values of Endurance racing perfectly. We wanted to highlight this team spirit and the wealth of talent in the team.”

2024 BP Ultimate Rally-Raid: Carlos Jorge Mendes, Johan Senders complete race in Stock, Open

Carlos Jorge Mendes and Johan Senders were the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid‘s only entrants in the Stock and Open categories, respectively, meaning their only competition were the forests of Portugal and Spain and any mechanical gremlins that strike their vehicles. While the latter certainly happened a bit more than either would like, they were able to complete the race in the end.

Both cars started at the back behind the other FIA classes and ahead of the non-World Rally-Raid Championship National category, the latter run in tandem with the Portuguese Cross Country Championship. While they were able to complete the Prologue before damage done to the course forced the leg to be cancelled for National, the challenges quickly accumulated from there. Neither of them nor the National entrants were able to complete Stage #2 due to poor track conditions caused by heavy rain and those who raced before them, and estimated times were assigned for Mendes and Senders.

Mendes, nicknamed “Cajó”, and his navigator Rui Silva finished second in the CPTT’s T2 class, which ended its race after two stages, before joining the rest of the W2RC for the final three. Ironically, although rally raids are unforgiving for Stock vehicles and their Isuzu D-Max had gotten stuck during the early stages, they were able to complete the longest day in Stage #3 without major issue save for doing the last eighty kilometres with rear-wheel drive. By the end, Mendes’ total time was good for forty-seventh among all FIA cars.

“Mission accomplished. We faced an excellently organised race, with excellent stages marked by a variety of surfaces, with a large audience that never moved from the first to the last vehicle,” Mendes told AutoLook. “It was five unforgettable days with a lot of work, but we also had a lot of fun.”

Senders, a Dutchman and CPTT regular, and his Toyota Hilux set a final time fast enough to rank thirtieth in FIA. The Hilux is eligible for CPTT competition in the T8 category, but does not meet the FIA’s regulations for Ultimate (T1) or Stock (T2), forcing him to enter it into the Open class for vehicles outside specs. It was the first time a W2RC round had Open entries in 2024 and the fourth since the championship’s formation after the 2022 and 2023 Rallyes du Maroc and 2022 Andalucía Rally.

2024 BP Ultimate Rally-Raid: Kamil Wisniewski fends off CFMOTOs for first Quad win

After winning the Dakar Rally in the Quad category, Manuel Andújar was on track to go two-for-two in the 2024 World Rally-Raid Championship as he won the first four legs at the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid and led by over twenty-one minutes at the halfway mark.

A broken driveshaft ended any hopes of that.

Andújar was forced to retire from the fourth and penultimate stage when his driveshaft came loose while leading by three minutes with less than seventy kilometres to go. After losing twenty minutes whilst making repairs, he rejoined the stage and tried to make up the ground before crashing into a stopped bike. Even winning Stage #5 was not enough as he finished fourth overall.

Kamil Wiśniewski inherited both the Stage #4 and overall lead following Andújar’s problems. While Mikołaj Krysik ultimately won that leg for his maiden W2RC stage victory, he was too far back to catch the leaders entering the final day; much of his deficit was incurred on the first stage when he suffered a suspension failure while jumping into water, followed by a roll that damaged the navigation tower.

Wiśniewski faced pressure from the CFMOTO Thunder Racing Team duo of Antanas Kanopkinas and Gaëtan Martinez, both of whom trailed by identical margins of two minutes and twenty-eight seconds going into Stage #5. Unlike at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, his Yamaha Raptor did not let him down this time as he built a six-minute margin on the CFORCE 1000s, beating Kanopkinas by 5:49 and Martinez by 6:19.

2024 BP Ultimate Rally-Raid: Amaral brothers complete clean sweep of Rally3

Gonçalo Amaral and his older brother Salvador Amaral turned the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid‘s Rally3 class into the Amarally3 class as they finished 1–2 across all five stages.

Regulars in the Portuguese Cross Country Championship, Gonçalo and Salvador kept pace within each other throughout the race, with the former scoring three stage wins and the Prologue to the latter’s two. Gonçalo set the early edge as he cleared Salvador by fifteen and six-and-a-half minutes in Stages #1 and #2, respectively before Salvador returned the favour during the longest day with almost twelve minutes on him in Stage #3. The final two legs saw closer margins within a minute, though their classmates were still a long distance back.

Although Rally3 is the lowest bike class for adapted enduro and production bikes, Gonçalo’s Prologue time was still good to place him top ten overall for the leg. The two were also the only Rally3 riders with top twenty FIM times regardless of category with Gonçalo in seventeenth and Salvador three places back.

By the end, the younger Amaral beat Big Brother by under ten minutes but had over an hour and a half on third-placed Pedro Bianchi Prata. Bianchi, the reigning FIM Bajas World Cup Veterans Trophy winner, was in a hole from the beginning when the bike’s fuel injector broke during Stage #1, causing him to finish second-to-last in class and forty-four minutes back. He quickly made up the lost ground to pass everyone but the Amarals by Stage #3, and spent the second half of the rally duelling John Medina for the last podium spot. Despite crashing into a river crossing in Stage #4, Bianchi cleared Medina by seven minutes on the final leg for third.

“It was a very well-organised race by ACP (Automóvel Club de Portugal),” said Bianchi. “The routes in the Grândola and Santigo do Cacém are spectacular and the whole of Mação with difficult navigation was epic, then we went to Spain where the stage was quite hard with rocks and very technical and we came back on the sand of Grândola. It was five hard but unforgettable days.

2024 BP Ultimate Rally-Raid: Bruno Santos the home country hero in Rally2

Twice Portuguese Cross Country Champion and reigning Baja Portalegre 500 winner Bruno Santos brought more than just his A-game when the World Rally-Raid Championship came knocking on his door for the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid. Defending his turf like there was no tomorrow, he topped the Rally2 class with four stage victories and over twenty-one minutes on points-earning riders Bradley Cox and Romain Dumontier.

Cox initially drew first blood by beating every bike, including those in the premier RallyGP category, in Stage #1 until he received a twenty-minute penalty for leaving the neutralisation zone between Selective Sections too soon. Prologue winner Edgar Canet also made the same mistake, costing him twelve minutes and his early advantage.

Santos inherited the stage win as a result, but proved it was no fluke as he won the next three legs. He narrowly beat Cox by twenty-two seconds for the Stage #2 victory, then dropped a nearly eight-minute advantage in the third leg to lead by seventeen. A fourth win in Stage #4 made the margin an almost insurmountable 20:49 over Canet barring a retirement on the last day.

With such a big advantage, Santos was able to take the final day easier yet he still recorded a podium as he finished third and only a minute behind Dumontier. The overall adds to an increasingly impressive international rally raid résumé; after having to abort his Dakar Rally début in 2022 due to injury, he re-earned his eligibility for the 2024 race after finishing fifth in class in his maiden W2RC start at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, then was the second-best rookie at Dakar in sixteenth.

“Several of my idols were in this race. I could hardly contain my excitement to realise that I was able to fight second by second over several days with these legends,” wrote Santos, who called the race “an astonishing week of competition”. “I know that I am probably at the peak of my sporting career right now, but let’s continue to push a little further, climbing the steps within our reach!”

2024 BP Ultimate Rally-Raid: Joao Monteiro wins SSV on home soil

João Monteiro is a two-time Portuguese Cross Country Champion, the reigning FIM European Bajas SSV champion, and was the best-finishing rookie at the Dakar Rally in January when he finished thirteenth in the Challenger class. When the World Rally-Raid Championship arrived in Portugal for the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid, he was more than ready to defend his home turf.

Usually a tyre manager for South Racing Can-Am, he represented the team well as he won the SSV category by leading the overall and finishing on the podium in all five stages. On his worst day in Stage #4, he made an error that caused him to lose a minute but still finished third and just a minute behind stage winner Ricardo Ramilo.

His first and second in the first two stages also earned him the T4 win on the CPTT side, held in conjunction with the W2RC. The win continues a streak of SSV race winners who are not registered for the W2RC, joining Xavier de Soultrait (Dakar Rally) and Mansour Al-Helei (Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge).

“We enter each race with the goal of winning, but when it comes to a World Championship race, everything becomes even more special,” wrote Monteiro. “I want to express my gratitude to the team for the excellent car they provided me, ready to face each stage. A huge thank you to my sponsors, whose support was essential for us to be here. To my family, who has always been by my side, and to the warmth and unconditional support of all the fans throughout these days, my sincere thanks.

“I am really happy!”