Will Anyone Stop Can-Am From Winning Rally Races?
Will Anyone Stop Can-Am From Winning Rally Races?
Story: Casey "Air Cordeiro"; Awesome Event Photos: MCH Photo, Can-Am
Sometimes I wonder... What is it like riding on the world's tallest sand dunes in the Middle East? My imaginative side kicks in and says, "man, it would be awesome to go ride in all of those places that we haven't been before!" Then, my practical side kicks in and tells me that it would cost a fortune just to ship the items over there, then I'd have to get everything to the riding area. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. But, I sure love the possibilities and have this as a goal for the future!
Enough with my personal vendetta to go riding in as many places as possible, let's get back to to the original point of this article – the racing!
The Can-Am Maverick X3 has been a massive success story for the manufacturer out of Canada. No matter if you like the vehicle or not, none of us can miss them lining the trails at our local riding areas, and their popularity is just as prominent on the racing scene, especially on the rally racing circuit that travels the world on multi-day racing adventures that test the limits of both man and machine on the toughest courses in the world. We're talking 200+km days that traverse terrain most of us can only imagine. Pictures do a great job of telling the story, but they just don't do the terrain or the vehicles justice.
Earlier this year, Can-Am made a splash at the annual toughest-in-the-world off-road race, commonly known as Dakar. The race takes place in South America, and like I said, it is regarded as the toughest two-week race on the planet. Not many people get the chance to compete in this race, let alone do well in it.
Drawing off of their success at Dakar this year, the South Racing Can-Am team has had the throttle to the floor as they prepared for the next race in the rally series – the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which took place earlier this week. Casey Currie, the token American on the team who has turned his Baja and KOH experience to rally racing the past couple of years, found the ultimate success at this year's event by taking the big W! He was locked in a heated battle with his teammate almost the entire race with each of them winning stages and dominating their class in purpose-built X3 vehicles. This truly shows the strength of the team and how prepared they are for the ultimate racing action in their side-by-sides.
More info on the race from Can-Am...
American Casey Currie and Brazilian Reinaldo Varela dominated the T3 category and became embroiled in an epic duel for supremacy in their Monster Energy Can-Am Maverick X3s. They eventually reached the finish in fourth and fifth in the overall classification and well clear of their rivals in the T3 category.
Currie led for four of the five days and eventually reached the finish podium at the Yas Marina race circuit in Abu Dhabi with a winning margin of 72 seconds, but Varela – the winner of the opening round in Qatar in February - won two of the specials and led by 43 seconds after the penultimate stage.
The contest started well for Currie and his French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter. They carded the fastest time on the opening selective section of 261.97km that was held in a sandstorm, where strong winds reduced visibility on the route through the first sand dunes between Abu Dhabi and the bivouac in Liwa.
The American took a lead of 68 seconds into the first of the loop stages through the towering sand dunes in the UAE’s Empty Quarter. But Varela and fellow Brazilian Gustavo Gugelmin hit back strongly with the fastest time on that 222.80km special and reduced Currie’s overall lead to just nine seconds.
Currie managed to take advantage of his favourable starting position behind his teammate to set another quickest time on the second dune loop of 297.97km, despite punishing heat and unforgiving sand, and he reached the bivouac with an increased advantage of 70 seconds.
Once again, starting positions came to the fore on the fourth stage and the last of the Liwa loop sections of 286.10km and Varela hit back strongly to claim the fastest time by 1min 53sec and claim a 43-second outright lead.
It was all to play for on the shorter final selective section of 214.47km and Currie delivered the coup de grace with the fastest time on the run back to Abu Dhabi to claim a narrow win by the margin of 72 seconds. Varela’s consolation was maintaining his outright lead in the FIA World Cup’s T3 category.
Varela said: “It was a tough day and Casey caught us on the 160km mark and we battled throughout to keep in front of him. It has been an incredibly exciting battle with these guys over the past five days and 2,000km of dunes and desert.”
Scott Abraham of the Monster Energy Can-Am Team said: “This was a dominant race for the team. Casey and Reinaldo delivered a heated battle throughout the event. It shows the pace of the two drivers to finish the race with such a close gap.
“A big thanks to all the mechanics for keeping the Mavericks in perfect condition to enable the drivers to race like they raced. Monster Energy Can-Am showed again that it continues to build upon its reputation from the Dakar. This is now the second FIA Cross-Country victory for the car and we are looking forward to Kazakhstan at the end of May.”
The Monster Energy Can-Am duo were the only drivers to finish the event in the T3 category without incurring major time penalties and they had a massive lead over the third-placed Russian Fedor Vorobyev and the rest of the chasing pack.