World Rally-Raid Championship

36 priority drivers for 2024 FIA cross-country season

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Credit: Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

Thirty-six will have priority driver status from the FIA for the 2024 season when they compete in the World Rally-Raid Championship or any of the three Baja Cups (World, European, Middle East).

Priority status is available those who registered for the 2023 W2RC, which earns them points in the championship, with Silver as the minimum while Gold and Platinum are higher tiers for more achievements during the two years of the W2RC’s existence.

There are now six drivers with the top Platinum priority, which is handed out to Dakar Rally winners in the past five years and the top three in the 2022 or 2023 W2RC. The same quintet from last season retain their statuses, while Juan Cruz Yacopini now has the designation after finishing third behind Nasser Al-Attiyah and Yazeed Al-Rajhi in the 2023 standings.

Eighteen drivers have Gold classification, which they earned by either winning a W2RC round, a Dakar Rally between 2014 and 2018, or finishing top five at Dakar between 2019 and 2023. The lattermost caveat allows five-time bike champion Cyril Despres to maintain Gold eligibility despite not having raced at Dakar since 2021, having finished fifth overall in the 2019 edition.

New for 2024, champions of the side-by-side T3 and T4 classes (now respectively Challenger and SSV) have been promoted to Gold status, meaning Seth Quintero and Rokas Baciuška are now become Gold drivers. Francisco Lopéz Contardo, the 2022 T3 champion, already had the classification. On the other hand, with the elimination of the T5 Truck championship after 2023, its competitors are no longer eligible for priority status, a case also shared with Stock/T2.

A dozen drivers are grouped under Silver. Those who have not raced in the W2RC but placed top three in any of the three Baja Cups are also categorised here such as Khaled Ahmed Alferaihi, Khaled Ahmed Alferaihi, and Hamad Al-Harbi (Middle East Cup); and Krzysztof Hołowczyc, Ghislain de Mévius, and Tiago Reis (European Cup). Al-Attiyah, Al-Rajhi, and W2RC full-timer João Ferreira, the overall podium for the Baja World Cup, already have higher priority.

The priority system is a fairly similar model to those used in the FIA’s sports car series like the World Endurance Champinship, grouping drivers by their recent qualifications. Priority drivers have various rules that do not apply to those without the label, such as being required to provide their own suspension travel measurement tool set to scrutineers if they compete in a T1.U or T1+ car. Platinum and Gold drivers in Ultimate must also submit their tyre compositions to the FIA twelve weeks before a race.

On the other hand, priority drivers receive preference in the starting order for the next stage as part of a new rule change. The FIA intends to allow Ultimate cars to start ahead of other classes regardless of their finish the previous day, with higher priority first in line among cars whose times are slower than 115% of the winner’s.

2024 FIA priority drivers

StatusDriver2023 category
PlatinumNasser Al-AttiyahT1
PlatinumYazeed Al-RajhiT1
PlatinumSébastien LoebT1
PlatinumStéphane PeterhanselT1
PlatinumCarlos SainzT1
PlatinumJuan Cruz YacopiniT1
GoldRokas BaciuškaT3, T4
GoldGuerlain ChicheritT1
GoldGiniel de VilliersT1
GoldCyril DespresN/A
GoldMattias EkströmT1, T3
GoldJoão FerreiraT3, T4
GoldSebastián HalpernT1
GoldDenis KrotovT1
GoldHenk LateganT1
GoldFrancisco Lopéz ContardoT3
GoldLucas MoraesT1
GoldMartin ProkopT1
GoldJakub PrzygońskiT1
GoldSeth QuinteroT3
GoldNani RomaT1
GoldMathieu SerradoriT1
GoldOrlando TerranovaT1
GoldVaidotas ŽalaT1
SilverSalem AldhafeeriT4
SilverKhaled Ahmed AlferaihiT1
SilverHamad Al-HarbiT3
SilverGhislain de MéviusT3
SilverEryk GoczałT3, T4
SilverMarek GoczałT3, T4
SilverMitch GuthrieT3
SilverCristina GutiérrezT3
SilverKrzysztof HołowczycT1
SilverAustin JonesT3
SilverTiago ReisT1
SilverShinsuke UmedaT4
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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