World Rally-Raid Championship

2023 W2RC, FIA cross-country champions honoured in Azerbaijan

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Credit: Frederic Le Floc'h/DPPI

The top three in the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship, along with the fourteen champions of the other W2RC classes and FIA Cross-Country Bajas, were recognised in Baku at the FIA Prize Giving Ceremony.

On Friday, the W2RC podium finishers each took the stage alongside the champions of other major series including Formula One and the World Rally Championship for the main gala. The Bajas winners were celebrated as part of the Rally and Circuit Prize Giving the following day.

Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel headlined the rally raid trio for the second year in a row, having also claimed the inaugural W2RC in 2022. The pair won three races in 2023 starting with the legendary Dakar Rally, followed by the Sonora Rally and Desafío Ruta 40.

“We are so happy to come back to defend the world title,” said Al-Attiyah. “You know that cross-country is really not easy. We started from Dakar to defend our winning, and then we competed in the four bigger races in the world. In Abu Dhabi, we started with a bad moment, we had a big crash and we were a little bit injured, but then we came back very strong and won all the races. Nice to be here again. We worked very hard and we are so happy.”

Their Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ was also on stage to represent Toyota Gazoo Racing winning the manufacturer’s championship; Toyota Motor Europe’s vice president Andrea Carlucci accepted the award. The title was a parting gift from Al-Attiyah and Baumel, who departed TGR after the season for Prodrive.

The Hilux won all five rounds in 2023, with Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk claiming the other two at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and season-ending Rallye du Maroc. They finished twenty-four points behind Al-Attiyah to settle for runner-up. Al-Rajhi had raced at Dakar with Dirk von Zitzewitz as his co-driver before Gottschalk, who did the opener in the Toyota of Lucas Moraes, teamed up with him for the rest of the season.

Juan Cruz Yacopini and his navigator Daniel Oliveira finished third in the championship with podiums in the final two races. With Prodrive’s Sébastien Loeb not racing Argentina, Yacopini leapfrogged him for third to complete a Hilux podium sweep of the outright championship.

Al-Attiyah and Baumel were also honoured for winning the FIA World Cup for Cross-County Bajas and Middle East Rally Championship, beating Al-Rajhi in the former as well with five wins; Yacopini finished fourth in the World Cup.

“It was an amazing season, a great championship with a fantastic car and one for pilot and friends, so thank you Nasser for that,” Baumel remarked.

The T1 category (renamed Ultimate in 2024) does not have its own class-specific W2RC trophy like T3 (Challenger), T4 (SSV), and T5 (Truck). T3 champions Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz, T4’s Rokas Baciuška and Oriol Vidal, and T5’s Janus van Kasteren, Darek Rodewald, and Marcel Snijders each won those. Quintero, set to move to T1 in 2024, won the T3 title after a frantic battle that came down to the final race, while Baciuška dominated the season in T4 and clinched the championship before the penultimate round. Van Kasteren won at Dakar en route to claiming the final T5 trophy.

Otávio Sousa Leite and Cristiano De Sousa Batista accepted the T3 and T4 trophies in the Bajas World Cup, while Khaled Ahmed Alferaihi and Sébastien Delaunay did so as the champion driver and co-driver in the Middle East Cup. Krzysztof Hołowczyc and Łukasz Kurzeja were honoured as European Cup champs.

The FIA’s two-wheeled counterpart FIM held its awards ceremony last week in Liverpool, where Luciano Benavides was celebrated as the W2RC champion in RallyGP.

2023 FIA cross-country champions at the Prize Giving Ceremony

World Rally-Raid Championship for DriversNasser Al-Attiyah
World Rally-Raid Championship for Co-DriversMathieu Baumel
World Rally-Raid Championship for ManufacturersToyota Gazoo Racing (represented by Andrea Carlucci)
World Rally-Raid Championship for T3 DriversSeth Quintero
World Rally-Raid Championship for T3 Co-DriversDennis Zenz
World Rally-Raid Championship for T4 DriversRokas Baciuška
World Rally-Raid Championship for T4 Co-DriversOriol Vidal
World Rally-Raid Championship for T5 DriversJanus van Kasteren
World Rally-Raid Championship for T5 Co-DriversDarek Rodewald, Marcel Snijdrs
World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for DriversNasser Al-Attiyah
World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for Co-DriversMathieu Baumel
World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for TeamsOverdrive Racing
World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for T3 DriversOtávio Sousa Leite
World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for T4 DriversCristiano de Sousa Batista
World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for T4 TeamsSouth Racing Can-Am
European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for DriversKrzysztof Hołowczyc
European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for Co-DriversŁukasz Kurzeja
European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for TeamsSantag Racing (represented by David Vieira)
Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for DriversKhaled Ahmed Alferaihi
Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for Co-DriversSébastien Delaunay
Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for TeamsShegawi Racing (represented by Ahmad Jan)
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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