World Rally-Raid Championship

Joao Ferreira to race Mini at BP Ultimate Rally-Raid

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Credit: Charly Lopez/ASO

The upcoming BP Ultimate Rally-Raid will be a special event for João Ferreira as it marks the first World Rally-Raid Championship round in his home country of Portugal. With a homecoming looming, it only makes sense for him to try something different, and that shakeup is in the form of racing the Mini John Cooper Works Rally Plus for X-raid Team.

It will be Ferreira’s second time competing in the W2RC’s Ultimate category after making his series début in the Mini at the 2022 Andalucía Rally in neighbouring Spain. He will hope Portugal goes better than that start, where he only completed Stage #1A before crashing out in the following leg.

Since then, Ferreira’s W2RC action has come in the Challenger and SSV categories. He ran much of the 2023 calendar in the former, driving a Yamaha for X-raid, before switching to a Can-Am Maverick for South Racing in the latter class at the season-ending Rallye du Maroc and winning. Ferreira began the 2024 season with a fifth in SSV (third among points-eligible drivers) at the Dakar Rally, and won the opening stage at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge before getting disqualified halfway through for having his crew come onto the racing surface to help him with repairs. After two rounds, he sits fourth in SSV points but will drop in position after Portugal as he moves into Ultimate, which does not have its own class-specific standings, on a one-off. He is expected to return to South Racing for the rest of the season afterwards.

Although his W2RC focus has been in side-by-sides, Ferreira continues to race the Mini in regional competition. In 2022, he won both the Portuguese Cross-Country Championship and FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas (now FIA European Baja Cup). The following year, he upgraded his Mini to comply with T1+ regulations and finished fourth in European Cup points and third in what is now the World Baja Cup. A month after Dakar, he narrowly lost the 2024 World Cup opener at the Saudi Baja by thirty-eight seconds to Yazeed Al-Rajhi.

The BP Ultimate Rally-Raid, set to begin on 3 April, predominantly takes place in Portugal save for a stage that extends into Spain. Both countries will be represented on X-raid Team as Ferreira teams up with the Spaniard Pau Navarro.

“A lot of Portuguese drivers will race there, I hope so,” Ferreira told The Checkered Flag in October. “The race, from what I heard, is going be a lot of sand—not like Dakar of course, but sandy tracks. It will be super fun, super fast as well and will be a pleasure to see all the World Championship drivers in our own country and in Spain. I think the drivers will enjoy the race.”

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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