Wednesday, February 21, 2024

BAIC ORV loses all W2RC points for not entering enough races

When the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship was at its halfway point, BAIC ORV was third in the manufacturer’s championship with 100 points. Two races later, they will end the season last and penniless.

On Friday, the FIA announced BAIC has been docked all 100 points and fined €10,000 for not running enough races despite being registered for the manufacturer’s title. Marques are required to enter at least four of the five rounds in order to maintain eligibility. BAIC appeared at the first three events of the season at the Dakar Rally, Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, and Sonora Rally but did not do so at the Desafio Ruta 40 or Rallye du Maroc.

“A Manufacturer undertakes to participate in a minimum of four of the Rallies of the Championship with at least one vehicle of Groups T1, T2, T3 or T4 complying with the technical regulations in force,” reads Article V1 3.4.3 of the FIA’s Cross-Country Rally Regulations.

BAIC, a Chinese manufacturer, began the season with Guoyu Zhang and Zi Yunliang respectively finishing fifteenth and twenty-seven in the top T1 category at the Dakar Rally. They placed seventh and eighth in Abu Dhabi, where they were the last T1 cars to complete every stage without retiring, followed by sixth and eighth in Sonora.

2023 was the company’s first year competing in the T1+ subcategory after upgrading their BAIC BJ40 to meet regulation. Outside of the world championship, Zi and Zhang finished 1–2 at the Taklimakan Rally in their home country, though Zi was not competing at the event as a a BAIC ORV factory driver. Zhang’s runner-up finish still netted him the T1+ class win, while Liu Yangui won in T1.1 in a BJ40.

The penalty only applies to the manufacturer’s side, meaning Zhang and Zi still retain their points earned towards the driver’s championship as do their navigators Jean-Pierre Garvin, Oriol Mena, and Sha He in the co-driver’s standings.

With BAIC dropping to zero points, Prodrive is guaranteed to finish third in the manufacturer’s standings; represented by Bahrain Raid Xtreme, Prodrive also skipped the DR 40 after a disastrous Sonora Rally but returned for the Rallye du Maroc.

Toyota clinched the constructor’s title for the second straight season in Argentina as their Hilux has won all four rounds so far. X-raid’s Mini John Cooper Works programme sits second with 107 points to Toyota’s 175.