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2024 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Joao Ferreira, already retired, disqualified as well – The Checkered Flag

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After a strong start to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge when he won the opening stage in the SSV class, João Ferreira was forced to retire from the race on Wednesday. To add insult to injury, the FIA has disqualified him as well for two rule violations while getting help from his team.

While running fifth in class, Ferreira’s Can-Am Maverick got stuck on a dune with a mechanical issue eighty kilometres into Stage #2. Unable to repair the vehicle, his co-driver Filipe Palmeiro called their Can-Am Factory Team to come to the scene and help them. However, Palmeiro used their satellite phone while still inside the car, which broke Article 9.1.3 of the FIA’s Cross-Country Sporting Regulations that states “telephones may only be used from outside the vehicle (while in a Selective Section) and must be switched off at other times.”

The crew eventually arrived to diagnose the problem, which they succeeded using parts that Ferreira and Palmeiro already had in storage on their car. Their presence alone was a violation of Article 49.2.1 stipulating teams cannot be within one kilometre of their race vehicle while it is still in the Selective Section.

Had the technical snag been resolved enough for Ferreira to rejoin the race on Thursday, he would have simply received a time penalty. Since this was not the case and he exited the rally altogether, the FIA deemed disqualification was suitable.

“Unfortunately, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge has come to an end for us,” wrote Ferreira. “Yesterday I said that this was a tricky race… today we fall from a dune and lost a lot of time repairing the car.”

He is the third disqualification of the 2024 World Rally-Raid Championship after Challenger drivers Eryk and Michał Goczał were busted for illegal clutches at the season-opening Dakar Rally in January. Eryk had also been leading his category prior to his penalty.

Ferreira is racing his first W2RC campaign in SSV, and entered Abu Dhabi third in its standings after finishing fifth (third among points-earning drivers) at Dakar. He placed second behind Mansour Al-Helei in the ADDC’s Prologue on Monday before winning Stage #1 ahead of Al-Helei. His SSV début came at the 2023 Rallye du Maroc, where he won the class overall.

With Ferreira out of the picture, Yasir Seaidan went on to win Stage #2 and trails Al-Helei in the SSV overall by two minutes and ten seconds. Seaidan received a penalty himself earlier on Wednesday of a one-minute addition to his Stage #1 time after his co-driver Michaël Metge was caught not properly wearing his seatbelt for roughly twenty-five seconds while their car was moving.

The next W2RC race will be a homecoming for Ferreira as the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid kicks off in Portugal in April.



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