36 priority drivers for 2024 FIA cross-country season

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

Status Driver 2023 category
Platinum Nasser Al-Attiyah T1
Platinum Yazeed Al-Rajhi T1
Platinum Sébastien Loeb T1
Platinum Stéphane Peterhansel T1
Platinum Carlos Sainz T1
Platinum Juan Cruz Yacopini T1
Gold Rokas Baciuška T3, T4
Gold Guerlain Chicherit T1
Gold Giniel de Villiers T1
Gold Cyril Despres N/A
Gold Mattias Ekström T1, T3
Gold João Ferreira T3, T4
Gold Sebastián Halpern T1
Gold Denis Krotov T1
Gold Henk Lategan T1
Gold Francisco Lopéz Contardo T3
Gold Lucas Moraes T1
Gold Martin Prokop T1
Gold Jakub Przygoński T1
Gold Seth Quintero T3
Gold Nani Roma T1
Gold Mathieu Serradori T1
Gold Orlando Terranova T1
Gold Vaidotas Žala T1
Silver Salem Aldhafeeri T4
Silver Khaled Ahmed Alferaihi T1
Silver Hamad Al-Harbi T3
Silver Ghislain de Mévius T3
Silver Eryk Goczał T3, T4
Silver Marek Goczał T3, T4
Silver Mitch Guthrie T3
Silver Cristina Gutiérrez T3
Silver Krzysztof Hołowczyc T1
Silver Austin Jones T3
Silver Tiago Reis T1
Silver Shinsuke Umeda T4

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