DAK South Racing guides three of its four cars to Dakar Rally rest day in La Paz
2017 Dakar Rally – January 1st-14th, 2017
For immediate release
Sunday, January 8th, 2017
SOUTH RACING GUIDES THREE OF ITS FOUR
CARS TO DAKAR RALLY REST DAY IN LA PAZ
· Ford Ranger driver Marco Bulacia climbs up leader board to 22nd in La Paz
· Bolivian Gutierrez and Argentina’s Amor hold 20th and 47th overall in Toyotas
LA PAZ (BOLIVIA): After one of the most demanding and topsy-turvy Dakar rallies in history, South Racing has guided three of its four cars to the halfway point and a much-needed rest day in the bustling Bolivian city of La Paz.
Incessant heavy rain, muddy conditions and flooding in Bolivia followed searing heat and choking dust at lower altitudes in Argentina and Paraguay in a first week where the leader board changed almost on a daily basis.
South Racing reached La Paz with the Ford Ranger crew of Bolivian Marco Bulacia and his Argentinean co-driver Claudio Bustos lying in a solid 22nd overall and both Toyota Hiluxes running strongly in 20th and 47th positions. Fellow Bolivian Rodrigo Gutierrez and Spanish navigator Joan Rubi were 20th and the Argentinean father and son duo of Eduardo Osvaldo Amor and Nicolas Amor were classified in 47th.
The only setback in a week of long hours and hard work for the South Racing team was the loss of the DMAS South Racing Ford Ranger of Spaniard Xavier Pons and his Argentinean navigator Ruben Garcia on the second special stage in Argentina. Pons had been second fastest on the opening special in Paraguay before crashing heavily on the run across the Grand Chaco the following day.
“Everyone in South Racing’s team is in good spirits, even after the muddy and treacherous conditions,” said South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham. “To have three of our four cars in La Paz, as well as the South Racing support car, is a testament to the team’s strength. Obviously it was a pity to lose Xevi (Pons) on day number two. But after the great results, you have to take the positives more than the negatives. We have the three surviving cars now in the best possible condition for the drivers for the second part of the race.
“We don’t know what to expect next week. We don’t know what the navigation is going to throw at us, nor Mother Nature. But, one this is guaranteed, and that is that the team will be there doing the best they can, day in, day out, and we can bring all three cars across the podium in Buenos Aires.”
In searing heat and muddy conditions, the four South Racing cars made solid starts to their challenge for Dakar honours through the opening 39km of the only Paraguayan special ever to be staged. Pons and Bulacia were second and 18th in the Ford Rangers and Gutierrez and Amor carded the 25th and 45th times.
There was no respite with the heat on day two, but it was a stage of mixed fortunes for South Racing, with Pons forced to retire his DMAS South Racing Ford Ranger early in the special to San Miguel de Tucumán. Gutierrez carded a stage time of 2hr 26min 46sec to hold 18th overall, Bulacia was 23rd and Amor was 47th.
Pons said: “At kilometre 85 on a very long straight there was a stone or a rock, I am not clear and we hit it. The car went up into the air and, when it hit the ground, we catapulted towards a hill and overturned. We tried to repair it and continued for a few kilometres, but then broke the left front wheel and there was no way to repair it. We did not have the parts and it was impossible. We had to wait until very late and we arrived at 06.30hrs in the morning and were out of time and out of the race.”
The third stage was split into two by a high-altitude neutralised section and the latter tracks climbed to over 3,400 metres. It was a nice taster for what lay ahead in Bolivia over the coming days and Gutierrez, Bulacia and Amor finished the special without major delays to hold 16th, 31st and 51st at the night halt in San Salvador de Jujuy.
Gutierrez lost time stuck in the early part of the fourth stage into Bolivia, but was soon on his way again and reached Tupiza in 20th overall. Bulacia was 26th and Amor was classified in 42nd before the start of a shortened 219km between Tupiza and Uyuni. Because of inclement weather conditions, the second section of the fifth stage was cancelled and teams drove via a road liaison to Oruro.
Incessant overnight rain and flooding in the bivouac in Oruro had made it a miserable experience for teams working on the cars at the night halt and the rain had a serious affect on the following stage as well. Race officials sent a crew out to reconnoitre the sixth stage into La Paz and the decision was taken to cancel the section, with some teams arriving very late into Oruro in any case. Gutierrez and Bulacia were classified in 20th and 22nd overall. Amor reached La Paz in 47th.
Further support for South Racing comes from Liqui Moly, Rudy Project, Skechers, OMP Racing, Argentina Tourism and MotoGP Argentina.
After the rest day, the Dakar heads out of La Paz and across the remote salt flats and sandy wastelands to the town of Uyuni for a Marathon stage before crossing into Argentina and the city of Salta on January 10.
Night halts in Chilecito, San Juan and Rio Cuarto follow at lower altitude and higher temperatures on January 11, 12 and 13, before the final stage treks across central Argentina to the ceremonial finish in Buenos Aires on January 14.
2017 Dakar Rally – positions at La Paz rest day
20. Rodrigo Gutierrez (BOL)/Joan Rubi (ESP) South Racing Toyota Hilux 18hr 31min 21sec
22. Marco Bulacia (BOL)/Claudio Bustos (ARG) South Racing Ford Ranger 19hr 12min 24sec
47. Eduardo Amor (ARG)/Nicolas Amor (ARG) South Racing Toyota Hilux 39hr 48min 11sec
For further information: contact Scott Abraham, South Racing, Email: Scott.Abraham@southracing.com, Tel: + 49 172 6662880.