CC South Racing's Gutierrez and Halpern finish second and fourth in Argentina's Desafio Ruta 40 Sur
DESAFIO RUTA 40 SUR
2017 Argentine Cross-Country Championship, round 1
April 2-7, 2017
For immediate release
Friday, April 7th, 2017
SOUTH RACING’S GUTIERREZ MISSES OUT ON DESAFIO
RUTA 40 SUR VICTORY IN LAST STAGE THRILLER
· Fourth stage delay costs South Racing’s fourth-placed Halpern title chance
LAS GRUTAS (ARGENTINA): South Racing followed up two cars finishing the gruelling Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on April 6th with Bolivian driver Rodrigo Gutierrez just missing out on the overall victory in second overall and Argentinean Sebastien Halpern finishing fourth on the other side of the world at Argentina’s Desafio Ruta 40 Sur on Friday (April 7th).
The five-day opening round of the Argentine Cross-Country Championship took place in southern Patagonia. Gutierrez and his new South American-based Croatian navigator Tomislav Glavic led going into the final stage, before narrowly missing out on the victory in Las Grutas to Argentina’s Emiliano Spataro.
Halpern and fellow Argentinean Eduardo Pulenta led until they broke a drive shaft on their Toyota Hilux in stage four and eventually finished fourth overall, setting the fastest time in the sand dunes of the Bahia Creek area on the final stage. The Argentinean had won the Desafio Ruta event in the La Rioja area in the north pf the country last year.
“This was a very difficult and technical race in Argentina,” said South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham. “I guess I have mixed emotions. The team was leading the event. Rodrigo and Tomi put in a great performance and Rodrigo continues to grow after his result on the Dakar. Sebastien and Eduardo were the class of the field until the drive shaft failure on the fourth stage. But they showed their ability by winning today’s stage in superb style.
“I say a huge thank you to the mechanics and the team who worked in torrential rain last night and had little sleep during the week. Without their efforts, this result would not have been possible. Now we will come back even more determined to win the Desafio Ruta 40 North event in August.”
The opening loop stage around Neuquén. the largest city in Patagonia, ran for 435.18km and included a neutralised section of just 1.14km. Emiliano Spataro snatched the early advantage, but the South Racing pair were well-placed in second and third positions. Gutierrez was a mere 2min 27sec behind the Argentinean and Halpern was a matter of two seconds further behind after over four hours of driving.
Day two ran from Neuquén to Villa Regina in the General Roco Department of the province of Rio Negro and included a competitive section of 363.25km, less a short neutralised zone of 21.44km. It was an excellent day for the South Racing duo and the pair claimed the fastest two stage times, with early leader Spataro third quickest after the special was shortened to just 142km.
The third section ran from Villa Regina to Las Grutas and included a competitive distance of around 268km. Halpern claimed the stage win from Spataro, with his South Racing team-mate snatching third place to keep both Toyotas firmly in the hunt heading to the fourth loop stage around Las Grutas in first and second overall.
The special stage of 373km delivered the first problems for the South Racing team. Halpern broke a drive shaft five kilometres after the start and dropped around two and a half hours to his team-mate, who won a stage that featured tricky navigation and dune crossings. It meant that Halpern slipped to fourth overall and Gutierrez took a lead of 4min 03sec over Spataro into the final stage.
The beach resort town was also the start and finish base for the last stage of the event – a 174km finale – and there was a nail-biting conclusion. Halpern bounced back from his previous day’s delays to comfortably claim the stage win, but Gutierrez finished 6min 58sec behind Spataro after opening the road on a difficult stage for navigation and that enabled the Argentinean to snatch a last gasp win by just 2min 55sec.
2017 Desafio Ruta 40 Sur – final positions
1. Emiliano Spataro (ARG)/Santiago Hansen (ARG) Renault Duster 14hr 58min 03sec
2. Rodrigo Gutierrez (BOL)/Tomislav Glavic (HRV) Toyota Hilux 15hr 00min 58sec
3. José Garcia (ARG)/Ricardo Torlaschi (ARG) Chevrolet S10 15hr 47min 35sec
4. Sebastián Halpern (ARG)/Eduardo Pulenta (ARG) Toyota Hilux 17hr 02min 12sec
5. Omar Gandara (ARG)/Mayco Martine (ARG) Toyota Hilux 23hr 35min 26sec
6. Gaston Pasten (ARG)/Federico Echegaray (ARG) Toyota Hilux 25hr 30min 04sec
7. Hernan Brades (ARG)/Juan Spinella (ARG) Yamaha YXZ 1000R 25hr 43min 10sec
8. Jorge Mansilla (ARG)/Ezequie Amendloa (ARG) VW Amarok 29hr 36min 05sec
For further information: contact Scott Abraham, South Racing, Email: Scott.Abraham@southracing.com, Tel: + 49 172 6662880.
Facebook group: South Racing