Oscar Fuertes and Diego Vallejo’s final podium spot in their second Dakar an epic performance

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Oscar Fuertes and Diego Vallejo’s final podium spot in their second Dakar an epic performance

  • The SsangYong Motorsport crew accomplishes their goal. Their extraordinary performance is rewarded with the third position in the T1.3 class
  • The Madrid-born driver and his Galician co-driver reach the 33rd position in the overall standing after 3,000 off-road timed kilometres with the Spain-built SsangYong Rexton DKR.
  • “We should feel very satisfied with our job. Every single member of the team has worked passionately”, asserts the driver.

The final podium at Lima was a distant goal for the SsangYong Motorsport team when the first stage of the Dakar 2019 kicked off on 7 January. Ten days later, however, Oscar Fuertes and Diego Vallejo have met their objective of returning to the Peruvian capital after 3,000 timed kilometres and a total running time of 63 hours, 14 minutes and 19 seconds. For a second year in a row, the Spanish crew has succeeded in finishing the Dakar with SsangYong Motorsport. To top it off, they reached an outstanding third position in their class for the Rexton DKR, which is even more remarkable – if possible – given this edition’s gruelling conditions that added some heroic notes to their performance.

The tenth and last stage has taken the survivors from an initial group of over a hundred cars through a 112-kilometre special from Pisco to Lima. The Madrid-born driver and his Galician co-driver completed the stage in slightly under two hours, finishing in an excellent 29th position that has secured them the third place in the T1.3 class (rear-wheel-drive petrol-powered cars) and the 33rd in the overall standing.

In the toughest motor race in the world, finishing is on many occasions a deserved reward. That is why this podium position tastes so good and makes up for SsangYong Motorsport’s great effort. It also showcases the drivers’ expertise and Rexton’s performance and reliability. “The rally has been extremely tough and intense. It was not only about racing because driving through the places we had to was a real challenge”, assures Oscar Fuertes as he caresses the front of his 100% Spanish vehicle: “Our SsangYong Rexton has brought us here despite everything we put it through.”

When celebrating the success, the former Spanish Gravel Rally champion also wanted to thank the Korean brand’s team for their great job. “We should feel very satisfied with the work done. Everybody has given their 140%. Every single member of the SsangYong Motorsport team has been very passionate. Although today we are the protagonists and it is us who will be on the picture, we’ve all done a great job”, assesses the driver.

For co-driver Diego Vallejo, this is also a special accomplishment as it is his fourth completed Dakar rally, racing the last two with Fuertes and SsangYong Motorsport. “We are very happy to be here at the finish line. This has been a terrible Dakar with a lot of sand. There’ve been very tough moments when we’ve had a really bad time, but we’ve overcome every one of them. To a great extent, it’s been possible thanks to the Rexton DKR, which has performed wonderfully despite everything we put it through”, he admits.

The experienced Galician co-driver summarises the strain and effort required to succeed in this Dakar 2019. “I don’t think I’ll go to the beach much this year; I’ve had enough sand already!”, he jokes. But at the podium in Lima, he exclaims: “We’re ready for the next one!”

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