- The SsangYong Motorsport driver faces the second week of the competition with great optimism.
- “All our expectations have been met. This rally is even more difficult than last year’s”, states the Madrid-born driver.
- “It’s a reward having made it this far. This has to encourage us to get to the finish line in Lima”, admits co-driver Diego Vallejo.
After overcoming a number of difficulties during the first five days of Dakar 2019, Oscar Fuertes analyses the work of SsangYong Motorsport team during the rest day in Arequipa. After recovering some strength, the former Spanish Gravel Rally champion and his co-driver Diego Vallejo gave a very positive assessment of their situation: “All our expectations have been met. This rally is even more difficult than last year’s”, states the driver, with the cathedral of the Peruvian city in the background, which also serves as a symbol of their first goal achieved in the toughest motor race.
The SsangYong Motorsport crew has had a hard time to get there, but the stage prior to the rest day made up for their titanic effort and sacrifice. “We had some drawbacks in the first stages, which made us lose some time, and we had to start much more behind than we should have had. However, we did it really well on Friday. We enjoyed it a lot and managed to climb up many positions”, explains Oscar Fuertes. The good result obtained in the marathon stage has placed the new Rexton DKR in the 41st position of the overall ranking and has consolidated the team in the third place in the T1.3 class (rear-wheel-drive petrol-powered cars).
Starting the race behind their position had a negative impact on Oscar Fuertes, especially on Thursday, when they had an incident with a truck. “At some points we couldn’t see anything because of the suspended dust, the fesh-fesh. Then a truck overtook us and hit a stone that went flying and broke our windshield”, explains Diego Vallejo. “We thought the race would be over right there, but thanks to the Pyrotect helmets we had, which keep out the dust very well, we were fine and comfortable. We only felt a little cold in the liaison”, recalls the Galician co-driver, who defines the Dakar as “a test of self-improvement”.
Driver and co-driver not only agree on the expected toughness of the competition, but also on the vehicle’s excellent performance and the team. “The car has performed great; the new Rexton is awesome. It has only had some tiny flaws which are almost forgivable in a new model”, says Oscar Fuertes. “I have no words to describe all we make it go through and it doesn’t break on us. It should have broken a thousand times because we’ve been through some really tough areas; you have to see it to believe it”, adds Diego Vallejo. The Madrid-born driver illustrates it with a revealing fact: “Yesterday, when the air filter was opened, around 2 kg of fesh-fesh came out, which gives you an idea of how much both the car and us are suffering.”
That is why Fuertes and Vallejo want to thank the SsangYong Motorsport mechanics for their “amazing work” to have the car ready at the beginning of each stage. “We’re very happy with the car’s performance and with the team. We are in a very good position to face the next five days”, says the driver with great optimism, who also thanks the support of those who follow the Rexton DKR odyssey. “It’s a reward having made it this far. This has to encourage us to get to the finish line in Lima”, admits Diego Vallejo.
The second part of the Dakar 2019 starts this Sunday with an 810-kilometre stage for cars, from Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona, including a 310-kilometre special, once again through the dunes. “With all the sand that is ahead of us, the Rexton DKR will bring us greater joy”, concludes Oscar Fuertes.
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