Oscar Fuertes successfully passes the penultimate test of an epic Dakar

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Oscar Fuertes successfully passes the penultimate test of an epic Dakar

  • The SsangYong Motorsport driver stands on the threshold of the finish line in Lima, holding again the third position in the T1.3 class.
  • The SsangYong Rexton DKR firmly withstands the hardships of another “infernal” stage with 90% of dunes.
  • “You can’t imagine what we put the car through: engine strain, climbing up dunes at full throttle for minutes, potholes, bumps… and it brings us here no matter what”, affirms the driver.

The penultimate stage of Dakar 2019 has been quite favourable for the SsangYong Motorsport team. Oscar Fuertes and co-driver Diego Vallejo have successfully passed the test, completing the 312-kilometre special in the 33rd place after driving for 6 hours and 7 minutes. They maintain the same position in the overall standing, with a total of over 61 hours in the race though, more importantly, the Spanish team has regained the third position in the T1.3 class (rear-wheel-drive petrol-powered cars).

Nonetheless, it has not been an easy ride because this Dakar – short in distance but extremely intense and gruelling – does not give anything away. The Stage 9 penultimate special, with 90% of dunes, clearly illustrates it. “This stage was hell; dunes and dunes on end, they were very high and there were tracks everywhere, which made navigation really tough”, states Oscar Fuertes.

The Madrid-born driver has praised the SsangYong Rexton DKR again for its features and sturdiness. “You can’t imagine what we put the car through: engine strain, climbing up dunes at full throttle for minutes, potholes, bumps… and the Rexton brings us here no matter what”, adds the former Spanish Gravel Rally champion both surprised and thankful. As a reward, the SsangYong Motorsport team feels closer to the podium in its class on the threshold of the finish line in Lima.

The third element in this joint effort is Diego Vallejo and his work on the co-driver’s seat. The Galician co-driver has had his own share of suffering in a stage that brought some terrain difficulties as well as challenging navigation. “At some point I had to ask Oscar to stop because I got dizzy with so many route options; I didn’t even know where I was. But I thought for a little while; we found the right course and we are happy to be here”, states Diego.

This Thursday, Dakar 2019 survivors will race the 10th and last stage that will take them to the finish podium in Lima. It will not be an easy ride because the stage includes a 112-kilometre special, followed by a 247-kilometre liaison to reach the Peruvian capital. “One more to go. It’s shorter but we can’t let our guard down; we keep our fingers crossed!”, says a confident and optimistic Diego Vallejo.

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