South Racing's Gutierrez, Bulacia and Amor survive Dakar Rally

South Racing's Gutierrez, Bulacia and Amor survive Dakar Rally

15.01.2017: ... to reach finish in Buenos Aires 2017 Dakar Rally January 1st-14th, 2017 Saturday, January 14th, 2017

... to reach finish in Buenos Aires





2017 Dakar Rally – January 1st-14th, 2017
Saturday, January 14th, 2017





•         Bolivian Gutierrez and Argentina’s Amor reach finish in 16th and 50th


•         Ford Ranger driver Marco Bulacia finishes 20th overall with Claudio Bustos

 


South Racing overcame one of the most dramatic Dakar rallies on record to bring three of their original four cars to the ceremonial finish in Buenos Aires.
 


Two stages were cancelled because of inclement weather conditions and there was drama on virtually every single kilometre of the world’s toughest and most unpredictable race. Bolivian driver Rodrigo Gutierrez and his Spanish navigator Joan Rubi topped the South Racing finishers in 16th position in their Toyota Hilux.
 


When Spaniard Xavier Pons crashed and retired his DMAS South Racing Ford Ranger on the second stage in Argentina, the burden of responsibility rested on the shoulders of Bolivian driver Marco Bulacia and his Argentinean co-driver Claudio Bustos in terms of bringing a Ford Ranger to the finish.




Bulacia drove in a level-headed and consistent manner from the start and crossed the finish line in 20th overall in his South Racing Ford Ranger running with support from YPFB, Vialco, Hard Rock Santa Cruz and Ende.
 


The Argentinean father and son duo of Eduardo Osvaldo Amor and Nicolas Amor suffered more than most from the chaos that resulted in the cancellation of the special stage between San Juan and Chilecito and the blocking of a liaison road by a tragic landslide. But the crew dug in deep and managed to reach the finish in 50th position.



“I say a sincere congratulations to our whole team for bringing the three cars to the finish of this Dakar,” said South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham. “Unfortunately, we lost Xevi on day two after he had started the race very strongly. All the hard work has paid off, especially in regards to the Ford.



“The guys in the Toyotas ran a very solid race. We got 16th position and first Bolivian with Rodrigo, Marco coming home 20th in the Ford and the Amor family coming home as well in 50th.



They had their trials and tribulations on the race but, as a family, it was important for them to reach the finish. It’s a great result for the team and for all of South Racing’s customers. We also supported some of the other solid-axle Toyotas in the field.
 


“I’m proud to have such a great team of mechanics and technicians, who have been through hell to get to the podium in Buenos Aires. We will enjoy the podium and then pack up and look ahead to what should be an exciting season.”





After the rest day, the three surviving cars set out of La Paz in Bolivia in 20th, 22nd and 48th overall and tackled the first half of the Marathon stage into Uyuni that had been shortened to just 161km because of recent heavy rains and a deteriorating stage surface. Gutierrez and Bulacia retained their positions in the overall standings and Amor moved up a place to 47th.



The eighth special and the second half of the Marathon stage from Uyuni across the border into Argentina was also radically modified.



Teams lost 73km from the original competitive route of 492km, as the first section in Bolivia was stopped at PC1 and a neutralisation section guided teams to the start of the second part in Argentina. A liaison of 350km then took crews into the city of Salta. Gutierrez enjoyed a solid drive to climb to 20th position and Bulacia held 21st.



The ninth stage between Salta and Chilecito was cancelled and the day’s competitive action was abandoned to enable assistance crews and support vehicles to regroup following a massive landslide that inundated the village of Volcan on a road liaison section, near San Salvador de Jujuy, during the eighth stage.



Many crews, riders and assistance vehicles were forced to spend the night in transit in the mountains and one of those affected was Amor. The Argentinean eventually reached Chilecito to start the 10th stage in 57th overall.


Gutierrez and Bulacia had solid runs through the heat of the 10th stage into San Juan and the Ford Ranger driver was actually 16th quickest and setting top 20 split times until he was given a one-hour penalty for missing a waypoint. This dropped the Bolivian to 22nd overall, although Gutierrez held 19th.



With a couple of other drivers retiring from the top 15 on the penultimate stage into Río Cuarte, Gutierrez, Bulacia and Amor were able to start the final special of 67km from 16th, 20th and 49th positions. There were no late dramas and the trio were able to enjoy the long road section to the finish in Buenos Aires.


Further support for South Racing came from Liqui Moly, Rudy Project, Skechers, OMP Racing, Argentina Tourism and MotoGP Argentina.
 




2017 Dakar Rally – final positions


16. Rodrigo Gutierrez (BOL)/Joan Rubi (ESP) South Racing Toyota Hilux                           36hr 22min 45sec


20. Marco Bulacia (BOL)/Claudio Bustos (ARG) South Racing Ford Ranger                        38hr 07min 35sec  


50. Eduardo Amor (ARG)/Nicolas Amor (ARG) South Racing Toyota Hilux                         84hr 40min 50sec




- Neil Perkins also photos

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15.01.2017 / MaP

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