AREQUIPA (PERÚ): South Racing Can-Am Team’s Reinaldo Varela left the demanding sand dunes of Peru beyond him on a positive note by recording the quickest time on the fifth 268km special stage between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa and that enabled him to snatch the outright lead in the SxS category.
Varela and navigator Gustavo Gugelmin completed the first part of the special in second position and survived the hidden sand holes and perilous navigation to set the quickest time in their Maverick X3. The Brazilians now hold a slender lead of 3min 08sec after stopping the clocks in 3hrs 42min 42sec on the last of the stages through the daunting Peruvian dunes. That time would have beaten all but 13 of the vehicles running in the flagship car category.
Juan Carlos Uribe and Javier Uribe Godoy were back into a good pace after their delays on the loop stage around San Juan de Marcona and the Peruvians were the quickest of all the ATVs through the short opening 53km of the stage in their Maverick X3, built by South Racing and running with support from Can-Am Perú, Alsol, Friopacking and Chiawel Agro.
Uribe took a virtual stage advantage of 3min 48sec into the longer second section but, with overnight leader Patrice Garrouste stopping for over two hours with his own problems in the sand, the Peruvian headed towards Arequipa in second position in the SxS category. He finished the day’s stage in second position and now trails Varela by 3min 08sec.
The Argentine duo of Leonel Larrauri and Fernando Imperatrice enjoyed a better run through the fourth stage around San Juan de Marcona and made good progress through the last of the Peruvian specials. They reached the finish without major problems, but a fault with the tracking and monitoring system arranged by race officials meant that their stage time was not available.
Today and tomorrow
The fifth stage was split into two sections, totalling 268km, and the cars tackled a shorter part first, while the motorcycles and quads competed on the longer part before following the cars into the longer section. Competitors then made the steady and tiring climb into the Andes and the night stop in Arequipa.
The route of the Dakar crosses into Bolivia during the sixth stage and teams make their way to the city of La Paz. Dunes and treacherous soft sand will be replaced by rockier terrain, faster tracks across the Altiplano and the perils of racing at much higher altitude.
Cars will tackle a stage of 313km and liaisons of 447km, with the competitive action starting at over 4,000 metres above sea level after the route winds its way around the lower reaches of the stunning Chachani volcano. The stage passes the city of Puno and the shores of Lake Titicaca before heading across the frontier into Bolivia. A short liaison then takes crews to La Paz, which will also host the event’s traditional rest day on Friday.
What they said:
Scott Abraham, Managing Director, South Racing Can-Am Team
“It was a great stage today for the Maverick X3. The first section was ideally suited to the lightweight and high performance of the vehicle and Reinaldo and Gustavo did a faultless job today. If you added them into the overall classification for the cars, they would have finished 14th, so it shows the potential of these vehicles. Now we will work on the cars after the long road section to Arequipa, so that they are ready for Bolivia and the second week of the Dakar.
“It’s been a long race so far and I send a big thanks to my entire team for their sterling efforts so far. There’s a long way to go but they have been great.”