CÓRDOBA (ARGENTINA): South Racing Can-Am Team’s Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin will take a lead of 53min 28sec into the final special stage of the Dakar Rally after finishing second on the 13th timed test between San Juan and Córdoba in Argentina.
Varela began the stage first on the road and continued his duel with Frenchman Patrice Garrouste through the first part of the special. The Brazilian led through the first two waypoints and went on to reach the end of the section just 36 seconds behind his rival. It meant that the Maverick X3 driver took a virtual overall advantage of 1hr 02min 51sec into the longest second part of the stage. He eventually completed the stage in second place.
Leonel Larrauri and Fernando Imperatrice managed to reach San Juan with a massive time loss after their breakage on Thursday and they took the start in sixth place in the second of the South Racing Can-Ams. Larrauri dropped further time as the stage progressed and was 1hr 23min 14sec behind Garrouste after section one. He lost further time on the second section but the team was working hard to make sure that he reached the finish.
Electrical problems had plagued Juan Carlos Uribe and Javier Uribe Godoy through the water crossings and sandy sections of the 12th stage between Chilecito and San Juan and they proved one hurdle too far for the Peruvian crew to overcome. After leading early in the race and being inside the top three for the entire event in his Can-Am, Uribe was forced to retire his South Racing-built chassis that ran with the support of Can-Am Perú, Alsol, Friopacking and Chiawel Agro.
The 12th stage headed from San Juan to Córdoba and included a competitive part of 369km through the dunes of San Juan, across the Pampas de las Salinas and numerous well known WRC-style tracks en route to a liaison via the town of Vila Carlos Paz to the night halt.
Tomorrow, what has been a particularly difficult Dakar in South America concludes with a short loop stage of 120km to the north-west of Córdoba that includes around 30 river crossings. The entire stage takes place on soil and gravel.
What they said:
Scott Abraham, Managing Director, South Racing Can-Am Team
“Leonel damaged the car on the stage today but we are confident that he will finish the rally after the last stage tomorrow. It was another strong day from Reinaldo. He was fighting all day on the split times with Patrice (Garrouste). He had a puncture but he was able to consolidate his lead.
“Tomorrow, anything can happen. We have seen it today with the leading trucks and the leading contenders for the podium in the cars. So, we are concentrated to make sure the car is rebuilt and ready to go.”