PORTALEGRE (PORTUGAL): South Racing had the perfect tonic for a hectic weekend’s action in Portugal when Bolivian driver Rodrigo Gutiérrez was confirmed as the 2017 South American CODASUR Cross-Country champion.
At the wheel of his South-Racing run Toyota Hilux, Gutiérrez and South American-based Croatian navigator Tomislav Glavic led going into the final stage of Argentina’s Desafio Ruta 40 Sur back in April before reaching the podium in second position.
Desafio Guarani, the second round of the CODASUR Championship, took place across the Paraguayan wilderness and Gutiérrez guided his Toyosa-backed car to a stunning victory with a winning margin of nearly an hour over Paraguayan team-mate Blas Zapag.
That gave the Bolivian the championship lead to take to the testing sand dunes of the Atacama Rally in Chile in mid-August. But his title aspirations suffered a setback after he crashed heavily on the penultimate stage.
The Bolivian suffered another setback at Argentina’s Desafio Ruta 40 Nord after damaging the steering rack, but bounced back strongly to win September’s Baja Inka in Perú. He then reached the Villamontes finish in second position in Bolivia’s Desafio Del Chaco this weekend to clinch the prestigious title after a fascinating season-long battle with Argentina’s Emiliano Spataro at the top of the points’ standings.
“This is a fantastic win for Rodrigo and for all the South Racing team after a long season of racing in South America,” said South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham. “We had our ups and downs, but Rodrigo and Tommi fought hard on all the events and, in the end, their perseverance and commitment shone through with the win. A big thanks to them for their faith in South Racing, as well as all the hard work put in by all the team.”
South Racing returns to South American action at the daunting Dakar Rally in January 2018.