· Alvarez and Gutierrez finish seventh and 26th in South Racing Amaroks
· Rodrigo Gutierrez sets fastest time on fifth stage for South Racing
TERUEL (SPAIN): South Racing’s Portuguese pairing of Ricardo Pórem and new co-driver Nuño Rodrigues de Silva reached the finish of the demanding Baja Aragón Teruel, round seven of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, in a fine fifth position in their Ford Ranger.
The defending Portuguese off-road champion was making his first of two appearances with the South Racing team this season and set competitive times on each of the Spanish event’s five timed special stages.
Spanish driver Fernando Alvarez and his Argentinean navigator Juan Pablo Monasterolo improved as the event progressed in their Conarpesa-backed Volkswagen Amarok and reached the finish in Teruel in seventh overall.
Bolivian driver Rodrigo Gutierrez and his co-driver Juan Rubi suffered sensor issues and time delays on Saturday and lost a lot of time. But the South American bounced back in impressive fashion on the final stage to set the quickest time in his Volkswagen Amarok and give South Racing the stage win. Gutierrez was classified in 26th overall.
South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham said: “This was a great result for the team after a difficult day on Saturday. Ricardo did a great job all weekend to bring the Ford Ranger home in fifth place and Fernando finished seventh after a difficult Prologue. He came back strongly.
“It was disappointing for Rodrigo after a strong Prologue and then losing time with the sensor issue that he fixed. But he came back very strongly with a seventh on the stage yesterday and then winning the stage today. That clearly shows the potential of the new WCT South Racing chassis. This is very positive for the future.”
The opening Fahambra special stage was shortened to a little under 13km and Martin Prokop set the fastest time. Pórem was in impressive form with the South Racing Ford Ranger and finished the special 16 seconds behind the Czech driver to move into fifth overall. Gutierrez was classified in eighth and Alvarez was 16th.
The meat of the action began on Saturday morning and Russian driver Vladimir Vasilyev was quickest in the punishing heat and dust of the 215.62km selective section between Alfambra and Cella. Pórem climbed to fourth overall with the fourth quickest time of 2hrs 53min 11sec. Gutierrez lost time with a sensor issue and finished the stage in 43rd with the loss of two hours. Alvarez was 14th.
A shorter selective section of 147.30km between Villarquemado and Teruel brought Saturday’s action to a conclusion. Pórem dropped a few minutes to the leaders and slipped to fifth in the overall rankings, but Alvarez climbed to 12th and Gutierrez was back on an impressive pace and moved up to 34th.
Action concluded with a selective section of 127.45km between Barrachina and Alfambra on Sunday and the eighth quickest time in muddy conditions after a storm enabled Pórem to reach the finish in Teruel in fifth overall. Alvarez crossed the finish of the final stage in seventh overall.
Gutierrez was running down the order in the second of the Volkswagens and the Bolivian carded a time of 1hr 41min 22sec for the final stage, which gave him the stage win by just two seconds from Przygonski. It was a superb end to the event for the Bolivian after the time delay on Saturday.
2018 Baja Aragón Teruel – final results
1. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) Toyota Hilux 6hrs 37min 50sec
2. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally 6hrs 38min 42sec
3. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tománek (CZE) Ford Raptor RS Cross-Country 6hrs 39min 12sec
4. Aron Domzala (POL)/Maciej Marton (POL) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 6hrs 47min 02sec
5. Ricardo Pórem (PRT)/Nuno Rodrigues Silva (PRT) Ford Ranger 6hrs 50min 06sec
6. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 7hrs 04min 27sec
7. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Juan-Pablo Monasterolo (ARG) Volkswagen Amarok 7hrs 13min 33sec
26. Rodrigo Gutierrez (BOL)/Joan Rubi (ESP) Volkswagen Amarok 8hrs 21min 16sec