– Ford Ranger pair finish 30th and 35th overall after two weeks of racing
Spaniard Xavier Pons and Chilean Daniel Mas Valdes fulfilled their objective and overcame moments of adversity during two punishing weeks of racing across some of the harshest terrain on the planet to bring their Ford Rangers to the finish of the Dakar Rally in 30th and 35th overall on Saturday.
Pons, partnered by co-driver Ricardo Torlaschi, had been third quickest on the opening Prologue stage, north of Buenos Aires, but the former WRC star played a catch up game almost from the start, after losing time in thick mud through the opening special stage in Argentina.
DMAS South Racing and Esponsorama team personnel did a superb job to keep his Ford running, often working late into the night to ensure that the car was prepared and ready to tackle some of the most demanding off-road terrain in the world. Pons rewarded the team with 29th place on the last stage and 30th overall, the Ford crossing the finish line in a total time of 60 hours 57 minutes and 17 seconds.
I have a lot of mixed emotions about the race, admitted Pons at the finish. It is great to have finished my first Dakar. For sure, I am hooked and, having gained so much experience in cross-country, we are looking to the future. The team and Ricardo worked tirelessly and the Ranger ran perfectly in the second week. I am looking forward to Rosario and some time to recover.
Mas Valdes and co-driver Juan Pablo Latrach completed the final stage in 31st and crossed the podium in 35th place in the second Ford Ranger.
It was a long and competitive race and the quality of the field was high, said Mas Valdes. The nature of the Dakar has changed, but I am really happy with the team and the hard work put in by Juan Pablo. We were hoping for a better result, but the clutch issue on the Belén loop cost us. Other than that, the Ford Ranger was great throughout the race and took all the knocks.
Only 68 cars made the start of the final 180km stage, south of Villa Carlos Paz, before a long road section of 386km took the finishers to the ceremonial podium in Rosario.
Crews were handed their positions in the general classification as their road starting order. Pons and Mas Valdes, therefore, began the last nervy kilometres from 30th and 35th. This was not the stage on which to take any risks and caution was the order of the day. Therefore, the duo drove superbly to fulfil the original objective of reaching the finish in Rosario.
Support for Pons’s Dakar challenge came from Air Europa, Fundación Incorpora Deportistas Solidarios, Avintia Grupo, Power Electronics, KP Sport, Galfer, Jjuan Faura, King Regal, Las Rozas Cuidad Europea del Deporte 2016 and the Palladium Hotel Group.
South Racing also received support from NWM, Rudy Project, OMP, TW Steel, Gold Nutrition, Michelin, MotoGP Argentina, Argentina Tourism and Ecomac.