Trio of Toyota Hiluxes for Argentina’s Desafio Ruta 40

Fernando Alvarez © DR

– Fernando Alvarez, Sebastián Halpern and Ricardo Martinez in line-up
– Five-day cross-country event starts from San Rafael and finishes in La Rioja

After a successful early season racing in the deserts of the Middle East, South Racing now switches its attention to the forthcoming Desafio Ruta 40, the first hurdle of the Dakar Challenge 2016 and a round of the Argentine Cross-Country Rally Championship.


The German-based team has entered three Toyota Hiluxes in the event, which starts out of the city of San Rafael on Sunday, June 19th and finishes in La Rioja on Thursday, June 23rd.

South Racing brought its three cars to the finish of last year’s event in third, fifth and eighth overall, with Czech-based Australian Peter Jerie leading the way on to the podium and Chile’s Daniel Mas Valdes and Spaniard Fernando Alvarez finishing fifth and eighth.

Alvarez again teams up with his regular Argentinean navigator Luciano Genonni in the first of the cars with backing from Conarpesa. The Argentinean Sebastián Halpern drives the second Toyota alongside Uruguayan co-driver Sergio Lafuente and the Argentine duo of Ricardo Martinez and Eugenio Arrieta crew the third South Racing entry.

While Alvarez has competed on several occasions with South Racing, Halpern and Lafuente have made the switch from quad bike riding to tackle the Argentinean classic in a larger four-wheel category. They both previously co-drove for Lucio Alvarez and Nazareno Lopez, respectively, and have now teamed up for this race together. Lafuente was with Lopez on last year’s Desafio Ruta 40 and the duo were running well inside the top 10 until they retired their Oil Combustibles/C5N Toyota Hilux after an accident between Tinogasta and Chilecito.

Martinez and Arrieta have raced for several years in South America and tackled the Dakar Rally in the past. They are returning to active competition after a sabbatical.

“We had a very hectic start to the season with the Dakar, the Baja in Russia and then the back-to-back rounds of the FIA World Cup in Abu Dhabi and Qatar,” said South Racing’s director Scott Abraham.

“We then returned to the workshops in Europe to prepare for the next phase of the busy motor sporting calendar and everyone is looking forward to the start of Desafio Ruta 40 and the superb special stages and challenges we face in Argentina.”

South Racing was founded in 2013. Based near Frankfurt in Germany, the young, customer-driven team also has workshops in Portugal and has extensive experience of the Dakar Rally and rallying in South America.

The event is organised by the Asociacion Cordobesa de Regularidad y Rally with support from the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) that runs the gruelling Dakar Rally in January. Scrutineering and administration checks will take place in San Rafael on Friday, June 17th and Saturday, June 16th.

Starting with a loop stage around San Rafael on Sunday – that is split by a neutralised road section – the event then heads out of San Rafael and on to San Juan on Monday, June 20th.

The third selective section loops around the San Juan bivouac on Tuesday, June 21st and then teams reach the town of La Rioja, a regular venue on the Dakar Rally, on Wednesday, June 22nd. The fifth and final competitive section loops around La Rioja on Thursday, June 23rd.

Desafio Ruta 40 takes its name from Argentina’s National Road No. 40, the longest and most spectacular in the country. It runs for 5,200km from Cabo Virgenes in the province of Santa Cruz all the way to La Quiaca and passes through 11 provinces and the Patagonia, Cuyo and North regions.

Neil Perkins,