Fourth place for Fernando Alvarez at the Italian Baja

Fernando Alvarez © DR

– Germany’s Jürgen Schröder misses out on Pordenone finish in second car

Spain’s Fernando Alvarez and Germany’s Jürgen Schröder endured mixed fortunes with South Racing at a gruelling Italian Baja, round six of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, in northern Italy.


Alvarez and Argentinean navigator Juan-Pablo Monasterolo climbed through the field in their Conarpesa-backed Toyota Hilux and eventually finished a superb fourth overall – a career-best performance for the Spaniard.

Schröder and his son Maximilian incurred time penalties early in the race and faced a climb back through the field from then on in the second South Racing car. The German duo were 14th heading into the final stage but missed out on the finish in Pordenone after a late accident damaged their Toyota’s front suspension.

“I am really happy with this result,” said Alvarez. “It was a tough, difficult rally but we stayed away from problems and that is always important. Punctures were an issue and it was not easy in the dust behind other cars, but this is a great result for us.”

“This was a very good race for Fernando and emphasised his continual improvement,” said South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham. “Unfortunately, he had three punctures on the final stage and finished the special on a wheel.

“Jürgen damaged a prop shaft in a river bed on a stone on Saturday and then broke the engine mountings and damaged the wiring harness at the same time. I guess it was a chain reaction. They restarted this morning, had a very good first stage and had to contend with dust, starting further behind. The last stage started well and then, unfortunately, they had a small accident towards the end and damaged the front suspension.”

The South Racing duo began brightly and Schröder and Alvarez were classified in ninth and 11th positions through the opening 19.8km of the Memorial Azzaretti special stage on Friday evening. But Alvarez moved up to ninth position when Schröder incurred 17 minutes of time penalties and slipped to 23rd.

The duo were classified in eighth and ninth through the first of three runs through a 91.8km ‘Cantina’ selective section from San Lorenzo to Valvasone and Alvarez held eighth overall. Alvarez carded the seventh quickest time on his second run – the Spaniard beating his first run by 3min 31sec – but Schröder suffered prop shaft and engine mounting issues, dropped another 40 minutes to the leaders and slipped to 17th place.

Another top 10 time on Cantina 3 enabled Alvarez to reach the night halt in sixth position and Schröder began the final day from 16th.

The final day’s action took place over two passes through the 86.4km Valvadrom stage between Valvasone and Rauscedo. The duo clocked the fourth and seventh quickest times through the first one and climbed to fourth and 14th in the overall rankings, but Schröder missed out on the finish after his late accident, as Alvarez confirmed an excellent fourth overall and looks ahead to Baja Spain next month.

2017 Italian Baja – final positions
1. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini All4 Racing, 5hr 41min 21.7sec
2. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SLO) Hummer H3 Evo VII, 5hr 57min 33.8sec
3. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Mini All4 Racing, 6hr 12min 44.1sec
4. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Pablo Monasterolo (ARG) South Racing Toyota Hilux, 6hr 16min 09.7sec
5. Jes Munk (DNK)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 6hr 27min 37.5sec
6. Elvis Borsoi (ITA)/Stefano Rossi (ITA) Toyota Toyodell, 6hr 30min 40.1sec…

Neil Perkins,