– Guedes and Bampi finish third overall in their Toyota Hilux
Despite setting several fastest times and leading for the first part of the gruelling eight-stage event, Lucas Moraes and Kaíque Bentivoglio were unable to earn a repeat home victory in Brazil’s BRB Rally dos Sertões after a costly fourth stage collision with a tree and further delays at a water crossing on the seventh stage.
Overdrive Racing staff supplied logistical and service support to several other teams and Sylvio de Barros and Ramon Sacilotti looked set for second place overall until they also succumbed to the water crossing on stage seven that also accounted for the third Toyota Hilux, crewed by Fernando Rosset and Marcelo Duarte Haseyama.
The delays meant the three Toyotas failed to start the final stage of South America’s most demanding off-road event. Mauro Guedes and Eduardo Bampi were the highest-placed Toyota crew in third overall in their X Rally Team Hilux.
Outright victory fell to the Century CR6 Buggy crew of Marcelo Gastaldi and Cadu Sachs, with Marcos Baumgart and Kleber Cincea coming home second.
Moraes has recently signed as a full-time driver for Toyota Gazoo Racing and the 2019 event winner again teamed up with Bentivoglio to run a Toyota Hilux assisted by Overdrive and aligned to MEM Motorsport.
Speaking before the start, Moraes said: « It is always very good to run the Sertões, especially defending the title. I hope we can make a clean test, which is the most important thing. I believe that this edition will be a lot more technical than last year’s one; more tight, and therefore the right part of the car will be much more important. We did the shakedown, and the car is very good. We have an excellent grid, a different format, and the homework is done. »
Organised by Dunas Race, this year’s Brazilian event began on Friday, August 11th with a Prologue of 13.15km before the opening selective section of 375km crossed remote countryside between Petrolina and Raso da Catarina on August 12th.
Marcos Baumgart topped the times on the Prologue, the Hunter driver beating Moraes by just 3.07 seconds, with De Barros in sixth, Capua in eighth and Guedes rounding off the top 10. Moraes struck back on the gruelling opening stage and surged into a lead of 9min 03.27sec over Cristian Baumgart, despite one flat tyre on the demanding terrain. De Barros was third.
Leg two also started in Petrolina and looped around the city in the Pernambuco state in the north-east of the country for 174 competitive kilometres towards Juremal. Navigation was tricky but it failed to prevent Moraes from winning the day by 2min 03sec from Marcelo Gastaldi and extending his overall lead. De Barros came home in third.
« There by km 30 or 40, more or less, I have never seen Kaique speak so much, » said Moraes. « But he got it all right. It makes my job, my confidence much easier. It was very good, excellent. It was another stage for grown men. This year’s Sertões is showing that it’s really going to be tough. Despite being short, today, we had a special difficult and treacherous, easy to get a flat tyre. But the most important thing was that we went well. »
The third stage of 407km between Petrolina and Xique-Xique, the southernmost stopover on the São Francisco River in the Bahia province, was the first start of the Marathon section with no overnight service assistance. Marcos Baumgart claimed his first stage win of the campaign, the Hunter driver beating Moraes by 3min 20sec with Barros coming home in third in his Overdrive-assisted Toyota IMA.
Stage four headed from Xique-Xique back to Petrolina on the second half of the Marathon stage and incorporated 323km against the clock. A broken steering arm ruined Moraes’s day and cost the Brazilian his hard-earned lead on a stage where Barros claimed the stage win from Marcos Baumgart and Gastaldi. The latter gained the unofficial lead from Barros. Moraes collided with a tree as a result of the suspension breakage and the car suffered damage that led to the Brazilian plummeting down the leader board.
The fifth timed section of 213km headed north towards Crato on the banks of the River Granjeiro in the state of Ceará. Moraes was back to winning ways and the Toyota Hilux driver beat Marcos Baumgart by 3min 37sec to claim the stage win. Barros came home in fourth.
« This was a victory with a taste of redemption, » said Moraes.« I don’t know if the biggest impact in the accident was the knock on the tree or the discouragement that struck is because it practically took the chance of the tri-championship. These are things that happen in rallies. Maybe something hit the bottom of the car and broke the bar. »
Stage six saw competitors heading to Sobral in the north of the state for a stage of 312km on August 17th. Moraes was quickest and the Brazilian beat Baumgart by 38 seconds with Barros again in fourth place. Gastaldi continues to lead the race from Barros and Marcos Baumgart. Moraes had unofficially started his climb back from 12th place and held 11th.
From Sobral, the route headed towards Cruz on the Acaraú river, near the northern Atlantic coast for the penultimate stage of 226km on August 18th.
Running first on the road was he root cause of a major setback for Moraes and it also cost Barros second overall and Rosset substantial time. The three Toyota drivers came across a deep river crossing after 46km. Moraes had been the fastest driver on the stage to that point but he, like Barros and Rosset, stopped with water ingestion issues on a special where the win eventually fell to Marcos Baumgart from Gastaldi and Spinelli.
A final shorter special of 98km drew the competition to a close after a run into the finish in the nearby coastal municipality of Prea Cruz on August 19th after over 2,000km timed against the clock in a route of 3,800km. Marcos Baumgart got the better of Cristian Baumgart to claim the stage win but Gastaldi did enough to win the event and Guedes confirmed third place. The three Toyotas that had suffered on stage seven did not start the stage.
Rally dos Sertões – result after SS8
1. Marcelo Gastaldi (BRA)/Cadu Sachs (BRA) Century CR6 Buggy, 28hr 04min 22sec
2. Marcos Baumgart (BRA)/Kleber Cincea (BRA) Prodrive Hunter T1+, 28hr 15min 01sec
3. Mauro Guedes (BRA)/Eduardo Bampi (BRA) Toyota Hilux, 29hr 26min 28sec
4. Carlos Ambrosio (BRA)/Luiz Afonso Poli (BRA) Century CR6 Buggy, 29hr 57min 43sec
5. Marcos Moraes (BRA)/Fabio Pedrosa (BRA) Prototipo T-Rex, 30hr 22min 01sec
6. Pedro Prado (BRA)/Joesane Koerich (BRA) Ford Ranger, 30hr 49min 16sec
7. Paulo Goes (BRA)/Jefferson Teixeira (BRA) Ford Ranger, 31hr 14min 13sec
8. Gunter Hinkelmann (BRA)/Fabricio Bianchini (BRA) X Rally Ranger, 31hr 51min 47sec…
Sylvio de Barros (BRA)/Ramon Sacilotti (BRA) Toyota IMA Hilux Overdrive, DNF
Fernando Rosset (BRA)/Marcelo Duarte Haseyama (BRA) Toyota GR DKR, DNF
Lucas Moraes (BRA)/Kaíque Bentivoglio (BRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, DNF
(T1 or T1+ unless stated)