Unbeatable start of the Dakar for Oscar Fuertes and Diego Vallejo

The SsangYong Motorsport team leads the Rookies classification, standing as 30th on the general table.

"The main objective keeps being to finish the race without looking much to the standings.", says Oscar.

"The TivoliDKR is incredible, not a single mechanical problem. We just changed the air filter and little else.", says Diego.

Best Rookie, 30th in the general standings, 4th in the T1.3 category and third best Spanish in cars. These are just some of the merits of Oscar Fuertes in the Dakar 2018, whose ninth stage, between Tupiza (Bolivia) and Salta (Argentina), has been canceled due to the logistical problems caused by heavy rains in the area.

With only five stages remaining, few could imagine that the SsangYong Motorsport team would enjoy such a privileged situation at this stage of the Dakar. "The sensations and the evaluation can’t be more positive. If before the start, they would have asked me for a script of how I would like things to go, maybe I wouldn’t have dared to put it so well.", explains Oscar himself.

"The main objective keeps being to finish the race without looking much to the standings, because every time someone wants to run more than necessary ends up having a problem. Afterwards, we'll see, although if we get it, it's going to be a good position for sure because there is not much rally left and just a few cars are withstanding the hardness of this race.", continues the driver from Madrid.

In addition to his driving talent and a good preparation, the two main pillars of his excellent performance at this Dakar are Diego Vallejo and the SsangYong TivoliDKR. The experience of the Galician codriver at this race has been crucial at the start, as well as his navigational skills, specially in the stages with long off-road sections. "The relationship between Oscar and me is fantastic. He is a great driver, very intelligent and, from my point of view, the revelation of this edition. He is a person with good listening skills and follows up.", says Diego about his colleague.

Additionally, the performance of the TivoliDKR is being exceptional and it has allowed the Spanish couple to rise to the top 30 on the table, overcoming huge difficulties during the race. "The car is incredible, not a single mechanical problem. We just changed the air filter and little else." praises the SsangYong co-driver.

After eight stages, 46 hours 19 minutes and 56 seconds of race (19:15:56 more than the leader of the Dakar, Carlos Sainz) in 2,428 kilometers of special (to which we must add 2,078 km more of liaisons, for a total of 4,506 km), the accumulated fatigue is undeniable, something that has been alleviated in part thanks to the cancellation of this stage. “The cancellation of the stage is good news for us. It is good for the mechanics to have more time to check the car and for us to rest. After so many days, the height, first cold and now heat ... they are obviously noticeable.", comments Oscar.

"We will face the last week as we have done so far, because it has worked well for us. Thinking a lot, not making hasty decisions and being very prudent have been the keys. We must not underestimate any stage because precisely the stage where we had more problems was, a priori, the simplest and, at the end, it turned extremely complicated due to a small mishap with the windshield wiper." recalls a cautious Diego.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, the Dakar resumes with the tenth stage, between Salta and Belen. This first day on Argentina will have a 373 km special and 424 km liaison. The dunes in the initial plateau and navigation in the crossing of rivers at the final section will be the biggest obstacles for the SsangYong Motorsport team and the rest of the survivors of the race.

Follow SsangYong's Tivoli DKR progress

Dakar 2018 Leaderboard