The 17th edition of Sertões International Rally was the toughest in history - this is the unanimous opinion among pilots and navigators that participated in the competition, between June 23rd and July 3rd.
In this scenario the highest position on the podium could not belong to anyone but him: Carlos Sainz, twice speed rally world champion, and perhaps one of the biggest legends of all times. Beside the navigator, the Spanish Lucas Senra, Sainz finished the race with minimal advantage: 1min04s9 ahead of the pair composed by the Qatari pilot Nasser Al-Attiyah and the German Timo Gottschalk - Sainz's teammates in Volkswagen, and also riding a Touareg Race 2.
Along the ten competition days, Sainz swapped the leadership with the Qatari pilot Nasser Al-Attiyah for four times, and added up a smaller number of victories in the stages (6 x 4). This leadership swapping was partially due to the change of ground faced by the competitors, who had better or worse performance according to their driving characteristics. One of the competition days, the time difference among the two of them was mere 3s9, after more than 3 thousand kilometers raced. The Spanish managed to definitely take the lead only one stage before the last, and finished the competition last Friday (July 3rd) in Natal (RN), with marginal advantage.
"It was an exciting dispute, which lasted until the last stage, and it was a tough fight (with Nasser). Sertões was a real challenge for us pilots and navigators. The specials were long and very demanding, the terrain was extremely varied, and the constant change of the pace on the race demanded total concentration. For my navigator and me it was also a very good test in terms of getting used to work in a race pace. I think we have really achieved this goal. Winning our first rally together against such strong competition in our own team was great (beginning of a partnership)", said the Sertões Rally new winner, reminding that this was his début with navigator Lucas Senra.
The defeat does not seem to bother the second placer too much: "The Sertões International Rally was my first race with Volkswagen, and I am more than happy with the result", defined Nasser Al-Attiyah. "I would like to thank my team, for allowing me such a good premiere. Thanks to this team spirit and to my navigator - with whom I got along very well from the very beginning - I think it is also possible to make the victory in the Rally Dakar come true", finished Al-Attiyah.
"Sertões is among the best in the world", says Sainz
Huge success in 2009 in the audience opinion, the 17th edition of Sertões International Rally officially ended this Saturday (July 4th) with a press conference in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, and was also a unanimity among pilots and teams. All of them highlighted different degrees of difficulty, the variety of terrains along the 5,056 kilometers, and the degree of detail of the road books, besides the organization of the whole race.
"This was a very hard race, but is also one of the best in the world", said Spanish driver Carlos Sainz, world off-road legend, who débuted in Brazil racing - and winning, in cars category - Sertões 2009. "Congratulations to the organization and the audience, that has always been caring and nice to us. But, before anything else, I would like to thank the Volkswagen. It may look easy, because we were always first or second, but it was not. We only achieved this prize as a result of serious and professional work". Two times world champion in speed rally in the 90s, a time when there were many talented drivers, Sainz declared that he would like to race Sertões again. "If the team wishes to, I'll vote yes", he said.
Sainz highlighted the high degree of difficulties offered by the race route: "We had it all, from rock grounds, sand, narrow and wide roads, flooded areas, many jumps... We had a dispute for the first place within our team, but honestly, getting to the end was not easy at all". In his first time at Sertões, the Spanish pilot was surprised by the level of detail offered by the scouting made by the Brazilian Eduardo Sachs, technical director of the race. In 2009, the task had a new item: "For the first time, we used an aircraft to do the scouting, and that made a difference", explained Marcos Moraes, Dunas Race CEO, the organizer of the race. "The aerial phase, that is checked afterwards by a land team, enabled us to find the best route possible. Each year we have managed to get better and better in this aspect. This is also due to a great job performed by my team along the race. My team is really awesome", completed Moraes, another off-road specialist.
Sertões and Dakar - Besides Sainz, other winners also took part in the press conference. Zé Hélio, the winner on bikes, won his fifth Sertões title, equaling Jean Azevedo record. The new champion said that he is going to try and win again in 2010, but he also mentioned trying to win the Dakar Rally. "I hope to come back to Sertões International Rally next year as a winner, or just as a competitor, what is already something important", he said, referring to the difficulty of getting to the end of the race. "The Dakar is a dream, and the Brazilian Honda and myself are going to try and race next edition, trying to break KTM's hegemony. If it is not next year, than we will go on trying", he fired.
Partners with navigator Sólon Mendes and supporter Davi Fonseca, the winner truck driver Edu Piano, highlighted the hard dispute with the trio Amable Barrasa/Guilherme Signoretti/Raphael Bettoni. "Considering my voice - he had a hoarse voice - you can see how tired I am. This was my fourth victory this year (the third in trucks category), but it was the most exciting one", he emphasized. "In the previous years, we practically won the race in the seventh stage, but it was the contrary now, because we fell to the second place in the seventh stage. The team worked so much it was so exciting. We got it (the title) at 45 minutes in the second period, he compared, using an analogy with soccer. "In 2010, Ford is going to put a heavy truck in the race. The team starts working in the project from August on, and I am going to race in it", revealed the champion.
Quads champion Cristiano Batista lived the inverse situation. "I pushed hard during the first five days, and opened a large advantage", he remembered. "After that, I just had to manage. This is a complicated situation for somebody that is used to push hard on the gas, like me. That's why I ended up missing a curve, and making a navigation mistake. But in the end everything went right, and I am very happy now", summarized the champion of Sertões International Rally 2009.
Race ends with big celebration in the dunes in Natal
With five thousand people present, champions arrival took place in Lagoa do Pitangui, one of the most post cards of the Brazilian Northeast
The 17th edition of Sertões International Rally presented fantastic show: over five thousand people directly involved, 5.056 kilometers, 190 competitors, 128 vehicles, ten days and seven Brazilian states - Goiás, Tocantins, Bahia, Pernambuco, Ceará, Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte. In the closing of the big event, this Friday (3), a perfect scenario: Lagoa do Pitangui, 30 kilometers from Natal's downtown, an idyllic scenario and also one of the main post cards of the city.
After ten very difficult stages of competition, in the greatest Brazilian adventure, cars, trucks, quads and bikes were welcome with warmth by the capital of Rio Grande do Norte. A promotional prime (high speed struggling for each point) and the finish line were strategically placed in one of the most visited tourist attraction in Natal, providing unforgettable scenes to competitors, organizers and public present.
The public surround competitors after they arrived and left their vehicles. The one that called more attention, as it was already expected, were pilots of the super Volkswagen team, such as the twice world speed rally champion Carlos Sainz, which was the great winner of Sertões 2009.
"We found a place for the arrival that was actually the ideal scenario for an end with celebration and party. Thus, I hope to thank the support and warmth of the people of Rio Grande do Norte and of all of those involved in the race", said Marcos Moraes, Dunas Race president-director, organizer of the competition.
To welcome champions' arrival, around five thousand people showed up. In addition to seeing machines and pilots closely, the public won prizes and were also able to enjoy the structure set up in the location, with chemical bathrooms, official store, sponsors' stands and boxes for guests.
Enthusiasm with the children - The public's enthusiasm captivated competitors. Many of the enrolled in the competition were touched simply for having finished the marathon of over 5 thousand kilometers. Vice champion of Sertões International Rally 2009, the pilot from Qatar, Nasser Al-Attiyah, who competed next to the German Timo Gottschalk in a Volkswagen Race Touareg 2. Very friendly, he joked with the children present, took pictures and distributed prizes from his team. Later, he made a love declaration:
"I adore Brazil and the Brazilian people", he started, revealing that this is his fourth visit to the country, but the first on business. "It is really cool being close to the public here and I hope to be back in 2010 to win again this amazing experience. The race was sensational", said the vice champion.
* The views and information in this press release are solely from the driver or team listed in the release. If you have any questions please contact the driver or team directly.
Sertões 2009 Results
1 - Carlos Sainz/ Lucas Cruz Senra, Race Touareg 2 - 29h16min40s1
2 - Nasser Al-Attiyah/ Timo Gottschalk, Race Touareg 2 - 29h17min49s5
3 - Jean Azevedo/ Youssef Haddad, Mitsubishi L200 Evolution - 33h09min42s8
4 - Roberto Reijers/ Rogério Almeida, Ford Ranger - 34h52min01s7
5 - Felipe Bibas/ Emerson Cavassin, Mitsubishi L200 Evolution - 35h08min33s3
6 - Maurício Neves/ Eduardo Bampi, Race Touareg 2 - 35h16min40s3
7 - Luiz Facco/ Sílvio Deusdará, Mitsubishi L200 RS - 35h38min09s4
8 - Richard Vaders/ José Antônio Spacassassi, Sherpa - 37h04min06s2
9 - Jarbas Caiado de Castro/ Wallace Von Schimidt, Sherpa 2 - 37h07min59s7
10 - Romeu Franciosi/ Deco Muniz, Sherpa - 38h16min40s9
1 - Zé Hélio, Honda CRF 450X - 34h17min57s5
2 - Denisio do Nascimento (Deni), Honda CRF 450X - 35h17min10s6
3 - Juca Bala, KTM EXC 450R - 35h46min47s1
4 - Sérgio Augusto Klaumann (Guto), Yamaha WR 450F -36h42min11s4
5 - Jacek Czachor, KTM 690 Rally - 37h14min28s2
6 - Rodolpho Mattheis, KTM 450 ECX - 37h14min38s9
7 - João Ricardo Geaquinto (Jotão), KTM EXC - 38h16min51s0
8 - Sergio Ferraz Ribeiro Filho (Serginho), KTM ECX 530 - 38h18min26s0
9 - Dimas Mattos, KTM 690 Rally - 38h18min45s0
10 - Ezair Rodrigo Bossa (Maninho), KTM XCW 450 - 38h56min25s5
1 - Edu Piano/ Davi Fonseca/ Sólon Mendes, Ford F4000 - 26h33min54s30
2 - Amable Barrasa/ Guilherme Petrine/ Raphael Bettoni, Ford F4000 - 26h37min15s00
3 - Guido Salvini/ Weidner Moreira/ Fernando Chwaigert, Mercedes-Benz Atego 1725 - 32h07min25s70
4 - Ulysses Marinzeck/ Evandro Luiz/ Jose de Carvalho, Ford 1722E Cargo - 35h13min28s30
5 - André Azevedo/ Maykel Justo/ Ronaldo Pinto, Mercedes-Benz Ateto 1725 - 50h02min45s50
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