Buenos Aires, Argentina -- Marco Bulacia and Claudio Bustos cruised through the short final special stage of the 2017 Dakar Rally to ensure that they steered their South Racing Ford Ranger safely to the finish podium in Buenos Aires in 20th overall.
The Bolivian and his Argentinean navigator had overcome minor issues during the course of 12 punishing days, where Mother Nature forced the cancellation of two special stages and temperatures fluctuated wildly from the mid-forties Centigrade to sub-zero at altitude.
The Ford Ranger was reliable and competitive from the start and it was fitting that Bulacia should complete the event in the top 20, having finished 21st with South Racing in 2016. He completed the final special in 16th position to secure the top 20 finish.
The only setback for the team was the loss of the DMAS South Racing Ford Ranger of Spaniard Xavier Pons and his Argentinean navigator Ruben Garcia on the second special stage in Argentina. Pons had been second fastest on the opening special in Paraguay before crashing heavily on the run across the Grand Chaco the following day.
“The rally started superbly for us with Xevi (Pons) taking second position on the Prologue and, up until his accident on day two, he was running in the top three on the Dakar and in the split times,” said Scott Abraham, managing director of South Racing. “This showed the true potential of the Ford Ranger. Marco ran a very conservative and solid rally to 20th overall.
“The weather played a key role. We lost some of the bigger stages that could have affected some of the overall positions. The navigation was also tough. Marco lost a waypoint as well and that would have put him higher in the overall classification. Saying that, I think they did a great job to get into the top 20. The mechanics worked in some of the hardest conditions we have seen on the Dakar or in any race around the world. A big thanks to them and to all our partners, who have supported us on the Dakar and throughout the year.”
Bulacia’s latest generation South Racing Ford Ranger was prepared by Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) with collaboration from South Racing. Bulacia had additional backing from YPFB, Vialco, Hard Rock Santa Cruz, BOA and Ende for his second Dakar with South Racing.