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·         Demanding Brazilian event starts with Prologue in Goiânia on Saturday


GOIÂNIA (BRAZIL): Fresh from finishing a solid fourth in last weekend’s Baja Spain Aragon, the Brazilian duo of Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin have travelled across the Atlantic to their native Brazil and will drive an Overdrive Racing-run Toyota Hilux at the demanding eight-day Rally dos Sertões.


The event starts with a timed Prologue stage on Saturday (August 1st) and finishes at the stunning location of Foz do Iguaçu (Igaucu Falls), near the riverside frontiers with Argentina and Paraguay, on Saturday, August 8th.


The duo became locked in a thrilling three-way battle for the lead in 2014 and are keen to lift the prestigious title on this occasion in Brazil’s premier off-road rally. They claimed five selective section wins and the Prologue last year and reached the podium in Belo Horizonte after a stunning battle with Cristian Baumgart and Guilherme Spinelli. This was despite a time consuming puncture and a 10-minute time penalty. 


“This is an important event in the off-road calendar and, obviously, it’s one that Reinaldo and Gustavo really want to win because it’s their home event,” said Overdrive’s Belgian team director Jean-Marc Fortin. “After such a close finish last year, we are going for the win with the new Hilux IRS (independent rear suspension) 2015 version.”


Varela won the Prologue in Goiânia last year and the sections between Goiânia and Caldas Novas, Catalão and Paracatu, Paracatu and San Francisco, San Francisco and Diamantina and Diamantina and Belo Horizonte to reach the podium locked in a frantic tussle with his two rivals after 18 hours of racing across the remotest terrain in Brazil. 


Rally dos Sertões began with the formation of Rally São Francisco in 1991, although this event was only open for motorcycle competitors. The first edition of Rally dos Sertões took place in 1993 from Campos do Jordão to the beaches of Rio Grande do Norte. It continued to grow in popularity and four-wheel drive cars were permitted to compete for the first time in 1995. 


For the 23rd running of the event this year, main competition for Varela’s Divino Fogão Rally Team entry is likely to come from Spinelli and Baumgart once again, although the likes of Marcos Baumgart, Davison José Rabecchi and Michel Terpins also feature at the head of an impressive all-Brazilian 39-car entry. 


Action gets underway with a timed Prologue stage in Goiânia on Saturday and the first stage on Sunday (August 2) guides teams south from Goiânia to Rio Verde. From there, the revised route heads through Itumbiara and São Simão on August 3rd and August 4th and on to Três Lagoas on August 5th


The fifth selective section heads further south from Três Lagoas to Euclides da Cunha Palista on August 6th and on to the finish in Foz do Iguaçu on August 8th via the penultimate stage between Euclides da Cunha Palista and Umuarama.