Renegade 4x4 racer Sebastian Palma won the 4x4 ATV (class 2) at the 2013 Dakar for Team Nextel Huawei by Can-Am. (Can-Am Sudamerica image)
Team Nextel Huawei by Can-Am had a successful running of the 2013 Dakar Rally as a total of 10 Can-Am vehicles completed the grueling 14-leg, three-country endurance race and its Renegade 800R pilots swept the 4×4 ATV (Class 2) podium. Led by Chilean racer Sebastian Palma Gonzalez, who won stage seven on his Can-Am Renegade 800R X xc ATV and finished fifth overall in the overall quad category on his way to earning the Class 2 title, the team saw six of its nine entered quads complete the rugged 14-day journey from Lima, Peru, to the finish line in Santiago, Chile. Along with the four-wheeled ATVs, Team Nextel Huawei by Can-Am also had all four of its Commander 1000 X side-by-side vehicles finish all 4,900+ miles of the 2013 Dakar Rally in South America.
Palma put in a galant effort aboard his Renegade ATV and made a little history as well. He became just the fourth (at the time) Chilean to win a Dakar stage in the 35-year history of the legendary race. Stage eight saw the 35-year-old racer, who fought hard to finish 69th in the car category in 2012, made the podium with a solid third-place finish. Two stages later and after his eighth-place finish, Palma had climbed to fourth overall and stretched his 4×4 (class 2) lead even more. He wrapped up the Dakar with solid finishes during the final five stages to easily secure the 4×4 class title and accomplish a goal he set for himself after last year’s competition.
“It is a great pride as a Chilean to be here in Santiago celebrating having completed the Dakar. I want to thank all at Team Nextel Huawei by Can-Am for their work and companionship. Starting this Monday, I will work to compete again in 2014,” said Palma in the canamtours.com/br site report.
Sebastian Palma, winner of the 4x4 ATV class, taking on the sand in Chile. (Can-Am Sudamerica Image)
The Dakar site racer bio page mentions Palma was inspired by his endurance and determination to finish in 2012 and came away looking to improve on his previous results in 2013. His bio pointed to his training and endurance regimen, his planning, support and a veteran’s poise as contributing factors to his objective for this year. And now that the race is complete and Palma is the 2013 4×4 ATV class 2 Dakar champion and made history, one has to think he’s thrilled to accomplish his mission. However, there’s something about that stage seven victory that says this guys’ not done yet and won’t be satisfied until he’s the overall quad category winner. Stay tuned!
Finishing second to Palma was Argentine and fellow Renegade racer Claudio Clavigliasso. The Rally Raid Mazzucco Can-Am Argentina team racer ended the 2013 Dakar ninth overall and posted three top 10 overall finishes, stages five – seven, during the race. The Canamtours.com report says Clavigliasso was so moved by reaching the finish that he dedicated his Dakar medal to his wife, Monica. Not only was it her birthday and a show of compassion for his wife, but also could be viewed as a gesture of support and inspiration. Why? Because she plans to make her Dakar debut on a Can-Am at next year’s rally.
The third spot in the 4×4 ATV (class two) ranks went to Chilean Rodrigo Ramirez, who is more than just another racer. Ramirez wears many hats as he serves as a Can-Am distributor, Team Nextel Huawei by Can-Am director and Renegade 4×4 pilot. By racing he not only proves he’s connected to the product, he also overcame the previous two years of his own Dakar demons, so to speak. After his two prior Dakar efforts (2011/2012) ended early with withdrawals after accidents, his 2013 campaign ended with a spot on the 4×4 class podium, 18th overall in the quad category and, perhaps most importantly, a prominent spot to watch his other teammates roll across the finish line.
Rodrigo Ramirez, who was third in the 4x4 ATV ranks, publicly announced that for the 2014 Dakar the team will run the brand new Maverick 1000R. (Can-Am Sudamerica image)
Along with fellow Team Nextel Huawei by Can-Am racers Ricardo Vinet (4th in class) and Diego Martinez, Ramirez was on hand to greet and support the the top-finishing Can-Am Commander driver Brazilian Reinaldo Varela and the remaining Can-Am racers. Team Nextel Huawei by Can-Am ATV racers benefitted from the special mechanical assistance of Spanish Carlos Avendano.
Marcelo Fernandez, of the Rally Raid Mazzucco Can-Am Argentina team, also finished Dakar aboard his Renegade ATV, finishing 24th overall in the category.
The entire side-by-side vehicle racing effort for Team Nextel Huawei by Can-Am was memorable because all four racers completed the race and the Commander also won four stages. Varela’s 2013 Dakar effort was especially memorable because the 53-year-old racer successfully navigated the challenging course solo (read: NO navigator) and did so with impressive results. He grabbed the third spot on the UTV podium and took 57th in the overall car category in his Can-Am Commander 1000 X side-by-side vehicle. In fact, all four Commander teams that entered the Dakar completed the race and proved the durability and capabilities of the Commander. Can-Am was the only brand in the UTV class to finish 100 percent of its participants with a rec-utility vehicle versus other brands with sport-designed units.
Reinaldo Varela, Can-Am Commander 1000 X racer, was 57th in the car category and 3rd in the UTV ranks at the 2013 Dakar. (Can-Am Sudamerica image)
Varela was followed in by Chilean Francisco Lopez and his Argentine navigator Sebastian Scholz, who made up for a disappointing run a year ago. He withdrew from last year’s rally in stage three, but in his third Dakar campaign (he finished 11th overall on an ATV in 2011) he piloted his Commander to the finish line and took 60th overall in the car segment. Colombian Martha Marino and her co-pilot Carlos Bustamante also had a great showing in their first ever Dakar. Marino, the lone female pilot in the car category, proved she spent years preparing for the 2013 dakar and her successful 88th place finish (cars) and fifth in the UTV class spoke volumes. Chileans Pablo Donoso and Juan Pablo Cerda earned sixth overall in class and made it a perfect 4-for-4 at the finish for the Commander side-by-side.
Colombians Martha Marino (driver), the lone women in the car category, and Carlos Bustamante (navigator) were fifth with their Can-Am Commander 1000X in the UTVs, completing the Dakar in their first attempt. (Can-Am Sudamerica image)
Not to go unnoticed, mechanic and performance tuner 4WD Jaton Racing contributed to the outstanding effort by preparing the Commander side-by-side vehicles for Dakar, but the drivers did the rest of the work. On the podium Team Nextel Huawei by Can-Am manager Rodrigo Ramirez spoke more about the team’s resiliency, determination to finish and just how big a message it sends to the off-road industry.
“Many teams, who have spent years in this and they have buggies, got tired of telling us: Can-Am, nice job, nice job. [It's] Something really amazing that everyone has reached the goal, considering that our UTVs have only two years of development in rally.” Ramirez said in a report by Juan Pablo Rodriguez, Huawei Press Team Nextel by Can Am. “We have four Chilean to win a stage in the history of the Dakar (Sebastian Palma the fourth). We are first and third in the 4×4 series, we have the only woman in the world to finish the race car and accomplish something that no one could believe and is that the four UTVs that left in Lima reached the finish in Santiago.”
Ramirez also spoke about how the team will be competing in the new Can-Am Maverick 1000R side-by-side vehicle in the 2014 Dakar.
The racers and the Can-Am team has proven itself in the 2013 Dakar rally, that is clear. We can’t wait for 2014.