Although the 2017 edition of the Dakar Rally has just drawn to a close, drivers Christian Lavieille and Cristina Gutierrez – both of whom relied on BFGoodrich® tires during the race – are here to tell us some of their stories from this year’s adventure.
One of my strongest memories is from the third day. As we left San Miguel de Tucuman, we realised that the day’s driving would be particularly complicated due to the sand and the ground’s fine surface texture. At that point we had a 15-minute lead. As T2 class vehicles are less powerful and heavier, the usual driving technique involves reducing the tire pressure for better load bearing. That’s what our competitors did. Despite what you might have expected, we decided to drive with a high tire pressure. It was an intense day, and I probably wouldn’t do it again, but our bet payed out in the end…. By giving us an hour’s lead over the rest of the field!
Fans are incredible; they always manage to surprise us when we don’t expect it. At the finishing line of the 5th stage, I met a group that had been following my progress from the start. When I went up to them, a young girl starting crying because she was so happy to see me. It made me feel so lucky and so happy too. We took some photos together, I signed their caps with a few autographs and since then we’ve kept in touch over Twitter. It’s amazing!
This is one of the worst things that happened to me during the rally. During the race, 10km after the start of the special stage, my clutch broke. I had no choice but to keep on driving without it for 10 hours, even though the route took us over lots of sand dunes. Thinking back on it now, we did some incredible work and we owe a lot to the traction quality of our tires, which stopped us from getting buried in the sand.