Spanish Rally Champion Sergio Vallejo making Dakar Rally debut in 2023

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Credit: Sergio Vallejo

Sergio Vallejo is one of the top rally drivers in his native Spain, being the Spanish Rally Champion in 2009 and 2014 and winning the Spain Tarmac Cup GT class last year. Rally raid will be a new foray for him as he is set to make his Dakar Rally début in 2023. He will race a Century CR6 in the T1 class.

His younger brother Diego has competed at Dakar as co-driver to Óscar Fuertes of Astara Team. While the older Vallejo has long been interested in taking part as well, his fascination grew upon attending the race to support Diego. A lack of funding and time to train for the race prevented him from attempting the 2021 and 2022 editions before renting a CR6.

“It has a very similar handling to the dirt Porsche I drove in 2017 and 2018,” Vallejo told La Voz de Galicia. “It is a very bulky car, predictable and easy to drive.”

Nicknamed “The Wolf”, Vallejo has raced in the World Rally Championship, initially only competing in the Rallye de España as the home rally before expanding to multiple starts in 2001. His best WRC finish is ninetenth at that year’s Rallye de France.

Although he has never run a rally raid competitively, the 55-year-old has been testing with his brother in an SSV in Morocco.

“It’s my first time, I worry about almost everything,” Vallejo continued. “There have been World Rally Champions who failed to win the event on their first or second participation. That already says it all about the demand for me. I would like to finish among the best rookies, but if at any moment I feel risky I will slow down because my main objective is to cross the finish line.”

Mario G. Tomé will serve as his co-driver. While Tome has worked as a rally co-driver, he is also a newcomer to Dakar. Vallejo joked to La Región he wanted Diego to do so for him but Fuertes “will not let him go,” but added he believes he and Tomé “make a good team” despite neither having Dakar experience.

The 2023 Dakar Rally will begin on 31 December 2022.

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