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This may be a first Dakar for Bruno Martins, but the 2017 Portuguese side-by-side (SxS) champion is quietly confident that he and co-driver Rui Ferreira will make it successfully through to the finish line in their maiden outing. The Marinha Grande native, who will turn 37 on the eve of the rally, has been racing buggies and SxS vehicles for over a decade, picking up impressive victories at rallies such as Baja Portalegre 500. After encouraging performances at the Merzouga Rally and the 24 hours of France TT this year, Bruno is now ready to tackle the toughest offroad adventure of them all with Rui, who is set for a serious baptism of fire as he gears up for his first proper race in Peru.
“It's not going to be easy, that's normal. But I expect to get to the finish line, which would already be like a victory. You never know if you'll be able to come back another year, so you want the best possible result from the word go. I've been racing in side-by-side (SxS) vehicles for 10 years. I started out with the first Chinese-made buggies in 2008, then bought an English-built Rage buggy with a bit more power, another rear-wheel drive. My first time with a four-wheel drive SxS came in 2017, and I won the national championship after a big fight, which was very nice. It was then that I thought about the dream of doing Dakar. We've worked throughout the year to be ready. Rui works in my company, and we both have good mechanical experience and knowledge of SxS vehicles. He'll have to learn more about navigation during the Dakar, which will be difficult. As far as the sand goes I didn't have any problems in Merzouga, although the dunes in Peru are bigger. Where I live it's very sandy so it's not going to be a major issue. It'll be tough for everyone. Let's see how it goes and set ourselves the challenge of finishing every day. I think it's going to be OK.”
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