“We played the Europa League”

There was talk at all times of motor, but that did not prevent football from leaving the occasional simile to explain the position of Oscar Fuertes (Madrid, 48 years old) and Diego Vallejo (Lugo, 49 years old) facing the next Dakar. The Astara Team duo faces the 2023 edition within a ‘dream team’ in which they will be “the spearhead”, despite having to cede the media “focus” to his new teammates, as the Galician admits: “The stars in this case are them (Laia Sanz and Carlos Checa)”. It is not a way to take pressure off, as the new additions make “the level of demand rise and when you like to compete that is always desirable”, and from the first moment this couple has made it clear that they are here to compete.

They will not do it in “the Champions League”, but “we play in the Europa League”, highlights Fuertes, about his position in a table where “it is the official brands that are going to fight for the Dakar”. What are your ambitions? “Do it very well”: “If we do everything in our power, I would leave satisfied. Then the results that come later will depend on what you do and what others do.” Vallejo complements him: “You can say a position, but it changes a lot from one year to the next. You just have to get there, run and see where we are. From the start they will come out with a different approach to the race because “last year, when we went on the attack, we rolled seven times”, joked the man from Madrid, about an incident that reminded them that “the Dakar is a race every day, very difficult to manage, that you can lose it in a minute”.

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The objective is to add another finish when the edition reaches the finish line in Dammam and the team’s situation will also favor this. “When you have a structure sized for three cars, the responsibility changes. The three cars take a lot of pressure off us, which is what we’ve had in recent years since the project basically rested on our result.” Fuertes says, about a situation that he is doubly grateful for: “These arrivals are good for us, because the day you compete and your challenges are not higher than the last time you stopped competing, then it is better that you stop.” Something that at the moment is not an option.

Neither was the fact of changing co-pilot despite the trend that has led many motorcycle riders to move up to the right seat. Despite the fact that the co-driver “is more than 60% of the result, since they mark the result and the real danger”, the association between Fuertes and Vallejo continues to work perfectly. In this case, it is Fuertes himself who He acknowledges that “from one pilot to another there is not as much difference in time, as with the co-pilot”. And Vallejo finishes explaining his work: “Making another soccer simile, I compare him to a goalkeeper. He doesn’t win games, but he can lose them.” It is clear that they have the same way of approaching the competition and the baggage, he is as much to blame for it as for his ambition to go further: “With more resources you can do better and now we have them. We have to take advantage of them.”

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