Monday, May 27, 2024

Desert Endurance Motorsport bringing quartet to 2024 Dakar Classic

Desert Endurance Motorsport will be a four-car operation at the 2024 Dakar Classic next January, announcing their lineup during the Dakar 2024 presentation at the Iveco Industrial Village in Turin, Italy. The team is overseen by Ermanno De Angelis and Nunzia Del Gaudio in partnership with historic motorsport news platform Victorious and Adrenaline24h.

The most notable driver is Arturo Merzario, an sports car racing star and Formula One alumnus in the 1970s who continues to race well into his seventies. The team had announced Merzario’s entry in February.

Also racing for the team will be Stefano Picasso and Andrea Belometti. Picasso has owned Swiss automaker Picasso Automotive since 2020; in May, the company unveiled the Picasso 660 LMS supercar, which is inspired by Le Mans prototype cars and will see just twenty produced for customers.

Perhaps fitting the Dakar Classic’s embrace of classic vehicles, Belometti has a decorated background in historic regularity races. He has won races like the Mitteleuropean Race and Winter Marathon, and finished runner-up overall in the 2021 and 2022 1000 Miglia.

While Belometti mainly races a 1929 Lancia Lambda Spider and 1937 Fiat 508 in such events, the Dakar Classic will present rather different vehicles of choice for him, Merzario, and Picasso. Desert Endurance Motorsport intends to bring a Nissan Patrols, two Suzuki Vitaras, and an IVECO ACM 80-17 to Saudi Arabia. The IVECO saw action at the 2023 Classic with Brendolan Stefano, who finished eleventh among trucks and a spot behind the IVECO Magirus of team-mate Giuseppe Francesco Simonato.

All four Desert Endurance Motorsport entries completed the 2023 Classic. Besides the trucks, the team fielded a pair of Fiat Pandas for Guasti Francesco and Marco Ernesto Leva, who respectively finished seventh and eighth in the H0 division.

The 2024 Dakar Rally begins on 5 January. Unlike the main rally, the Dakar Classic is based on navigation and permits historic vehicles.