Monday, June 24, 2024

Nicolas Etchamendi-designed SSV to debut in Desafio Ruta 40

A new Light Prototype side-by-side vehicle developed by Nicolás Etchamendi will make its début at the Desafío Ruta 40 in August, competing in the T3 category.

Etchamendi is an engineer who runs Juan Pedro Etchamendi S.A, an import auto parts store in Montevideo, Uruguay. He began building two prototypes in December 2022, completing the chassis by March and submitting it to the FIA for approval. With the blessing of Uruguay’s motoring federation Automóvil Club del Uruguay, the chassis passed homologation last week.

A teams for the car was not immediately revealed, though reports have suggested Luis Henderson as the top candidate to drive with Sergio Lafuente as navigator. Both have competed at the Dakar Rally on quads before switching to cars, with Henderson having raced for both the FIA and FIM Bajas World Cups. Lafuente won the Desafío Ruta 40 on a quad in 2014 and the DR 40 Sur in 2017, along with the 2016 edition as the co-driver for Sebastián Halpern; he called the shots for the T3 of Diego Martinez at the most recent World Rally-Raid Championship round in Sonora, finishing sixth in class.

If things go as planned, the car will be the fourth T3 manufacturer to race in 2023. While the Can-Am Maverick X3 is the most popular vehicle in both T3 and the production-based T4, the Yamaha YXZ1000R Turbo Prototype and MCE-5 T3M are also used; the latter will also increase from one to three entries at the DR 40.

The Desafío Ruta 40 takes place in neighbouring Argentina, making it the ideal location for the SSV to run its first race. However, despite the FIA’s thumbs up, the project is currently incomplete as Etchamendi tries to finish the vehicle in time. The race will begin on 27 August and run through 1 September.