Claude Fournier: the voice of experience at Desafío Ruta 40
Claude Fournier is the oldest competitor in this 11th edition of Desafío Ruta 40 YPF. The Frenchman is 71 years old (in a month he turns 72), and he races with a Can-Am Maverick X3 of the BBR team in the T3 FIA category. His co-driver is the Polish Symon Gospodarczyk, who told us that Claude «is totally crazy».
Fournier ran the 1991 Dakar and from then on he never stopped participating in Rally Raid races around the world. “This year I did the whole World Championship. I went to Dakar (6th), Abu Dhabi (5th), Mexico (10th), and now I’m in Argentina. My idea is to finish the whole World Championship. It is my second time here, I already came with the Dakar and I love it”, Claude told us. As for the preparation, he does 2 hours of physical activity per day. His favorite activity is riding his bike across the mountains in France.
«I know I’m the oldest in the entire bivouac, but I still have fun in the car», he said. He also gave us his point of view of what it is to run at his age: «After Fiambalá dunes I can say they were not as difficult as they had told me, they are not easy, but with my experience I was able to cross them. I was there when Dakar came here and I remember them being more complicated”, he said after completing Stage 4, where he was delayed in the road section because the SSV’s temperature went up and had to brake 10 times.
The objective for this year is to finish the 5 races of the World Championship and then analyze if it continues next year. What is assured is the respect that everyone in the Rally Raid environment has for him. Claude had stopped racing, but after his wife´s death he decided to return to it professionally and in the bivouac of any race everybody respects him: “When I come across younger drivers, they all say that they respect me for doing what I do at my age. In fact, I try to do my best because sport is an important part of my life”.
The goal for this year is to finish the 5 races of the World Championship and then analyze if he can continue next year. What we can take for granted is that he will always be respected by everyone in the Rally Raid.