The start of the 2018 Dakar on Saturday in Lima marked the beginning of Isidre Esteve's latest challenge: to fight it out against top competitors and finish in the top 20. The first stage allowed him to test the Peruvian sand for the first time and get a feel for the 40th edition of the race. The Repsol Rally Team finished the 31 timed kilometres in 77th place, although that may change due to an outstanding complaint.
"The GPS wouldn't validate waypoint 8, located halfway through the stage. It was frustrating because several cars came and left quickly, while we were driving in circles without the GPS detecting anything....After waiting an eternity, along with other cars with the same problem, we decided to leave and continue the stage. Five kilometres later, the waypoint was validated for no apparent reason", explained a bewildered Isidre Esteve upon arriving to the camp.
This unexpected delay cost the Repsol Rally Team's BV6 several places in the standing, with a final time of 1h 07:52. Nevertheless, the driver from Lérida was confident that the complaint filed by his team would be answered. "We explained that the GPS or the antenna was not working properly, and we hope they give us back the minutes we lost. The whole situation has been quite stressful both for me and my co-driver, Txema Villalobos."
Despite everything, Isidre Esteve acknowledged that there were also many positive aspects of the first stage. "The car handles like a dream in the dunes, even considering that the sand in Peru is very soft and it's easy to get stuck. Tomorrow we'll embark on the first real stage of the Dakar, which will be long and complicated. Our strategy is to not make any mistakes and to lose as little time as possible", stated the driver sponsored by Repsol and Onyx Seguros.
The day will consist of 267 timed kilometres and a 12-kilometre liaison. This will be the first loop stage of the 2018 Dakar, which has only just begun.