Isidre Esteve put in a brilliant performance on Tuesday during the second stage of Dakar 2019. The Repsol Rally Team driver set a strong pace with his BV6 Sodicars Racing prototype, which allowed him to finish the special in 24th position overall and 8th in his category, T1.2. This great partial result — the second best for him since competing in a car — has allowed him to climb ten positions in the provisional overall ranking and he's in the top 30 for the first time in this edition.
The stage started in the early morning in Pisco, Peru, ending in San Juan de Marcona after 553 kilometres, 342 of which were timed. Isidre Esteve and co-driver Txema Villalobos started in 40th position behind some UTV cars that are slower than theirs.
"During the first 150 kilometres of the special we suffered a little due to the dust that the buggies in front of us threw up in their wake. Until we overtook them we couldn't set our own pace and end up driving as fast as we wanted”.
The driver from Oliana completed the special in 4 hours, 8 minutes, and 33 seconds, 41’40” behind the winner, Frenchman Sebastian Loeb. "We are happy because we have been able to compete at a good pace, safely, and without any mechanical or navigational problems. We got the pressure right on the BF Goodrich tires and we didn't have to stop to inflate or deflate them, which allowed us to gain time”.
In the general ranking, Isidre Esteve has gained ten positions and has climbed to a provisional 29th place, with a cumulative time of 5 hours, 28 minutes, and 32 seconds. “Today we have achieved a good result, especially if we consider that there are very fast drivers in this Dakar. I would be lying if I said that I do not look at the ranking...of course I look at the end of each day! But that doesn't take away from what is really important, which is that we have set a good pace”.
These positive feelings allow him to look forward to the next days of Dakar 2019 with optimism. “This has only just begun and the toughest is yet to come. Surely the difficulty will gradually increase as the race goes on and many things will happen, because the leaders are pushing hard and some could pay dearly for it”.
There is the possibility that, just like in last year's Dakar where he finished 21st, Isidre Esteve could take a week to reach the top 25. He finally reached 24th place in the seventh stage, which did not improve until the 13th stage where he finished 23rd and achieved his best partial result since racing the Dakar in a car. A significant fact that is cause for optimism and reflects the significant progress made by the Repsol Rally Team.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, Isidre Esteve and Txema Villalobos will face the longest day of Dakar 2019 between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa, covering a total of 798 kilometres with 331 timed kilometres. “In that area last year we experienced the hardest stage in Peru because the sand is softer than in Pisco and it is easy to get stuck. We will continue as before, trying to set our own pace, without damaging the mechanics or making navigational mistakes”.