Isidre Esteve paid the price of an unlucky start yesterday and had to spend almost the entire second Dakar stage driving through a cloud of dust, as he started with slower vehicles including SxS and trucks. Nevertheless, Esteve was able to gain several places and finished 34th in the overall race and 7th in the T1.2 class with his Repsol Rally Team BV6 prototype.
One of the new aspects of this second stage was that participants shared the start including cars, side by sides, and trucks. This notably hindered Esteve, who, after finishing the first stage quite late as a result of two punctures, was forced to start in 69th place, behind a number of much slower vehicles.
“It was a tough day due to the dirt and traffic that we faced during the race. In the beginning, it was hard to get up to speed because of the puncture and, afterwards we spent almost 130 kilometres behind three trucks which we couldn't pass due to the terrain. We also got lost in a canyon and wasted some time there”, explained the Oliana-born driver with resignation upon his arrival at the team’s camp.
His final time of 4 hours, 25 minutes, and 59 seconds at the end of the day placed him in 34th in cars and 7th in the T1.2 class, reserved for 4x4 modified all-terrain diesel vehicles. Generally, the Repsol Rally Team has risen several places and is now in 31st, with a total accumulated time of 8 hours, 49 minutes, and 40 seconds, less than one hour off the top 15, their key objective for Dakar this year.
“Although the results may not reflect it, our overall outlook is very positive and both the car and the team are working perfectly. That’s why we’re sure that it won’t take long for us to find our race pace and get where we should be”, Esteve said optimistically.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) the Repsol Rally Team will have a new opportunity to gain even more positions in the third stage, which starts from and finishes in Neom. It is an almost 500-kilometre circular route with 414 canyons, mountains, and sand including the highest point of Dakar 2020 at 1400 metres. For the second day in a row, the organization will give participants the road book only 15 minutes before the start. “The road book is really descriptive and Txema Villalobos knows how to interpret it perfectly. We love the new system and hope it will always be like this”, asserted Esteve.