The more difficult the challenge, the better for the unstoppable Isidre Esteve. On Wednesday, the driver from Oliana performed his best section of the 2020 Dakar. And he did so in the longest and most demanding special to date. His outstanding 24th final placing launched the Repsol Rally Team to 22nd place in the general standings.
The fourth stage took place between Neom and Al Ula, with a total of 672 kilometres, 453 of which were timed. Isidre Esteve and his inseparable co-pilot Txema Villalobos have completed their first “clean” day in this Saudi Arabian Dakar and made good time onboard their BV6 prototype with controls integrated onto the steering wheel by Guidosimplex.
“Yesterday, we found a small technical problem in the car and the team did a great job fixing it overnight at camp. Today, the difference was very noticeable. We have taken a step forward to increase speed and perform in our best stage”, said the driver form Oliana.
This progress has allowed them to take advantage of a very positive day, without punctures, and at a faster pace. “We are very happy with our performance in the most difficult special we have had in Saudi Arabia, with dust, rocks, lots of fesh-fesh, and sand. At the beginning, we followed multiple cars, almost in a single-file because there was no space to overtake, but in the last part, the course opened and we were able to overtake multiple rivals. Besides, Txema navigated the most complicated sections very well to finish off the day positively”, said a satisfied Isidre Esteve.
His final time of 5 hours, 4 minutes, and 56 seconds has awarded him 26th place in the stage, a little over one hour off the French winner, Stéphane Peterhansel. In the general standings, the Repsol Rally Team is now in 22nd place in the car category and places sixth in the T1.2 category, which is for 4X4 modified all-terrain diesel vehicles. Isidre Esteve is already the third-best Spaniard in the standings, after Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso.
On Thursday (tomorrow), the drivers will face the dunes for the first time in this unknown Dakar. The fifth stage, from Al Ula to Ha’il, will be 564 kilometres long, made up of 353 km of the special and 211 km of liaison. It should be a more favourable terrain for Isidre Esteve’s driving style, who will try to continue progressing during this tough first week of competition. “We are reaching our initial objectives: managing the road well, protecting the mechanics. We moving in the right direction”, he said.