Isidre Esteve is feeling ready to lead a great second week at the Dakar Rally. With half of the South American race behind him, the Repsol Rally Team driver is following his initial plans. After placing in the top 30 in the overall classification, the Lérida-born driver now faces the decisive part of the race with high spirits and a clear objective: make it into the top 20. If he achieves this, it will be a milestone for inclusive sport with his BV6 prototype from Sodicars Racing with adapted controls on the steering wheel.
“Our aim was to complete the first week at around 30th place and we’ve done it, despite the huge difficulties we’ve faced. We knew how to adapt to the problems and we’re sincerely very happy to have finished the marathon stage without losing time and even gaining a couple of places in the overall classification”, Isidre Esteve confesses.
After passing the huge test of the Peruvian dunes with flying colours, the Repsol Rally Team experienced its weakest moment in Bolivia, where the water and mud damaged the control unit and brakes of the vehicle. “We couldn't go above 100 km/h and that caused a few overwhelming moments, but we knew how to keep calm and we decided to change our mindset to adapt our driving to each scenario and, above all, not break the car. In the end, everything went better than expected, because we not only didn't lose time, but we also gained places”, stated the driver with great satisfaction.
After recognising that “we can go much faster than we’ve been going up until now,” he affirmed that he's “very satisfied with the current results,” and he had a hopeful message: “We should be optimistic for the coming stages. Frankly, we can do a great job, and we are sure that we will do it. If we are able to have a day without problems, I’m sure we can get into the top 20 because the car is strong and my co-driver Txema Villalobos is having an impeccable Dakar”.
It’s no coincidence that Isidre Esteve holds 23rd place in the overall classification and is the second best Spaniard, after leader Carlos Sainz. In addition, the Oliana-born driver is in an exceptional third place in the T1.2 class, reserved for 4x4 off-road diesel cars, with his BV6 from Sodicars Racing with adapted controls on the steering wheel by Guidosimplex and tyres by BFGoodrich.
These are excellent provisional results that Isidre Esteve driver expects to improve in the remaining five stages of Dakar 2018, all of which take place in Argentina. “My moral is high and although I’m obviously a bit tired because we’ve got a lot of kilometres under our belts, I’m doing great physically. I haven't had any skin problems thanks to the Smart Cushion that allows me to drive for many hours without developing skin ulcers like I have in the past and to focus only on competing”, stated the Repsol and Onyx Seguros driver.
He has such a positive attitude that he was even sorry to hear that the stage set for Monday had been cancelled, a decision made by the organisation due to weather altering the logistics of the race: “It’s a shame because I would personally have preferred to participate in the stage in good conditions, although I know the cancellation will give us more time to repair the car after the difficult marathon”.
Isidre Esteve and the entire Repsol Rally Team will have to wait one more day to get back in action. Stage 10 from Salta to Belén starts on Tuesday. It is 795 kilometres total, of which 372 will be special.