Yesterday Isidre Esteve started his journey to Saudi Arabia, the starting place of the 42nd Dakar Rally, the first to take place in Asia. The Repsol Rally Team driver took off from the Barcelona airport en route to Jeddah, where he will land tomorrow (Friday) morning, after a short layover in Istanbul, Turkey.
“We are already raring to arrive in Jeddah to run the final test on the car, pass the prerace checks and start experiencing the ambiance of the new Dakar in Saudi Arabia. We’ve been waiting for this moment all year and now we can finally say that it’s about to begin”, said Esteve from Terminal 1 of the Barcelona airport.
Dakar 2020 is full of unknowns that Esteve is taking on optimistically: “It will be a new race that will attempt to recover the African spirit of its roots with very long stages and a lot of time in the desert. The race's time in South America was wonderful and we made great friends, but Dakar needed a change and I’m sure that the race this year will be difficult and exciting”.
To take on this challenge as confidently as possible, the Repsol Rally Team has introduced new components into its all-terrain vehicle with adapted controls on the steering wheel. “Over three years with the same car, we’ve made a great deal of progress to become more competitive and it’s working better than ever. We’d like to go from 21st place in the last two races and fight to finish in the top 15, although it won't be easy because the competition gets tougher every year and we are taking on very strong opponents”.
The Oliana-born driver is travelling with his copilot, Txema Villalobos, his partner and trainer Lidia Guerrero, and his trusted mechanics David Pigem and Carlos Méndez. The five members of the Repsol Rally Team will arrive in the Middle East on Friday at 5:20 am local time. They will have a very busy first day, as they will have to perform a brief shakedown and pass the technical checks.
The goal is to verify that their T1.2 class BV6 prototype (4X4 modified all-terrain diesel vehicle) is in perfect condition to start the race on 5 January in Jeddah. The world’s toughest rally will end on 17 January in Quiddiya, after 12 demanding stages and 7,800 kilometres, of which 5000 will be timed. Esteve predicts that it will be “a challenging race from day one, a race full of surprises, so we’ll have to be cautious and never forget that our primary goal is finishing”.