Isidre Esteve has completed this quick start of the Dakar 2020 with flying colours and is holding up well against rivals with faster cars. After finishing in 34th place this Tuesday in another stage, which is not suited to the characteristics of his BV6 prototype, the Repsol Rally Team driver is already in the general ranking's top 30 in the T1.2 class (4X4 modified all-terrain diesel vehicles).
“Everyone has been going much faster in these first few days and it’s not in our favour, although we are happy to keep moving forward without mechanical problems. We have only suffered the usual flat tyres and the occasional distraction during navigation, which means our experience in the first three stages has been positive”, said Isidre Esteve upon arrival at camp in Neom.
The driver from Oliana, along with his co-pilot Txema Villalobos, had previously completed another difficult 414-kilometre special, with two 30-minute neutralizations. “The stage was incredibly beautiful with three very different sections. The first was very quick, in which we ate a lot of dust until we overtook various buggies and lorries; the second was sandy and had spectacular canyons, during which we made good time; and the third, hillier, with dry rivers which were difficult to drive through”, he said.
The third section was where the Repsol Rally Team driver suffered the two major setbacks of the day. “At 50 kilometres from the finish line, we had a flat tyre and, shortly after, we got lost in an area with dry rivers with other participants that couldn't find their way out either. It was a chaotic moment although, luckily, we didn’t lose too much time”, explained Isidre Esteve.
The driver from Oliana made it through that critical stage quite gracefully, and even gained a few places, arriving at the finish line with a time of 4 hours, 46 minutes, and 11 seconds. The cumulative time adds up to 13 hours, 35 minutes, and 51 seconds — this time is 30th in the general ranking — closing off a group of 10 drivers who are less than one hour apart.
These differences are keeping Isidre Esteve optimistic about the upcoming stages: “We are enjoying a spectacular route, although we are impatiently awaiting the slower specials, with dunes and navigation, which will benefit us because speed won't mark the difference so much. Good placement in this part of the race will be critical for us.”
The Repsol Rally Team rider will have to wait a little longer, since the dunes will be noticeably absent on Wednesday, during the fourth stage between Neom and Al Ula. The participants will have to deal with the cold for 672 kilometres, 453 of which will be timed.