Isidre Esteve scores his best result limited to a speed of 100 km/h

3 minutes

The Repsol Rally Team ranked 24th despite having raced over 400 km with a malfunctioning prototype.

Isidre esteve en el Sodicar BV6 pasando por una zona encharcada durante el Dakar 2018 con esepctadores al fondo
Isidre Esteve scores his best result limited to a speed of 100 km/h

As we were crossing a really swollen river, the water covered the entire bonnet and upset the electronics


Isidre Esteve

Isidre Esteve was in for an unpleasant surprise during the first few miles of this Saturday’s marathon stage of the race in Bolivia, between La Paz and Uyuni. Just 20 km into the race, his Sodicar BV6 prototype with adapted controls on the steering wheel, suffered an electronic malfunction that prevented him from doing more than 100 km/h. With over 400 km left to go, the Repsol Rally Team still managed to achieve its best partial result so far at Dakar 2018: 24th place and 3rd in its category. Hats off!

The day was doubly tricky. On the one hand, you could see the racers picking up the pace after a day’s rest. On the other hand, there was the danger that the marathon stage always entails: no assistance back at base, which means that even the smallest mistake can cost drivers dearly. With this in mind, Isidre Esteve and his co-pilot, Txema Villalobos, had gone for a clearly conservative strategy which was cruelly torn apart the minute trouble came along.

“Things got complicated as soon as this stage began. We came to a really deep river where loads of vehicles were stuck. We got through alright, but the water was up to the bonnet and the car suddenly slowed down. The fastest we could go was 100 km/h!” explained Esteve.

isidre esteve descansando

The driver admits that the setback caused considerable unease among the Repsol Rally Team: “We panicked a bit at first. We stopped three times to check whether any parts were damaged, but Txema said it was an electronic fault, not a mechanical problem. So we decided to do what we could given the circumstances and keep on going with a positive mind-set, as always.”

Their feat was so impressive that they managed a time of 7h 02’30” in the first stage of this dreaded marathon, allowing Isidre Esteve to finish in an even better position than the 30th place he had achieved in stage 5, which was his best partial result so far. He has scored an overall time of 34h 00’18”, placing him 22nd in the provisional ranking and 3rd in his category, T1.2 (off-road modified diesel 4×4).

This significant landmark leaves a bitter sweet taste due to the concern they all felt. “We’re delighted to have reached the Uyuni camp, where we will do our best to repair the damage, but it looks unlikely if it really is the control unit. Even if we can’t fix it, it’s not the end of the world. We’ll just have to adapt and stay below 100 km/h like we did today. One thing’s for sure: we won’t push the car too much,” summed up the Repsol and Onyx Seguros race driver.

This Sunday comes the eighth stage and the end of the marathon, between the Uyuni military base and Tupiza, where the Dakar caravan will arrive after completing an extremely long and special 498-kilometre stretch, plus another 87 km in between. A truly testing challenge for the Repsol Rally Team.

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