Isidre Esteve finished the Rallye du Maroc in the leading group, affirming the Repsol Rally Team's great success this season. The driver from Lérida completed this challenging race of the World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies in magnificent fashion, reaching ninth place overall and second in the T1.2 category, as well as being the highest ranked Spanish driver in the car category in his prototype vehicle with adapted controls on the steering wheel.
This Tuesday, rally drivers fought it out in the fifth and final stage of the Rallye du Maroc between Erfoud and Fez. The participants travelled the final 457 kilometres with two specials of 128 and 70 kilometres each. Isidre Esteve and his co-driver Txema Villalobos finished the day in 12th place with a time of 2:58:32, enough to put them in the top 10 overall and second place in the T1.2 category, which is reserved for modified all-terrain diesel vehicles.
"Despite it being the last stage, we didn't take it lightly, not in the least, and we had to keep our heads in the game right up to the end. It's been a complicated day with slow areas, rocks, mud, brush.... Overall, we had to deal with the same challenges as the rest of the rally, which has really been a great test for us".
After traversing nearly 2000 kilometres of rugged Moroccan terrain, the Repsol Rally Team has now established itself as one of the best, surpassing even some of the prolific official teams and achieving a total official time of 22:05:23. The final winner of the race is two-time Dakar champion Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Hilux).
"There's still a bit of distance separating us from the leading few teams, but we're thrilled to finish in the Top 10. It's the reward for the all the work we've done up to this point and will give us the strength we need to keep improving. I'm dedicating this result to the entire team and I'd like to congratulate them on all their hard work to adapt the car to my personal preferences", said a grateful Isidre Esteve.
One of the keys to their great performance in this challenging race — besides the fast pace of driving, accurate navigation between dunes, and the reliability of the BV6 prototype in the desert — has been the superb performance of the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KDR2+ tyres, which allowed Isidre and Txema to finish each stage of the race without having to stop and adjust the tyre pressure.
"Generally speaking, we've taken a great leap forward, but the most important thing is that we're leaving Morocco with a wonderful sensation. This race has been a great opportunity to confirm that the car performs well on all types of terrain and allows us to move faster than last season".
In these moments of pure joy, Isidre Esteve highlights that "rally-raid is one of the best examples of inclusive sport. Thanks to the controls on the steering wheel, once the race starts I forget about my spinal injury and I don't feel any different from my fellow competitors. We all have to race the same route, go through the same difficulties, and we're fighting for a top spot in the same ranking. That's just fantastic, and if it weren't that way I wouldn't be competing".
His next challenge is the 2019 Dakar, which he'll take on with more confidence than ever after his grand performance in the two competitions he's participated in this year: the Baja Aragón and the Rallye du Maroc. "We'll already have learnt lots of lessons by the time we get to Peru, even though we've still got a month of work ahead of us before loading the car on the ferry to South America, and we've got to take advantage of every last second", Isidre declares.