Isidre Esteve reached a historic milestone in the Rallye du Maroc by finishing the fourth stage in 10th place and breaking into the top 10 in the general classification in his vehicle with adapted controls on the steering wheel. The Repsol Rally Team driver is just one day away from successfully completing this challenging race from the World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and showing that his disability doesn't stop him from competing with the best.
For years, the driver from Oliana has been working hard to be part of the small, exclusive group of competitors that fights it out to win stages in the Dakar. In his tireless desire to improve, today he has shown that he is closer than ever to his goal by bagging an extraordinary result in a World Cup race driving his BV6 Sodicars Racing prototype.
"I'm really pleased because we have shown that our strategy is working well, that we are increasingly competitive, and that we are more confident than ever before. This result is the payoff for a lot of hard work before the race and it's a real morale boost for the team before Dakar", said a happy Isidre Esteve.
The stage took the drivers through the areas surrounding Erfoud, with a 342-kilometre special that Isidre Esteve and his co-driver Txema Villalobos completed in 5h 21:42. "We're happy but tired because it has been the longest and most difficult day of the rally so far, with many kilometres of dunes, tracks, and rivers. Apart from a few minor mistakes with the road book, everything went smoothly and, overall, it's been a great day for us", said the driver from Oliana.
His reward was a top-10 finish, a victory that tasted extra sweet for Isidre Esteve after so many years of sacrifice: "Seeing the classification and how high up I was made me feel really good, most of all because of the high standard of the other drivers and cars taking part in the race. It's really satisfying to compete and feel just like any other driver, I've always said that motor racing is the best example of inclusive sport, and it's been a long time since I've thought about how things would be without my spinal injury".
After driving for more than 19 hours over five days and covering over 1500 km of Moroccan tracks and dunes, Isidre Esteve has secured a brilliant ninth place in the general classification and is second in his category reserved for modified diesel all-terrain vehicles. He achieved all of this despite the 45 minute penalty he received yesterday after validating two way points in the wrong order.
He will start the last stage of the rally as the highest ranked Spanish driver in the car category, in a 457-kilometre route between Erfoud and Fez with two specials of 128 and 70 kilometres, respectively. "I'm sure it'll be another complicated day and we'll have to keep full concentration at all times as, in this race, there's no such thing as an easy stage", predicted the smiling Isidre Esteve.