These situations are bothersome because we want to put more miles behind us to prepare for the next Dakar rally as best we can.
Isidre Esteve keeps moving forward at the Morocco Rally, whose second stage, held on Saturday, could not be completed because the tracks had been compromised by the rain. The race was called off at CP1, which the Repsol Rally Team driver had crossed in 29th overall place with his Sodicars BV6 prototype, fitted with adapted hand controls on the steering wheel.
It had promised to be a complicated contest: 220 of the 235 miles (378 of 354 kms) to cover in the outskirts of Erfoud would be timed. Some 81 miles (kilometre 130) into the race, however, the drivers came across a number of riverbeds (known as “wadis”) which had burst their banks because of heavy rainfall in previous days. Unable to guarantee a safe crossing, organisers opted to call off this part of the race.
‘There’s been heavy rainfall in the area lately and parts of the track were very muddy. We were able to cross the first river we came across without much difficulty, but, up ahead, we ran into another that was impossible to cross and they called us to a stop at the first check point’,, the Repsol and Onyx Seguros driver told us.
Until the suspension, Isidre Esteve and his co-pilot, Txema Villalobos, had covered the distance in 1 hour, 32 minutes, and 21 seconds. Before the official rankings were announced, the Repsol Rally Team figured in 22nd overall place and 8th for the T1.2 category, reserved for modified diesel 4x4s.
‘Even though we were keeping a good pace, the cancellation of this part of the race is a nuisance, because the first stage was very fast and that works against us. It’s a shame, because the best part of the day, the more technical part of the race with the first dunes, was ahead’ , said the driver from Oliana with regret, resigned.
Weather permitting, on Sunday the drivers will face the first part of the 2017 Morocco Rally marathon stage. This stage of the race is also the longest special segment, covering a total of 357 timed miles (578 km). Dunes and expert manoeuvring will take centre stage as the drivers make their way to the Erg Lihoundi campsite, where the caravan will spend the night without any possibility of receiving external assistance.
‘We hope to be able to race in the marathon stage normally, because, whatever the results are, what we’re interested in is in accumulating as much mileage as possible. We’ve come to prepare for the Dakar rally and perfect our car as much as we can’, Isidre Esteve concluded at the campsite in Morocco.