The Repsol Rally Team faces its last big test before Dakar

5 minutes

Isidre Esteve will race in the Morocco Rally from 4th to 9th October with his revamped BV6 prototype with the adapted controls on the steering wheel.

Isidre Esteve con su coche de rally en formación rocosa
The Repsol Rally Team faces its last big test before Dakar

“Because of its characteristics, the Moroccan race is perfect to prepare for the new Peruvian Dakar format and gauge our level”

Dakar 2019 is drawing closer every day and the Repsol Rally Team wants to get there more prepared than ever. That’s why Isidre Esteve will race from 4th to 9th October in the Morocco Rally. His aim is to get his Sodicars Racing BV6 prototype tuned up and see how it runs on a terrain very similar to what participants will encounter next January in Peru.

‘It will be a great test to see how the car runs on the dunes after the latest enhancements we made and check where we are as compared to our rivals’, said the Spaniard, who already tried out for the first time the technical modifications in the Baja Aragón, where he noted major improvements.

The leap wasn’t only in how it felt but how he did. The Repsol Rally Team driver finished the tough race in Teruel, a classifier for the World Cup for Cross-Country Rally, third in T1.2 (4×4 diesel off-road vehicle) and 16th overall, his best world score since returning to competition seven years ago.

Coche de Isidre Esteve recorriendo las dunas
Coche de Isidre Esteve recorriendo las dunas

It was an excellent way to start off the season, although now the challenge is to consolidate that progress and go further, with his eye set on Dakar 2019. ‘We had a good start to the season in Aragón, because we had really positive results in a demanding race, and especially since we demonstrated that we’re getting more and more competitive. That is our goal and to achieve it we have to keep improving in Morocco’, Isidre Esteve explained.

With this goal in mind, his vehicle has undergone a major evolution since last year, when he came in a strong 21st in Dakar. They trimmed 25 centimetres from the front, expanded the suspension stroke by 30 millimetres, and added larger brakes. Another important new feature are its new BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KDR2+ tyres, reserved in last year’s Dakar for official teams.

Isidre Esteve con su coche de rally sobre las dunas
Isidre Esteve con su coche de rally sobre las dunas

‘After the latest modifications, the BV6 is performing exceptionally, especially over dunes, as we saw the past few days in the test runs before the Morocco Rally. Now we’re really excited to try it out in a competition on a terrain very similar to what we’ll encounter in the next Dakar rally’, Isidre Esteve said.

‘The new Dakar-like format in Peru, with dunes, a ton of sand, and navigation, is an advantage for us and that’s why the rally in Morocco will be a terrific test run to see what last minute tweaks we need to do. It’ll also help us gauge our real potential against our rivals since most of the Dakar teams are here for their last tests’, Esteve added.

Isidre Esteve y Txema Villalobos con el coche del Repsol Rally Team
Isidre Esteve y Txema Villalobos con el coche del Repsol Rally Team

He is confident that he’s going into this rally strong after all the prep he did with his copilot Txema Villalobos and the Sodicars Racing trainer.

‘We’ve worked the entire year on plenty of aspects to improve the car’s performance. The goal is to be more competitive and feel safer. Now the prototype makes us feel safer and surer, so we’ll be able to go faster on any terrain’, said the driver from Lérida, whose controls on the steering wheel were adapted by the company Guidosimplex.

The Morocco Rally will be held from 4th to 9th October around Fes and Erfoud. Participants will cover a total of 2000 kilometres — 1362 of which are timed — distributed across a prologue and five difficult stages. The race will bring together a large portion of those going to the next Dakar rally, which will be a good litmus test for the Repsol Rally Team.

‘It will be the last big test for everyone, since in a little more than a month the vehicles will be travelling to South America. I’ll try to make the most of it and enjoy every single kilometre, keeping in the forefront of my mind that our priority is to pick up the racing speed and add competition kilometres to get to Dakar 2019 in the best possible shape’, Isidre Esteve concluded.

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