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Baja Aragon 2023: Spectacular recover of Isidre Esteve in the Baja Aragón

Baja Aragon 2023: Spectacular recover of Isidre Esteve in the Baja Aragón

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  • The Repsol Toyota Rally Team recovered 25 positions in the first special of the Turolense test and grabbed the top 15.
  • The Catalan driver departed delayed after a prologue on a terrain unfavourable for the Toyota Hilux T1+, but has shown a great pace in the long timetable.
  • “I don’t remember having ever been so good in a car. The Hilux was wonderful and we took a faster and faster pace, with more confidence.”
  • “We came out very backwards and advanced fourteen cars on the track. We even made a couple of straight lines, because with the dust we could see nothing. The sensations are impressive.”

Extraordinary start of the Repsol Toyota Rally Team in the Baixa España Aragón 2023. Isidre Esteve and his co-pilot Txema Villalobos have completed the first stage in the 16th absolute position (11th in the T1 category), with an accumulated race time of 2 hours, 23 minutes and 13 seconds, just over 11 minutes from the leader. The benefit is especially meritorious if it is taken into account that the Toyota Hilux T1+ number 215 was 41st in the order of departure, which has forced the Catalan couple to rebound positions between the dust.

The 39th edition of the turolense test, which is scheduled for the FIA World Cup of Low Cross Country, has not begun to ask for Esteve. The day began with a short prologue of 5 kilometers that, in addition to counting for the final classification, determined the order of departure of the special long of the day, of 180 km. The course of the prologue was twisted and rocky, unfavourable for the T1+ and more favorable for light terrain of the T3 and T4 categories. The ilerdense driver and his co-pilot have ceded less than half a minute to the leader, but, with so much equality and such a powerful inscription (93 FIA registered), they have been relegated to the 41st position.

However, once put into the race properly, the Hilux T1+ with the colors of Repsol, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Spain, MGS Seguros and KH-7 has unleashed a demanding pace. Despite running in a cloud of dust, Esteve drove much faster than the cars that preceded him. “We came out very backwards and advanced fourteen cars on the track. We even made a couple of straight, because with the dust we saw nothing,” he confessed.

The Catalan duo has recovered no less than 25 positions, advancing without stopping, to the 16th position in the general. Among the top 30 ranked, no team has rebounded as many places as the Repsol Toyota Rally Team. The gesture has been such that Oliana’s pilot has finished the special prey of euphoria. Once again, it has shown that there are no barriers to competing in the automotive elite.

“I don’t remember having ever been so good in a car. We have taken a faster and faster pace with greater confidence,” recognised Esteve. “We had fun, and the miles went by. A moment I looked at the tablet, we were already taking 80 kilometers and, by a blow, we have arrived at the end,” he explained, directing a look of complicity to his cop Txema Villalobos.

Another reason for optimism for the team is that this participation in the Baja Aragón (the 21st of Esteve in the Spanish classic of the rally raid, the ninth on four wheels) is the first test for the Dakar 2024. Technically, nothing has failed. The equipment has been tuned from the very beginning, the adaptation of the controls on the steering wheel has been perfect and the Hilux T1+ has worked like a watch. As in the previous season, the car uses the lubricants and biofuel from Repsol, produced at 75% from renewable materials, which have also shown great performance in very demanding conditions.

“At the end, the sensations are impressive, we’re very happy because the Hilux was going great. In the shakedown we tested some changes in suspensions and adjustments, and defined a round setup. We’ve changed my position in the car and I’m going more comfortable, and also the brake control. Now it goes very well, and I can now use the brake as well to place the car. The Toyota is a past; I’ve never had it as well as now, I told all the mechanics. We felt really fast,” the pilot said.

With the look put into the top 15 of the general, Isidre Esteve and the Repsol Toyota Rally Team face this Saturday the second and last stage of the Aragon Basse Spain. It will be the day with the most timed kilometers, 327, divided into two specials, of 156 and 171 km, respectively. In total, the test will total 875 km; 512 of which, timed, and 363 in connection.

 

Automatic translation from the Spanish version sent to us by:
Source: Repsol Toyota Rally Team / Mediagé Comunicación

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