Dakar 2023: Joan Font passes the first real test of the Dakar with flying colours

Dakar 2023: Joan Font passes the first real test of the Dakar with flying colours

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  •  The Catalan driver finishes the first long special stage in a creditable 24th position in the T3 category (light prototypes).
  • With his co-driver Themis Lopez, the FN Speed Team driver used caution to overcome the difficulties of the traffic on the track and the navigation.
  • "We have adopted a regular rhythm to get a feel for the car and the race itself. The truck traffic was tough, but everything went perfectly".

Every stage of the Dakar is a test, and Joan Font passed with flying colours this Sunday the first big test against the time trial and the route of the 2023 edition in Saudi Arabia. Together with his co-driver from Aragon, Themis López, the driver from Vic drove the FN Speed Team's Can-Am Maverick to 24th place in the T3 category (light prototypes). They took almost 5 hours (4:58.45, to be exact) to complete the 368 kilometres of the special stage on the first day of the year, just over an hour behind the stage winner, and they occupy the same position in the general standings in their category.

After the first contact on the prologue stage the day before, the first real day of the toughest rally in the world consisted of a 603-kilometre loop, starting and finishing at the Sea Camp bivouac. The special stage had a bit of everything: it started by the Red Sea, then went through mountain tracks, then more open terrain with tricky navigation and even the first dunes of the race, before finishing off-road.

"We approached the stage with a lot of caution, kilometre by kilometre", admitted Joan Font. "Everything went well, but we adopted a regular pace to get a feel for the car and the race itself", he added. It should not be forgotten that co-driver Themis Lopez is making his Dakar debut, although he has a lot of experience in orienteering events. "We had a little trouble validating some of the waypoints, but everything went perfectly", said Font.

The biggest drawback for the FN Speed Team pair was their delayed starting position. "We started in the middle of the trucks and it was tough. For three quarters of the special stage it was all trucks and more trucks; in the middle of the traffic we had a hard time and we also had to go slower", explained the driver, aware that in this Dakar he has to play an important supporting role in the FN Speed Team. Therefore, in this first stage, it was necessary to adopt a "conservative" pace. However, Font made a good comeback during the special: at the first waypoint (km 37), the Doga and Racing Oil rider was 37th, and from there he climbed solidly to finish in a creditable 24th position.

The biggest drawback for the FN Speed Team pair was their delayed starting position. "We started in the middle of the trucks and it was tough. For three quarters of the special, it was all trucks and more trucks; in the middle of the traffic, we had a hard time and we also had to slow down", explained the driver, aware that on this Dakar he has to play an important supporting role in the FN Speed Team. Therefore, in this first stage, it was necessary to adopt a "conservative" pace. However, Font made a good comeback during the special: at the first waypoint (km 37), the Doga and Racing Oil rider was 37th, and from there he climbed solidly to finish in a creditable 24th position.

With the race already underway, this Monday the Dakar caravan leaves the Sea Camp, the nerve centre of the rally during the previous days, the prologue and the first stage, to head for Al-Ula. It will be a 590-kilometre route, with a 430-kilometre long timed special stage, mostly over dirt and stones. Another test for Font, Lopez and the FN Speed Team.

Automatic translation from the original Spanish version available on www.todoterreno.p
Source Joan Font / FN Speed Team official press release

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