- The Catalan rider is ranked 20th in the T3 category in the first part of the marathon stage in the Empty Quarter.
- Together with Themis Lopez, the FN Speed Team rider climbs to 16th place overall, just outside the Top 15.
- "A very difficult stage, with a lot of very choppy dunes, in one of which we have a wheel that went off the road. But the balance is perfect and there are only three days left".
The inhospitable Empty Quarter has put the caravan of Dakar 2023 survivors in check, but Joan Font has managed to save the first part of the marathon stage (without assistance) in the Rub al-Jali desert. His reward was a substantial jump in the general standings in the T3 category. Together with Themis Lopez, the FN Speed Team team placed 20th in the 275-kilometer special stage, a result that puts the Can-Am number 318 in 16th place overall among the light prototypes.
Thursday's stage took the competitors from Shaybah to... nowhere. Desert pure and simple. Dunes, sand and wide dry lakes were the ingredients of a menu that Joan Font described as "very difficult", and where he was not spared from a setback ultimately without serious repercussions. "There were a lot of very choppy dunes, and in one of them we had a wheel slip", he explained, after having spent 4 hours and 23 minutes to complete the special, one hour behind the day's winner.
The rider from Vic also had the opportunity to show his Dakar spirit. As they did on the sixth stage, Font and Lopez stopped to help another side-by-side of the FN Speed team, who was having mechanical problems. The lost time did not prevent the Doga and Racing Oil team from finishing the day's stage in the Top 20 for the third time in this Dakar. Thus, the Catalan driver and his Aragonese co-driver climbed four positions in the T3 general standings compared to the one they occupied the day before, placing them just outside the Top 15.
Overall, Font does not hesitate to make a "perfect" balance of the day. "There are no easy days and everyone is going very fast, but we are here, well placed, and there are only three days left", says the former Spanish gravel rally champion. The first of them will be the second part of the marathon stage, which on Friday will take the participants from the bivouac, in the middle of the Empty Quarter, back to Shaybah, with a 185-kilometer special stage.
Source FN Speed