Dakar 2023: Stage 6 - Isidre Esteve enters the Dakar top 25

Dakar 2023: Stage 6 - Isidre Esteve enters the Dakar top 25

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  • The Spanish team has managed to avoid mistakes on a day that was very treacherous for some of the race favorites and is now 25th overall, 23rd in the T1 category.
  • The 919 km of the day forced the Repsol Toyota Rally Team drivers to start with a very full fuel tank, a circumstance that slowed them down at the start of the special.
  • The replacement of the rear differential has neutralized the temperature problems in this element that have affected Esteve and Villalobos in the last two stages.
  • "The car works perfectly and we continue to make progress in the competition. We will have to take advantage of the opportunities we have in the next stages, because they will come."

The Dakar had its longest day of the week on Epiphany: 919 kilometers, divided between 357 timed stages and 562 liaison stages, as a result of the modification of the initially planned route due to the heavy rains of a few days ago. Such a long route forced Isidre Esteve and Txema Villalobos to leave Ha'il with almost 500 liters of gasoline in the tank of their Toyota Hilux T1+ to complete the special stage and the long links planned, a major handicap that has hurt the Spanish crew at the beginning of the timed section, but that has been improving as the kilometers went by. The representatives of the Repsol Toyota Rally Team finished the day in 32nd place in the T1 category - 53rd scratch - and made a new leap in the overall standings to 23rd place in T1 and 25th overall.

The modification of the route of the sixth stage forced a complete change in the team's planning. On a day full of sand and dunes, the T1s had to overcome a double handicap compared to the other FIA categories: on the one hand, the impossibility of stopping for 15 minutes to rest at the halfway point of a new grueling special stage and, on the other hand, the ban on refueling on the section. With these circumstances on the table, it was clear that the day was favorable for the side-by-sides, who can refuel and leave with much less weight.

"We left the bivouac with almost 500 liters of fuel, which we needed to be able to complete the whole day. The start of the stage was characterized by a mostly wet sandy terrain, which was very punishing for big cars like ours. At this point, the extra 120 liters were particularly noticeable compared to the usual load, because it was difficult for us to pick up speed and we were skidding a lot on dirt. However, as the kilometers progressed and the tank was emptied, we felt much better", explains the driver from Lleida.

Other aspects to overcome during the stage were the traffic and the ruts, as the Repsol Toyota Rally Team driver said: "It was difficult to get around the wet dunes with so many truck tracks, and we also had many side-by-sides around us. They are vehicles that were at ease today because, in addition to being lighter in concept, the extension of the route did not affect them in the slightest, as they had refueling points scattered throughout the special and at the end of it. All in all, we have been doing our race and advancing safely and without making mistakes, until, in the last 60 km, thanks to a change of terrain, we felt very comfortable and we rode very fast".

The Spanish crew, which competes with the sponsorship of Repsol, MGS Seguros, KH-7 and Toyota Spain, has set a first goal for its Dakar 2023: "There are only two stages left before the rest day, a moment we will all be grateful for in such a tough edition of the race. In any case, the car is behaving well and I'm sure it will allow us to take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves in the next stages, which will come", said Isidre Esteve.

As for the problems with the rear differential, according to Isidre Esteve, "the complete replacement of the differential has definitely put an end to the temperature problems of the last two days, and this element has not given the slightest inconvenience today. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight, once again, the great work of our mechanics".

The Dakar will leave Riyadh tomorrow for Al Duwaimi, in what could be called a semi-marathon stage. The cars will complete 333 km of timed stages and, after a 94 km liaison, will reach an area set aside for technical assistance for a maximum of two hours. Once the repairs have been completed, the crews will have to complete an extra 240 km of road travel to the bivouac, where the team's Toyota Hilux T1+ will be parked alongside the other competitors without the possibility of receiving external assistance.

Automatic translation from the original Spanish version available on www.todoterreno.pt
Source Repsol Rally Team

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