Dakar 2023: Stage 7 - Joan Font, in "high spirits" in a Dakar with a high level of demands

Dakar 2023: Stage 7 - Joan Font, in "high spirits" in a Dakar with a high level of demands

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  • The driver from Vic and Themis Lopez get through the first part of the marathon stage while taking care of the integrity of their Can-Am Maverick.
  • A steady pace and good navigation allowed the FN Speed Team crew to regain 17th place in the overall T3 standings.
  • "The difficulty of this Dakar for the mechanics and the riders adds more and more fatigue, but we are still at our best".

Joan Font crossed the symbolic halfway point of the Dakar 2023 on Saturday, tired but satisfied with the work done so far with his co-driver Themis Lopez at the wheel of the Can-Am Maverick number 318. On the 333-kilometer special stage 7 between Riyadh and Al Duwadimi, the FN Speed Team team placed 31st in the T3 category (light prototypes) after 4 and a half hours on track, 56 minutes behind the day's winner. In the overall standings, they gained one place and regained the 17th position they had already reached on Thursday, in the fifth stage.

The change in the route due to the recent rains in the area had cut a hundred or so kilometers off the planned special stage, but that did not ease the demands of the day. Especially since the remodeling of the route meant that this seventh stage was run in marathon format, without assistance at the Al Duwadimi bivouac. The teams had a 2-hour assistance zone after the special stage, but it was imperative not to overtax the mechanics.

"We always try to maintain a regular pace, adding stage by stage, but this time we put special emphasis on taking good care of the car, because the stage was a marathon and we had practically no assistance today, just 2 hours", Font remarked. In fact, knowing how to run and take care of the car is the first commandment of the veteran Dakar drivers, because, as they know well, the mechanics have memory...

In addition, the special stage was very demanding, with a large part of the route on dirt tracks and a selective area of trialeras at the end, with a very complicated navigation in some sections, which driver and co-driver have solved with solvency. "The stage was once again very beautiful, but at the end there were a lot of rocks. We were very careful there. There were also very high dunes that forced us to work to the maximum", describes the Doga, Racing Oil and FN Speed rider.

This Dakar is living up to its reputation as the toughest rally in the world. "The truth is that they have put a high level of demand on the route, as the difficulty for the mechanics and the drivers adds up to more and more fatigue," he acknowledges. And the facts prove him right, because this seventh stage has been cancelled for the bikes, precisely because of the fatigue accumulated by the riders, very exposed to the cold and rain these days. "But now we're going for the eighth stage, full steam ahead", says the former Spanish gravel rally champion.

It is clear that he is thinking of the reward that awaits him and all the survivors at the end of Sunday's eighth special stage: the long-awaited rest day in Riyadh. Before that, the second part of the marathon stage will take the caravan from Al Duwadimi back to the Saudi capital for another long day of 824 kilometers, including a 346-kilometer special stage. And then a short rest day before tackling the second week of the race.

 

Automatic translation from the original Spanish version available on www.todoterreno.pt
Source FN Speed Team

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