Isidre Esteve recounts his most complicated Dakar on his return


Isidre Estevehis co-pilot Txema Villalobos and the rest of the group Repsol Toyota Rally Team They managed to complete a Dakar Rally that started almost unbelievable, but turned into an epic odyssey on the most difficult stage, in the inhospitable desert of the Empty Quarter. Simply reaching the finish line after a sporting setback was a victory for the Spanish team.

“This is the most difficult Dakar, for me and for the whole team. We ran a lot from the start, from the prologue stage, every kilometer, but the mechanics did not accompany us and sentenced our race to the sports level. We come back with the feeling that it could be better, because we worked hard to be as high as possible,” he acknowledged. Isidre Esteve arriving at El Prat Airport.

And that feat was remarkable, because before the halfway point of the race, the Repsol Toyota Rally Team was in 24th overall position, close to the final goal of breaking into the Top 20. Then came the queen, the 48-hours. time trial in the Empty Quarter. “We face that stage with tremendous enthusiasm, because we have rhythm. And the first part of it is great; We did more than 400 kilometers, always riding in the group of the first 20-25. Then, when the front differential broke the next day in the hardest part of the race, with 100 kilometers ahead of the supersoft dunes, everything went wrong. If it’s difficult to cross the sand dunes with the car going smoothly, without the front differential it’s impossible,” said the driver from Oliana (Lleida).

Isidre Esteve explained the odyssey that followed to save the situation and continue the race: “We got stuck in two places and it took us more than five hours to get the car out, each time. We said to ourselves: no one will come to take us out; Either we go out or we leave the car and go by helicopter. We decided to take it step by step and take the car out as best we could. It was getting late and I think we made the good decision to stop sleeping, because in those conditions it was impossible to do the dunes in the dark. We got up at 5 in the morning, and a few hours after the theoretical rest day we finally reached the goal.

The determination of Isidre and his inseparable co-pilot Txema Villalobos has a well-deserved reward: the continuation of the race in full law. Of course, without enjoying that rest day, because the team had to dedicate that day to traveling the thousand kilometers that separate them from Riyadh, to meet the caravan in the middle of the race in the Saudi capital, and then will fix the car overnight. “For us it is important to finish every day, have all the waypoints (mandatory passing points) and always be at the end of each stage,” he said, highlighting the sporting merit of never giving up.

“But the delay accumulated before the rest of the stage cannot be undone. Although there is a week left in the race, we always take the situation. In this race, when you accumulate delays, the mechanics have to work harder harder than it needs to be and everything gets really complicated,” he added.

In this way, the sporting performance of the Repsol Toyota Rally Team was not reflected in the classification, although the Toyota Hilux T1+ number 235 appeared in an honorable 22nd position among the T1+ vehicles. “The changes we made in the Baja Aragón and Morocco Rally, before the Dakar, worked. From the prologue stage we saw that we could run a lot and, in fact, the partials were very good. That’s why it’s bad the feeling that contractions appear later that we do not expect,” he assessed.

And the odyssey in the Empty Quarter left Esteve to translate his rhythm and consistency into the general classification. This year, the driver from Ilerda managed to improve the configuration of the controls adapted by Guidosimplex to the steering wheel on which he drives his Toyota Hilux T1+. Above all, the brake, which in competition cars is used to position the car, as well as to stop it if necessary.

So, for the first time since he competed in a car, Esteve was able to use the brakes as another element in his driving arsenal to be faster and fight the best with the same weapons, without his disability being a handicap. “We know that we have confidence in the car, that we can race and we feel better than before,” confirmed the driver, whose experience shows that motorsport, and particularly the form of rally-raid, is an absolute which includes sports.

“Now we have to study what happened and how to avoid it for future editions,” he concluded. Isidre Esteve has competed in 19 editions of the Dakar, 10 on a motorcycle and, following a spinal injury he suffered in a race in 2007, another 9 by car. Of the two wheels, the one from Oliana was one of the fixed candidates for victory and added two fourth positions as the best results. By car, he finished 21st in 2018 and 2019, on the brink of that Top 20 where he is determined to fight again.

Source: La Verdad


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:



More like this