Returning to the sand dunes is a serious ordeal
Sharing the impressions of the first day, V. Žala admitted that after a two-year break, returning to the dunes was not easy to orientate in. He was extremely careful and in no hurry to get used to the unusual image.
“I don’t see exactly where the dune contours end and where the highest places are – the fractures. Eventually Paulo started calling me, but in this case he was in no hurry – it takes time for me to get used to it. The most important thing is that nothing happened during those almost 20 kilometers, even though there were some dangerous dunes, ”the racer commented.
An additional test for the crew of Teltonika Racing was the deep tracks left in the sand of 28 cars that started before them. However, the athletes did not dare to increase the mileage by lowering the tire pressure further, as they also had to overcome rocky sections.
The organizers also warned the participants about the waiting tests in the dunes, but V. Žala noticed that the whole speed section was not very difficult – some sections could be overcome by pushing the accelerator to the bottom.
The fastest crews will choose the starting positions
Strategic planning in Dakar begins on the first day. The crews of the ten cars that have completed the fastest qualifying stage have the opportunity to choose the desired starting position, starting from the slowest. The racer who achieves a better result in the introductory stage is entered in the selected position, and the entire line-up is shifted. In this way, only the leader of the first day, who does not necessarily decide to drive first, can be assured of the desired starting position.
The fastest on Saturday was Nasser Al-Attiyah, driving a T1 + Toyota Hilux with Carlos Sainz on the heels with a hybrid Audi RS Q e-tron. Sebatien Loeb, who was once again behind the wheel of an improved exotic BRX SUV, competed with the leaders in the introductory stage, but this time finished fifth.
The length of the qualifying stage was only 19 kilometers, which the rally marathon participants covered in sand, stony ground and even dunes. However, the drivers’ work did not end there, as it was followed by a long 595-kilometer journey to Chail, in the vicinity of which a ring road of the second day was formed.
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