|Dakar Rally 2013: Ales Loprais - "We know our rivals - Kamaz and Iveco".|
The first stage was meant as a worming-up. However, it did not go without problems. For example, Marcel Schoo with his crew in his Tatra Phoenix got stuck in sand dunes 4 km after start. He got stuck in bad accessible place and had to wait to the members of Ginaf Riwald Dakar Team, whose rescued them from the sand.
The 13 km long stage distance firstly tested the qualities of all the teams a divided the the competitors by their skill. The outstanding scenery of Pacific coast was an amazing background worthy the hardest competition in the world. The whole stage rarely lacked the superelevation.
Even though the amount of kilometers was small, it did not mean the drivers did not race at all. Everyone wanted to show the best of themselves, plus it was an attractive stage for fans, so it was another reason why they tried to win.
On the ceremonial start the first racer was an winner from Dakar 2012, Gerard de Rooy, followed by Eduard Nikolaev from Kamaz and Marcel van Vliet in MAN. And right after those there were Ales Loprais, Serge and Radim with their "Tatra Princess 69" and the Czech flag. But even after them there were the racers quite the same famous and dangerous. From many we can name for example Hans Stacey in Iveco or Ayrat Mardeev in Kamaz.
The comment of Ales about the first stage: "Very interesting sand beginning, the temperature was over 32 degrees. Everyone started as good as possible, no-one wanted to lose, especially in the first stage. Which means we may know about our first rivals. These are Russians in Kamaz and team De Rooy in Iveco."
"I personally did a small schoolboy error on one dune. I was not able to shift. Just before the embarkation we edited the ranking system to me it did not hurt the hand just like it did in the past. This is a delicate thing, I change gears during the stage a thousand times. However, I forgot and the new system confused me. I estimate that we lost about 15 seconds but then we went on the limit of the car and we caught a big part of the loss."
"I could also test my backs during the stage. Tatra flew to a height of over two meters at the most interesting place of the stage, the 15-meter jump. The spine made a sound but everything holds and works as it is supposed to. It was a great review to the introduction. However, we are at the very beginning of the competition."
That the Number 503 must be count and that Loprais is a fighter, was confirmed in the very first stage. From the start they were on a beautiful third spot with a loss of 25 seconds at the finish. The loss may be due to introduction of regulatory factors three times increased. Ales was really fast. His time 9 minutes 11 seconds could meant the 36th place in the car category.
It confirms that even with an older car, great experience and a big heart it’s possible to achieve the best results. But it is clear that it won’t be easy. Eight crews have a loss of less than a minute. As Karel Loprais emphasizes, they will need to be very lucky, race concentrated and a lot of effort from all.
2013/01/06 | 16:17 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/HOUTHOOFDTOVA