DAKAR ’20; Loprais’ favourite dunes brought worries, but also another position
One position per day. That could easily sum up the last four days for Instaforex Loprais Team at Dakar Rally 2020. But the reality is not so simple as Aleš Loprais, Khalid Alkendi, Petr Pokora and the whole team must pay with sweat and cumulating fatigue for every small success. But they are all still driven by the Dakar Rally and determined to succeed. The latest reward is another improvement in the standings, as the team now sits fourth in the Truck category.
Aleš Loprais awaited the fifth stage from Al-Ula to Ha’il (563 kilometres) since the beginning of the competition as it finally brought a longer stint in dunes, his favourite part of the competition. However, Thursday’s special stage (353 kilometres) began on rocks once again.
“There were some tricky parts right at the start. We saw lots of vehicles with punctures. That’s where Aleš’ experience and cautiousness came in handy,” appreciated onboard mechanic Petr Pokora.
Afterwards, it was finally time for the sand that the crew was waiting for such a long time. However, this time, it caused some issues for Loprais and his crew.
“We basically drove on full-throttle for the whole part on the soft sand. But it has an enormous resistance, which showed on the vehicle. Due to the heat, our turbocharger‘s flange bent and the sealing between the head and the manifold of our exhaust burnt out. It worked some way in the higher revs, but when we stopped in the soft sand, the car almost didn’t want to move,” described Pokora.
“It was a nice but difficult stage again. We’re glad to be in the finish. We had to survive it and pull through to the end. We got stuck in one of those funnels in the sand, because we couldn’t drive off. We couldn’t force the air into the turbocharger and to get away from there. It was quite a heroic performance with an automatic gearbox and melted exhaust pipes,” continued Aleš Loprais.
The whole organising team around David Castera has prepared a really challenging edition of Dakar in Saudi Arabia. All the difficulties are giving a hard time to the whole starting grid, including the best truck drivers. This race is not just about the speed, but also about the endurance and stamina. And that is why the Praga V4S DKR in red, white and black colours, despite everything, has already moved to the fourth place overall, just an hour away from the podium positions.
“The performance gap between us and Kamaz with MAZ is huge. On the other hand, today I saw on my own eyes how Nikolaev’s turbo fell apart. It’s clear, they’re pushing to the limits and the question is, how long is that going to work if they continue like that? Or are they going to go down with the power,” said Aleš Loprais, who knows that his truck is lacking so he limited his engine power a bit more to go easier on the truck.
The Instaforex Loprais Team mechanics have a lot to do in the bivouac in Ha‘il on Thursday evening. Apart from changing the turbocharger and exhaust pipes, they also have some pre-planned tasks to do.
“We’re closing on the wear limit with our shock absorbers, so we will change them too. Just the perfect day, followed by the perfect night,” smiled Petr Pokora.
“But we keep going!” added Aleš Loprais.
On Friday, January 10, the Dakar Rally 2020 continues with a route to Riyadh. In the sixth stage, drivers will have to drive 830 kilometres, out of which 477 kilometres will be timed. The last stage before a rest day on Saturday will start with a relatively fast first section before it leads everybody to the dunes again.