Jan 11, 2020
The sixth stage marked the end of the first half of Dakar Rally 2020. And Praga V4S DKR handled the longest stage yet beautifully. Aleš Loprais, Khalid Alkendi and Petr Pokora finished in the sixth place and now they can enjoy a free day in Riyadh as the fourth best crew in the Truck category.
On Friday, the Dakar Rally 2020 offered an 830-kilometre long route between Ha’il and Riyadh, including 477km long special stage. It was a really long day, but the Instaforex Loprais Team had also a very long night before. Following technical issues in the previous stage, the team had to change exhaust pipes. And then there was also a scheduled service for the Praga V4S DKR.
“When I went to test the truck after the night service, it still wasn’t perfect. It still lacked power in low revs, which would be a big problem in the dunes. So, we kept working hard until 4:30 in the morning,” explained the situation onboard mechanic, Petr Pokora.
“We didn’t rest until then. And we had to sleep quickly because we had our alarm set for 7 o’clock,” laughed the Czech mechanic from Plzeň.
Aleš Loprais celebrated his fortieth birthday today and the working vehicle was probably the best gift he could have got from his team.
“The rest day will be well-deserved because the whole first half was so hectic and today’s stage was no different,“ said Aleš Loprais, though he knows that the promised ‘rest day’ is never actually just a break.
“We’ve slightly lowered the power, to avoid issues we had in the fifth stage. And it worked out, we had no more fatal issues, but there were still some minor ones. Our vehicle died twice because of an automatic kill switch. It’s an uncomfortable and dangerous thing that we need to sort out,” continued the Czech driver.
Friday’s stage offered a combination of fast sectors and slower dunes. However, Loprais, Alkendi and Pokora did well and halfway through the event they sit in the fourth place overall, just under the podium positions. They have also increased their gap to Martin Macík in the fifth position by 50 seconds and both trucks are now separated by 10 minutes and 2 seconds.
“It’s amazing to have two Czech crews in TOP 5 and three in TOP 10. But the fact is, that the speed of Kamaz, MAZ and Janus van Kasteren with IVECO is literally fascinating. It wouldn’t be possible without taking big risks,” commented Petr Pokora.
“But we’re also happy about other Czech riders and drivers. Martin Michek is doing well in the Bike category, while Martin Prokop is fighting hard in the Car category,” praised Aleš Loprais his colleagues who are also the official ambassadors of the Czech automobile association (AČR).
The second half of Dakar Rally 2020 starts on Sunday, January 12, with the seventh stage leading to Wadi Al Dawasir. And it won’t be any easier as the teams will face the longest timed stage of the competition with 546 kilometres.
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