Longest day for Opel Dakar Team

January 07, 2014

466Km of desert await Szaly Balázs and László Bunkoczi as they attempt to claw their way up the leaderboard today. With the Toyota H3 of Kanat Shagirov firmly in their sights at P5 in the overall standings, today is a must win day. The gap to Shagirov is 33 minutes and 46 seconds. If the team are to have any hope of overhauling him and moving on Turon Barrere in P4, they must claw back a big chunk of time on todays long stage.

The stage starts with dunes before the cars hit rolling plateaus and then camel grass. Innocuous sounding, camel grass can be a car killer as hitting a clump at speed is like hitting a brick wall. Team Toyo Tires racer Robby Gordon, currently contesting the ‘other’ Dakar in Argentina, found this out to his cost in 2006 after hitting a patch of camel grass tore off his radiator forcing him out of his first Dakar running his own team.

Hit a piece of camel grass hard and this is what happens!

Snaking turns, more dunes and more camel grass follow until the final section of the stage, a power shootout, where racers keep the pedal hard down as they try to take every km/h of speed across the sand to the finish. Szalay is a brave man with a powerful car so today should be his day. Scheduled to set off at 8:53, he will be on a mission to overhaul the 6 crews ahead of him in the general standings on todays stage.

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