The damage was considerable after the four-way rollover of Tim and Tom Coronel’s car on the seventh stage of the 2023 Dakar Rally. Much could be repaired in the limited time available, but on stage 8 it turned out that the car was not fully recovered from the crash. “Everything falls off or breaks down”, Tom Coronel sighed after the finish, with tears in his eyes.
The Coronel brothers got off to a good start – from the back of the field, but glad they were still allowed to start at all. But already after 100 kilometres in the 346-kilometer special stage, the engine started to stammer and the car lost power. “Somewhere along the way the exhaust fell off,” says Tom. “We only had half the power.”
That turned out to be just the beginning of a day full of misery. “The front right shock broke off. It was launched straight through the hood and through the water pipe of the engine cooling. I provisionally repaired that line and Tim moved the shock from the rear right to the front right. We were able to continue with that, but we had to ask for water and coolant from other participants along the way.”
And it was not over yet, because after 20 kilometres the right front wheel flew off. “We probably forgot to tighten the nuts in our haste”, thought Tom. “From the friction and force, the wheel bolts had rotted, so we took the bolts off the spare wheels to put them on.”
Tim and Tom didn’t have the necessary tools with them, but Ad Hofmans, from Team De Groot, did. “They helped us and stayed behind us with their truck for 95 kilometres to the finish to help. We wouldn’t have made it without those guys.” In the pitch dark it was quite frightening in the dunes, with only a compass heading. “It reminded me of the 2017 Dakar,” says Tom, a bit emotional. “We had so much shit and we still made it to the finish line every time. That’s such a cool feeling.”
Due to the succession of events, there was little rhythm. “It was a junkyard along the way, with damaged cars everywhere,” Tim saw. “With very beautiful landscapes again, but we were not able to really enjoy it. I am just happy that we made it to the finish again and that there is now a rest day.” Especially the Century is really ready for that, Tim and Tom know. “After that somersault, everything just falls off. That is consequential damage that we were unable to prevent due to a lack of time. So the rest day is more than welcome.”