The fact that the sixth stage of the Dakar 2021 was shortened by 100 kilometres, to 348 kilometres, was a good idea for Tim and Tom Coronel. Ten minutes before it was completely dark, they were at the finish of the special stage. There it turned out that they had set the 37th fastest time, at 1.21.02 behind stage winner Carlos Sainz. “But we have stopped quite often,” said Tom. “There were many details that could have been better.”
The stage before the rest day is traditionally one of the more difficult days in the Dakar. Because the fifth stage was already long and hard, the organization decided to remove 100 kilometres. “Maybe it was because of that, but I think day 5 was tougher than this one,” said Tom after arriving at the bivouac in Ha’il, where the rest day is. “I think this stage was 80 percent of the previous one, even though it now included dunes of the toughest category for the first time. It was actually quite doable.”
Just on one of those big dunes Tim and Tom got stuck with The Beast, after the engine stalled. Digging out the car took a few minutes. “But there were more of those troubles that always take a few minutes,” said Tom. “The left rear tire deflated again, just like yesterday. Tim first wanted to check everything but in the end we just changed the wheel. Took a good 10 minutes.”
The faltering tire pressure system also meant that Tim and Tom had to stop before entering the dunes to manually adjust the tire pressure. Deflating the tires took another few minutes. The brothers also stopped at Cristina Gutierrez, who needed a jack and other tools to get her SSV going again.
“There were a lot of small things that took time and that’s a shame,” said Tom. “We were able to make up for some time in the last part. Tim seriously had the pace there. We even caught up with Romain Dumas, who drives an ex-Peugeot. That was nice.”
After a week of Dakar, the brothers feel that they have found the right swing. “The first days it was just testing for us,” said Tom. “We have to have a quiet start and build up the pace. I had hoped that we would have had a little more speed, but the rules of the organization have given us less power. That takes time on the straights. Things are going fine in the dunes. Today as well. The first week actually went very well. We had no major problems and arrived every day before dark. Of course there is room for improvement, but we absolutely cannot complain. We must be able to improve the result of last year, 27th place. I am going into the second week with great confidence.”