There was some surprise in Tim Coronel’s voice after the fifth stage, when he told how well things are going. “It’s really starting to roll. We are well attuned to each other, the car feels better and better, we have a good rhythm. We really found our way this Dakar.”
This is also reflected in the results, which are consistently around twentieth place. The fifth stage, a loop near Ha’il, the twins finished with the 21st fastest time. In the standings that means a neat sixteenth place after one third of the rally, just ahead of compatriot Erik van Loon. They encountered him in the stage: upside down. “We stopped, but there was little we could do, so we continued.”
Tim and Tom had a great time in the fifth stage, a 374 kilometre route almost half of which consisted of dunes. “In the beginning there was a lot of dunes”, says Tom, “followed by very fast paths in the middle part and then again very high dunes. It went really great. It was a tough day, with a lot of pounding and bouncing, but also a beautiful day.”
In the middle section Tim and Tom hooked up with a Toyota from Estonia. “That increased our pace. If you see the butt diving down 200 meters in front of you, you know there’s a dismount coming. If it stays straight and just pounds left to right, you know it’s going to be okay.”
The brothers are very happy with their car, the Century CR6. “It is seriously strong and good,” says Tom. “Very okay.” Tim is also ‘super happy’ with it. “We are pushing the pedal to the metal and having a lot of fun.”
There was also fun on the connecting route from the finish of the special stage to the bivouac in Ha’il, 130 kilometres away. Tim and Tom took Guerlain Chicherit – winner of stage 3 – in tow, but ran out of fuel themselves 4 kilometres before the bivouac, which in turn forced them to hook up as well. Vaidotas Zala was kind enough to bring both cars home, with the Century sandwiched between two BRXs. “That too is the Dakar”, Tim laughed. “Help each other.”
The sixth stage again departs from Ha’il and heads southeast. Not to Al Duwadimi, but to Riyadh. Due to the rain of the past few days the site for the bivouac of Al Duwadimi is flooded. The special stage will be shortened to approx. 370 kilometers to give the competitors time to drive to Riyadh.