JEDDAH – After months of preparation, it is just around the corner: the 2020 Dakar Rally is about to get underway. Tim and Tom Coronel have made it through the shakedown and scrutineering and are ready to take on a new adventure in Saudi Arabia.
For the 2020 running of the event, the Dakar community has made its way to the Middle East for the first tine. That had quite some consequences: new and uncharted territory, lower temperatures, less daylight time and less road sections. One thing, however, remains unchanged: the organisers have done everything to make life really difficult for the competitors. It is still the toughest test for man and machine, also in another part of the world.
Over the past years, Tim and Tom have acquired plenty of Dakar experience and therefore aren’t worried too much. Preparations went better than ever before, ‘The Beast’ has again been considerably improved and their spirits are invariably upbeat. Still, there was a bit of a reality check during shakedown on Thursday: “The first run was great fun, especially when we hit the first dunes,” Tom says, laughing. “Tim went into some kind of shock mode when he saw the first dune. We were going too slowly and he got stuck right away. Well, let’s call it a good way to get acquainted with the Arab sand…” Tim admits: “That shakedown was useful indeed: we actually did get stuck up to the axles in the sand on the first dune. I was slightly too cautious. But rather now than during a stage.”
Rest and calm
The remainder of the day went trouble-free and better than expected, as Tom points out: “We were able to solve some minor issues, but that is what a day like that is for. The car was on the boat for three days, so we had to get everything up and running again. It went well, actually way better than expected. Preparations went really well, everything is quiet within the team. And the car went seriously well in the loose sand. Tim’s confidence got bigger and bigger as well, he was quite nicely up to speed. That was nice to watch. We are ready for it!”
Tim is also very happy about the way things were going: “I can only say that the past few days went really well. The shakedown was very good. We found some minor things that we have sorted out in the meantime. I was quite happy with that, because you can easily lose time when such things happen during a stage. All in all, therefore, I am super happy, a big hand to everyone in the team.”
The Beast 3.0 has successfully passed scrutineering and is now ready in parc fermé, waiting for the Dakar Rally to get underway on Sunday.
Stage 1: Jeddah – Al Wajh
319 special stage kilometres
The opening stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally is anything but a nice Sunday ride. Competitors immediately get over 300 stage kilometres to deal with. The terrain has a lot of variety and is therefore tricky: fast and twisty, dunes and stones. By no means a stage to be underestimated.