It was already predicted that the eleventh and twelfth stages of the 2023 Dakar Rally would be tough. Together they form the marathon stage in the inhospitable Empty Quarter. In the bivouac at the finish, where they recorded the 25th fastest time, Tim and Tom Coronel had to catch their breath. “What a dunes. Holy moly.”
Tom Coronel was very impressed by the terrain in the 275 long stage. “There were such big dunes that we couldn’t get them in one go. When we were almost at the top, the engine started to stutter a bit. Once we even had to turn around. It really didn’t go smoothly today. We had to work hard for it.”
They weren’t just big dunes, but nasty ones as well, Tom thought. “Once you come over the comb, you looked into a deep hole, like a funnel. One shouldn’t end up in that, because then you’d have a problem.” “If you fall into that, you’re done,” adds Tim. “It’s not easy to get out of there. We saw Janus van Kasteren’s truck in it, with its nose in a dune. Mitchel van den Brink was there with a tow rope, but they must have been busy for a while.”
Even in the last part of the stage, Tim and Tom saw many cars stuck. “It was a tough day today”, says Tim. “A real Dakar day, and really cool stage as well, but I do hope tomorrow is a little less intense.”
The hitch in the engine did worry Tim a bit. “We have to see if we can solve that, because then it is perfect.” Only: there are no mechanics in the marathon bivouac and Tim and Tom have to solve it themselves, eventually with the help of other participants.