After the official rest day, the competitors faced a stage in unknown territory, leading from Riyadh to Al Dawadimi. The opening one hundred kilometres were all about dunes, and it proved to be a big challenge especially in terms of navigation.
Dust, holes, and stones
Just as the reigning champion Josef MachaÄek said in the finish, it was one of the toughest stages yet. “Even though we headed out after resting, it was very difficult. This stage offered a combination of dust, holes, stones and very challenging navigation. I’m glad to finish in time because to fight for 200 kilometres in the dunes and in the night, that’s not something you want to do,” said the Czech driver, who is currently sitting in 7th place in the overall standings. “And while we had to deal with two punctures, as always, we’ve managed to stay in the TOP 10. And to be 7th so far, that’s not bad. The Can-Am is great again, but it’s going to require a thorough check after a really rough day.”
Meanwhile, Ignacio Casale was one of the heroes of the seventh stage. Despite starting from the back, he was able to finish in 8th place. “Again, we’ve seen how professional he is. He went for it, knowing he owes it to the mechanics, who worked on his truck for two days and three nights. He finished completely drained,” confirmed the team principal Martin Koloc. “It’s clear that if the vehicle works, we can fly very high. And we’ve even used components originally planned for our preparations for the 2023 Dakar Rally. We’ll see more tomorrow when Ignacio has a much better starting position. Today, the guys started one hour and a half after the best guys, so the 8th position is an unbelievable result.”
The mechanic TomaÅ¡ Å ikola spoke once again about how fast everything was. “I know that I repeat myself, but we’ve been even faster today. After the start, Ignacio pushed to the limit. I don’t know, maybe we’ve set a new record in how many vehicles we overtook in one stage. Somebody told me we had 45 passes, with a sentinel and a horn in permanent usage. Also, if you consider, that we faced dust for the whole time… Our navigator Alvaro worked like a machine; he did great work.” The crew also witnessed several accidents “We passed by two Can-Am specials that were in each other, and there was a helicopter. It got very dangerous at the end, as we entered the dunes in the dark.”
“It was an extremely difficult stage, starting from 250th place. I don’t think I’ve ever done a Dakar stage before, where we would be passing competitors from every category. The final 40 kilometres were in the dark, which was difficult and dangerous. So, considering all that, 8th place is amazing. And when I saw our gap to Kamaz and Loprais, I couldn’t believe it at first. Tomorrow, we start from the 8th position and our strategy is clear – to attack, attack and attack. Nothing changes about our objective to win a stage,” shared Ignacio Casale, as the Stage 7 hero, his ambitions.
Results: Stage 7
T3 – Light prototypes: 1. Seth Quintero (USA/OT3) 3:45:20, 2. Cristina Gutierrez – Herrero (Spain/OT 3) +5:11, 3. Lopez Cantardo (Chile/Can-Am) + 12:47… 9. Josef MachaÄek (Czech Republic/Buggyra Can – Am) +30:34
T5 – Trucks: 1. Anton Shibalov (Russia/Kamaz) 3:37:17, 2. Eduard Nikolaev (Russia/Kamaz) + 1:37, Martin van den Brink + 4:25…. 8. Ignacio Casale (Chile/Tatra) + 8:19
Current standings after Stage 7
T3 – Light prototypes: 1. Lopez Contardo (Chile/Can-Am) 28:17:24, 2. Sebastien Eriksson (Sweden/Can – Am) 1:24: 05 3. Cristina Gutierrez – Herrero…(Spain/OT 3) +2:12:40 …7. Josef MachaÄek (Czech Republic/ Buggyra Can – Am) + 5:52:11
T5 – Trucks: 1. Dmitry Sotnikov (Russia/Kamaz) 26:5:54, 2. Eduard Nikolaev (Russia/Kamaz) +5:14, 3. Anton Shibalov (Russia/Kamaz) + 31:25… 34. Ignacio Casale (Chile/Tatra) + 73:41:27
Buggyra Racing Organisation
Buggyra Racing Organisation
Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road
P.O.Box 31303 Dubai
United Arab Emirates
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Weekly Optimist journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.