VIDEO: Macháček right behind TOP 10, Casale finished with only 5 cylinders and without turbocharger!
Despite technical issues and being only in 15th place after the third stage, the reigning champion from the Czech Republic has improved by 4 positions in the last two stages. Meanwhile, Ignacio Casale, whose Tatra was ready just in time for the start, confirmed that he is unstoppable.
The fifth stage of the event tested drivers and vehicles in a loop around Riyadh (563 km / 348 km). While the first part of the stage offered a typical dirt road with many rocks, the second part of the special featured 80 kilometres of challenging dunes.
Josef Macháček started the race with a goal to finish and improve his position. And thanks to his 10th place, in the end, it actually worked out pretty well for him. The Dakar veteran took his personal best result at this year’s event, and he has moved up to 11th place in the overall standings. “It was a beautiful stage, with fast segments and rocky sections. We had a puncture, so we eased off a bit when we went through rocky parts,” described Josef the stage, adding that the worst came at the very end. “The final 40 kilometres were a navigational massacre. Then, we started being passed by Kamaz trucks, and there was a lot of dust. But we made it to the end, and I feel really good about today.”
It drives! It drives!
On the other hand, Ignacio Casale, Alvaro Leon and Tomáš Šikola had an exceptional story, as they did not arrive at the bivouac until the night. Right after, the mechanics went into work, and they did not stop until just seconds before the start when they shout out: “It drives!” And Ignacio could return into the race, even though with a 30-hour penalty. “Today, the mechanics gave it everything, and I’m so proud of them all. I guess that nobody, who’s ever had to change burned-out cables, knows what we went through, but the guys did a great job in a very short time,” said the team principal Martin Koloc right after the start. “Of course, the strategy had to change. Now we have two goals only. The first is a stage victory, while the other is to stress test the components in a full swing.”
The Chilean driver started from rear positions, but with a very good pace. Just 100 kilometres before the end, he was even in the TOP 10. “With just 80 kilometres to go, we had to stop. Then, we were forced to finish with just five cylinders and without a turbocharger. But I believe that the mechanics will put the Tatra back together again, especially after all they did last night,” hoped Ignacio.
"First of all, big thanks to the guys for all the hard work on the vehicle. Also, big thanks to Martin Šoltys, who helped me at the start. I went to bed around 2.30am, and he woke me two hours later that we've got to go. I also struggled a bit with Riyadh residents, who were just heading to work on our way to start. I had to use the horn all the time, passing from the left, from the right," described mechanic Tomáš Šikola today's stage. "Until the 321st kilometre, it was all good. We were overtaking nicely. But Ignacio switched to a manual gearbox and slightly overcooked it probably. Also, we were losing the starter, and we got stuck. Then, we couldn't get back the automatic, so I looked into it and then managed to get the Tatra going again."
Results – Stage 5
T3 – Light prototypes: 1. Seth Quintero (USA/OT3) 4:21:10, 2. Sebastien Eriksson (Sweden/Can – Am) + 8:03, 3. Lopez Contardo (Chile) + 8:46…10. Josef Macháček (Czech Republic/Buggyra Can – Am) +29:42
T5 - Trucks: 1. Andrey Karginov (Russia/Kamaz) 4:01:02, 2. Dmitry Sotnikov (Russia/Kamaz) + 4:25, 3. Anton Shibalov (Russia/Kamaz) +6:47…23. Ignacio Casale (Chile/Tatra) + 1:19:31
Current standings after Stage 5
T3 – Light prototypes: 1. Lopez Contardo (Chile/ Can – Am) 20:38:29, 2. Sebastien Eriksson (Sweden/Can – Am) +20:16. 3. Philippe Pinchedez (France – Can/Am) + 2:03:38…11. Josef Macháček (Czech Republic/Buggyra Can – Am) +5:16:01
T5 - Trucks: 1. Dmitry Sotnikov (Russia/Kamaz) 19:09, 2. Eduard Nikolaev (Russia/Kamaz) + 9:53, 3. Anton Shibalov (Russia/Kamaz) + 26:27