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2022-01-0517:09:22

Dakar 2022: Collision complicated the longest stage for Loprais

The fourth stage of this year's Dakar Rally turned out to be extremely dramatic for the InstaForex Loprais Team. After a collision with one of the buggies, in which the crew was innocent, the Praga V4S DKR #508 truck had to tackle most of the longest stage of the event without shock absorbers on the right rear wheel. Yet, Ales Loprais, Jaroslav Valtr jr. and Petr Pokora managed to defend their fifth place in the trucks overall standings.

3rd and 4th stage

On Wednesday, January 5, the 44th edition of the famous marathon rally continued from Al Qaisumah to Riyadh (708 km). And right at the beginning of the longest special stage (465 km) of the whole event, Ales Loprais and his crew got into trouble. And it was not even their fault.

“I’d put today’s stage amongst the five toughest stages, I’ve ever had done. When we were validating one of the waypoints between eighth and tenth kilometre, one of the buggies hit us on the right rear wheel,” describes Ales Loprais.

“We had stopped right away. The most important thing is that nobody got hurt, but those guys made a fatal mistake. They just went right into us, and their vehicle is probably finished. Their co-driver confirmed that they had made a stupid error, but they showed us that they’re OK, and we can continue.”

However, the red and white Praga had to stop after the next few kilometres again.

3rd and 4th stage

“After that hit, we were losing tyre pressure due to a slow puncture. And it kept going because after 50 kilometres we lost our first shock absorber, and after another 50 kilometres, we lost even our second one, so we had to do almost 400 kilometres without any shock absorbers on the right rear wheel. It was a completely different driving; the truck was jumping much higher and more to the side. In the end, I was glad when we reached dunes, where the vehicle got some rest,” continued the Czech driver.

3rd and 4th stage

“Today, it was all or nothing. I kept praying throughout the whole stage and I’m glad that we’ve made it to the end. We were lucky and had a guardian angel. I’m grateful for that and I thank the whole crew, because they were working great, and we supported each other.”

Despite all the troubles, Loprais, Valtr and Pokora managed to reach the finish line in sixth place, around sixteen and half minutes behind the fastest Eduard Nikolaev (Kamaz). In the overall standings, they dropped behind Janus van Kasteren (Iveco), who finished in fourth position today, but they are still in fifth place overall.

That is also because several of Loprais’ competitors also faced difficult moments today, including Nikolaev’s teammate Andrey Karginov. The 2020 Dakar winner got into trouble in the first half of the special already with gearbox issues, and then, just 40 kilometres before the end, he got stuck in the mud for more than an hour. He lost almost 90 minutes and he dropped from third to seventh in the overall classification.

After the first third of the competition, Loprais is in fifth place. He is 58 minutes behind the leading Dmitry Sotnikov (Kamaz) and over nine minutes behind van Kasteren in fourth position. Meanwhile, Martin van den Brink (Iveco) has moved up to sixth place, and he is 30 minutes behind Loprais.

On Thursday, January 6, the Dakar Rally continues with the fifth stage, which is going to be a loop around Riyadh. Once again, the competitors are going to have a pretty fast start to the 395-kilometre-long special, but then they will face a difficult soil terrain with stones. Also, the standings could change significantly after a long dune section at the very end.


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