On the first stage of the 2023 Dakar Rally, Tim and Tom Coronel were immediately thrown to the lions, as Tim described it. Heavy rainfall in recent days had made the sand in the 368-kilometer competition test thick and heavy. For both the Century and the brothers, it was hard work. Mr. Coronel recorded the 30th time at the finish line, 34 minutes behind stage winner Carlos Sainz.
“We were thrown to the lions right away”
Tim Coronel – Dakar Driver
“It was quite a tough first stage,” Tom thought. “Because of the rain, the sand had become very compact. It was very noticeable that the car had trouble with that. Still, maybe we were a little too careful. Especially on the stones it could have been quite a bit harder.”
It was a very complete first stage, with start and finish at Sea Camp. In the first part the course consisted mainly of gravel paths, gradually more sand and even some dunes came in. “Everything was in it,” Tim observed, “We were thrown to the lions right away. But we were comfortable in it. In the beginning we were held up a bit by a series of SSVs that had started ahead of us. We are faster on the fast straights, but you have to be able to pass them. That’s where we lost a little time.”
With navigation, the brothers didn’t miss anything, Tom mused. “We saw some driving wrong, where we were right. The roadbook was perfectly correct, by the way. That should also be said. Right down to the kilometer. We had to search twice, but that wasn’t much of a problem.”
In the closing stages of the race, after the second neutralization (a stretch on an asphalt road where the clock is stopped for a moment), the Coronelles battled Carlos Checa and Juan Yacopini, where the Dutch came out on top.
At the finish, Tim and Tom learned that the car of their teammates Michel Kremer and Thomas de Bois had caught fire about 70 kilometers into the test and burned out completely. “That is incredibly scary and terrible for the whole team, but fortunately Michel and Thomas were able to get out in time.”
For Tim and Tom Coronel, the second stage is scheduled for tomorrow, from Sea Camp to Al Ula, with a competition test of 431 kilometers.