The damage was significant after the four-way rollover that Tim and Tom Coronel’s car made in the seventh stage of the 2023 Dakar Rally. Much could be repaired in the limited time available, but by the eighth stage it was apparent that the car had yet to recover from the crash. “Everything falls off or breaks,” Tom Coronel sighed after the finish, with tears in his eyes.
“It was a battlefield along the way”
Tim Coronel – Dakar Driver
The Coronel brothers got off to a good start – at the very back, happy to be allowed and able to start at all. But after only 100 kilometers into the 346-kilometer race test, the engine began to run badly and the car lost power. “Somewhere along the way the exhaust fell off,” Tom explains. “We only had half the power left.”
That turned out to be just the beginning of a day of misery. “The front right shock absorber broke off. It shot right through the hood and through the water line of the engine cooling system. I provisionally repaired that line and Tim transferred the shock from right rear to right front. With that we were able to continue, but we had to keep asking for water and coolant from other competitors along the way.”
And still it wasn’t done, because after 20 kilometers the right front wheel flew off. “Presumably in the rush we forgot to properly tighten the nuts back on,” thought Tom. “Because of the friction and the force, the wheel bolts were rotten, so we got the bolts from the spare wheels to put on.”
Tim and Tom didn’t have the necessary tools with them, but Ad Hofmans, from Team De Groot, did. “They helped us and stayed behind us with the truck for 95 kilometers, until the finish, to help. Without those guys, we wouldn’t have made it.” In the pitch dark it was still quite exciting in the dunes, with only a compass course. “It reminded me of the 2017 Dakar,” says Tom, with a lump in his throat. “Then we had so much shit and still made it to the finish line every time. That’s such a fat feeling.”
Successive events left little in the way of rhythm. “It was a battlefield along the way,” Tim observed, “with again very beautiful scenery, but we didn’t really get to enjoy it. I’m just glad we made it back to the finish and that there’s now a rest day.” The Century in particular is really in need of one, Tim and Tom know. “After that rollover, everything just flickers off. Surely that’s consequential damage that we weren’t able to prevent due to lack of time. So the rest day is very welcome.”