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Dakar 2021 – Drivers lose patience with the ‘gymkana’ that the Dakar has become

David castera He already warned before Dakar 2021 that he was going to focus on navigation. In the debut of the raid in Saudi Arabia in 2020, his intentions were cut a bit for two reasons: he was arriving in a country they did not know for the dispute of a test of these characteristics and he did not want to scare the hosts with complaints from the first moment .

Giniel de Villiers and Álex Haro score the fifth stage of the DakarGiniel de Villiers and Álex Haro score the fifth stage of the DakarRead news

In this edition it has only taken 5 days to unhinge the competitors. The statements of all point to the same side and you only have to see what happened with pilots of the stature of Sebastien loeb or the current champion, Carlos Sainz, to understand that it is no longer that they are disappointed, but that they are very frustrated.

One of the photos of this stage five is the one that opens this text. In it, you see the aforementioned Sainz and Loeb exchanging a few words, each in one direction, while coming up behind Al-Qassimi with a different trajectory. They have no reason to be surprised, since this year they have radically modified several premises of the ‘roadbook’, the focus of all anger.

From delivering it with just 10 minutes to spare (20 for motorcycles), to turning it into a tablet that prevents everyone from picking up their notes, or changing the number of intermediate ‘way points’ to cross, in addition to reducing their activation radius, co-pilots have become even more critical than ever. The problem is that for the pilots, in this case, it is a problem: many times they do not even know how to go fast for fear of skipping a checkpoint that will make them go crazy to find it.

Carlos Sainz has two consecutive days with serious problems. The following video is very eloquent: the ‘Matador’ turning around trying to find the control point that the GPS marks and does not activate.

The desperation of the three-time Dakar champion is remarkable. He is no longer short of saying that he is frustrated and angry.

“This is becoming more of a gymkhana than a rally raid. I have done fourteen Dakar and lor what I’m seeing so far is not a rally … I don’t like it. Never in my life had I lost half an hour twice in a row, “he criticized. The Madrilenian and Lucas Cruz, who will have had to endure his own and his partner’s frustration (and his character) in the car, is remarkable and understandable: he gives 48 minutes with a Stepháne Peterhansel that, for the moment, has not won any stage, but still does not make big mistakes.

Carlos Sainz: «This is becoming more of a gymkhana than a rally raid»

Sainz is not the only one, far from it, who has complained. Sebastien Loeb has already had several days of complaints, especially about a five-minute penalty imposed on him for going too fast in a neutralized zone. His excuse: he hadn’t missed the warning in the car.

«I need to share with you the incompetence of the commissars’ college of an event as legendary as the Dakar rally. They just gave us 5 minutes for speeding in a controlled area. During all my participations, during all stages and during all speed control zones, I have always done everything possible to respect this rule. With the only condition that the GPS system, through an alarm, warns us when we enter these invisible areas. Today, in this area where we are penalized, the alarm did not sound when entering it, and therefore, could not decelerate in time, “was justified with a hard letter.

In addition, this same Thursday he stated that he had stayed “caught” by navigation, in addition to three punctures that have weighed down. That has made the Frenchman occupy the 20th position more than 50 minutes behind the leader.

Complaints from everyone … except Peterhansel

Stepháne Peterhansel knows very well how to move in Dakar political dunes. The man who has won the toughest raid in the world the most times is aware that criticizing the organization in public (not in private) is not going to bring him benefits, and is often silent about it.

Even, if necessary, break a spear in his favor. He is one of the few who has not exploded this Thursday against the organization or has complained of navigation problems. “It was a real Dakar stage, with complicated navigation, dunes, tracks with big rocks and it was very nice to drive on it. In the end, it was very nice to drive through this landscape. It has been a very selective stage, “he even praised. It was the only one. Many other pilots pointed to navigation problems without cutting themselves off.

These are some of the complaints from the pilots:

Joan Barreda: «It has been one of the hardest stages I can remember»

Laia Sanz: «At first I got lost and it took me about 15 minutes to find the right path»

Kevin Benavides (winner of the day): «It has been a hard day for me. At first I got lost, like most pilots »

Ricky Brabec: «I lost my way and also my confidence in myself (…) I arrived at a place and there were six lost pilots, making circles»

José Ignacio Cornejo: «It has been a difficult stage, I haven’t seen something like this for a long time»

Nasser Al-Attiyah: «It was not easy at all to open the track today as many motorcycles were coming in the opposite direction, which confused us. We will have lost about 8 or 9 minutes at the beginning of the stage »

And it could continue like this in a long etcetera. The day this Friday will be another similar hell, very long, on dunes and with the accumulated fatigue that they will be able to recover when the rest day arrives. But for this you have to arrive … even if it is too late.