Dakar 2022: Aleš Loprais strengthens his position
After the eighth and ninth stage of the 2022 Dakar Rally, Aleš Loprais in his Praga V4S DKR has managed to increase the gap to Andrey Karginov in Kamaz. He will go into the tenth stage in fourth place in the trucks overall standings.
Monday’s stage (395 km) led from Al Dawadimi to Wadi Ad Dawasir through the western part of Rub’ al Khali. The competitors faced dunes of second and third level of difficulty, but that is the perfect terrain for Aleš Loprais. He managed to keep up with factory Kamaz trucks, holding fifth place throughout all the waypoints. However, at the end of the special stage, the Praga #508 had lost its luck for a moment, as the crew had to deal with a right-rear puncture, with less than 70 kilometres to go.
“It was not a typical puncture, but more of a separation of a tread followed by a tyre explosion,” described the mechanic Petr Pokora.
“The punctured tyre did some damage to a splash guard, and one side of the vehicle, but that’s not a problem at all. Other than that, the truck worked perfectly throughout the day.”
After the tyre change, Loprais finished in sixth place, around 20 minutes behind Dmitry Sotnikov in Kamaz, who won the stage and is also the overall leader.
On Tuesday, January 11, the 2022 Dakar Rally continued with a loop stage around Wadi Ad Dawasir. It was 491 kilometres long, out of which 287 kilometres were timed. Unlike in the previous days, it had fewer dunes, but there was a much greater emphasis on dusty gravel routes and rocky sections. In the end, the best eight trucks finished only within 10 minutes of each other.
“We had lost something at the first waypoint, and Martin Macík got ahead of us. Then we spent some time behind him in the dust, and when the rocky section began, we also dropped behind Janus van Kasteren. But there was no point in risking our position, that we had been building until that point. And that proved to be the right decision, as we got him back in the dunes. He had an issue with his front axle after one hard landing. And in the sand, we also caught up with a Kamaz. However, we couldn’t get past them, so we finished the special in the dust behind them,” summarizes Aleš Loprais today’s stage in which he finished in sixth place, six minutes behind the winner Eduard Nikolaev with a Kamaz.
“There wasn’t much to gain in today’s stage, but it was too easy to lose. We’ve managed to build a bit of a gap over Karginov. It’s not anything great, but also not so bad,” says the Instaforex Loprais Praga Team driver, who is currently fourth in the overall standings. He is 15 and a half minutes ahead of Karginov in fifth position.
“The truck was working flawlessly today. There were some nice dunes, even though not so many of them as before. It was much more about rocky sections and trial passages, in which we drove slower. There is a huge risk of getting a puncture, and it’s always better to lose slightly on the stage, rather than in the overall standings,” adds mechanic Petr Pokora.
In the overall standings, the Praga #508 is still behind the top three Kamaz trucks. While Aleš Loprais, Jaroslav Valtr jr. and Petr Pokora are losing around an hour and a half to the current leader Dmitry Sotnikov, the gap to Anton Shibalov in third position is now around 51 minutes.
On Wednesday, January 12, the 2022 Dakar Rally heads to Bisha. The competitors will remember this stage from the previous year, even though it was in a reverse direction. It was here, where the bikers had complained about its dangerously fast profile. While the organisers have done some changes to the timed section (375 km), it still should be one of the fastest stages of the whole event.
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