Dakar 2024: After Chrono 48 Stage, Loprais and his crew improved to second place overall
Aleš Loprais, Jaroslav Valtr Jr., Jiří Stross and their Praga V4S DKR truck have survived the two-day stage in the dunes of Rub’ al Khali. They have also improved by one position in the overall standings, as they are now preparing for the only Rest Day at the Dakar Rally 2024.
On January 11 and 12, the forty-sixth edition of the famous rally raid continued with a two-day loop around Shubaytah. The sixth stage was 765 kilometres long and featured the longest special stage of the event with 547 kilometres. The crews had to pass through seemingly infinite dune fields of the Empty Quarter and its various challenges, including difficult climbs, steep descents, tricky funnels, and challenging navigation.
The Instaforex Loprais Praga Team spent the night break from Thursday to Friday in an improvised bivouac at the KM 294 of the selective section before having to tackle the remaining 253 kilometres in the morning. The team finished third fastest in the truck category, and Loprais and his crew have moved up to second place in the overall standings. They are now 1 hour and 16 minutes behind the leader Martin Macík Jr., and 33 minutes ahead of Mitchel van den Brink in third position.
“The best stage I’ve ever done. But once is enough!” smiles the navigator Jaroslav Valtr Jr. after his return to Shubaytah’s bivouac.
“Aleš did a fantastic job. We had to reverse a couple of times and leave the cabin once, but nothing serious,” he adds.
“Right at the very beginning of the special stage it was something. Shortly after the start, we had been passing a scrapyard for several trucks, and we had to divert from the route a bit to make it through. And later, it was just as difficult as we had to make our way around several vehicles in carved dunes. At the end of Thursday’s running, we drove down from almost a one-kilometre dune a bit earlier and missed a waypoint, for which we got a 15-minute penalty. But it was getting dark and almost impossible to reach the top of the dune in these conditions again,” adds Aleš Loprais.
“But the next day, we were flying and passed two trucks. It couldn’t have gone any better. I’m glad we’ve made it,” says the Czech driver with a sign of relief. He and the Lady, as he calls his Praga V4S DKR truck, have done around 4,200 kilometres during the first week of Dakar Rally 2024, out of which 2,200 kilometres count towards the standings.
However, there is still much more to go. Even though it seems unbelievable, especially considering the crews have just finished the two-day stage at Rub’ al Khali, the truck category is not even halfway through the competition. The organisers have prepared another 2,379 kilometres of selective sections for the following week and there is almost 3,800 kilometres to go before the competitors reach the finish line at Yanbu.
Thus, it is no surprise that everyone looks forward to a Rest Day on Saturday, January 13. However, the only free day of the Dakar Rally 2024 takes place in Riyadh, so the Instaforex Loprais Praga Team’s crew must do another 900 kilometres to reach the Saudian capital city.
The Dakar Rally 2024 continues with Stage Seven on Sunday, January 14. The route from Riyadh to Al Duwadimi will be another long one, with 483-kilometre-long selective section and 873 kilometres in total.