Dakar 2022: Loprais held by puncture, but remains fifth overall

04.01.2022

After the first quarter of the 2022 Dakar Rally, Ales Loprais and his crew sit in fifth place in the truck overall standings. The Praga #508 crew managed to hold its position, right behind four factory Kamaz trucks, despite a puncture, that cost the team some valuable minutes at the end of Tuesday’s special.

3rd and 4th stage

The third stage of the event (636 km) presented a loop around Al Qaisumah. Its shortened special stage had 255 kilometres and took place mostly in sand and dunes. With the recent heavy rain affecting the terrain, sand was very dense, making it a bit easier to tackle the dunes. However, in other places, the rain actually complicated it for the crews, as some roads and tracks, that had been visible when the organisers had been preparing the stage, disappeared.

Ales Loprais, Jaroslav Valtr jr. and Petr Pokora started in a similar fashion as in previous days, and they were fighting for positions in the top 5 through the waypoints. However, around 60 kilometres before the end of the special, the InstaForex Loprais Team truck had to stop.

“We tried to do our best today, and it couldn’t have been any faster. The pace is incredible and every minute counts. Today, we lost about seven minutes due to a puncture. But we’re glad to keep the fifth place and we continue,” summarises Ales Loprais.

“We had a puncture in a bad spot in a difficult part of dunes. We fell into a hole that was barely visible,” adds mechanic Petr Pokora, who also shared lots of praise for the navigator Jaroslav Valtr jr., for whom it was the first tyre change with this crew.

3rd and 4th stage

“With Jaroslav, we had practiced the tyre change many times during testing, and the whole process now runs so smoothly. Jaroslav didn’t do bad he’s quite handy actually, and even if he had struggled with something at first, he always practiced it to perfection later. I can say that even despite this was our first change during this rally, we’re working as a team now. Jaroslav knows what he’s doing and what he’s supposed to do. Thanks to that, everything goes very smoothly.”

3rd and 4th stage

Following the tyre change, the red and white Praga V4S DKR finished the stage in eleventh place, around 16 minutes behind the winner Dmitry Sotnikov with a Kamaz. In the trucks overall classification, Loprais has managed to stay in fifth position, even though his gap to leading Sotnikov is now around 47 minutes. The Czech driver now also has to look into the mirrors, as Janus van Kasteren (Iveco) is right behind him. The Dutch driver finished in third place today, being around 13 minutes faster than Loprais, and in the overall standings he is currently in sixth position, just 37 seconds behind.

On Wednesday, January 5, the 2022 Dakar Rally continues with the fourth leg which leads from Al Qaisumah to Riyadh (707 km). The longest stage of the event (465 km) is also going to be one of the toughest ones. While it begins with a 200-kilometre-long fast section, the crews will then face dunes of varying sizes and a rough finish with rocks and riverbeds.

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