Issue #15:January 15, 2023
The stage for January 14 was held between Shaybah and Al-Hofuf. The 153km SS (competition stage) took place close to the bivouac in Shaybah, where TLC’s Land Cruiser 300 cars arrived at the finish with the following results: Akira Miura and Laurent Lichtleuchter in car #246 came in 101st place overall in the car category and 1st place in the production car category. Meanwhile, Ronald Basso and Jean-Michel Polato in car #250 experienced trouble with their turbo soon after the start. Repairing the problem on site proved difficult, so the team had to leave the course and head for the bivouac in Al-Hofuf.
Today’s stage took participants to the Rub' al Khali desert in southeastern Saudi Arabia in a place known as the “Empty Quarter”. It was a short-distance SS, but the sand was softer than the previous day, making it difficult to cross over the dunes. It was a tough stage for production cars.
Car #246 ended up getting stuck twice, including one time when it was left with nowhere to go when the car ahead got stuck. Fortunately, they made a smooth finish in the SS without any tire de-beads (when a tire comes off its rim) due to low tire pressure, or any punctures. After a 511km liaison they made it to Al-Hofuf just after 7 p.m. Meanwhile, car #250 was towed by the assistance truck and arrived at the bivouac just after 8 p.m. The mechanics quickly started work on finding the cause and made repairs.
Under the current Dakar Rally “Day Retire” regulations, participants can continue to race from the following day with an added penalty time if they need to leave in the middle of a competition stage. A penalty time of 15h 20' was added to car #250, resulting in 119th place overall and 2nd place in the production car category for the SS. With these results, the cumulative ranking for car #250 is 109th place overall and 1st place in the production car category, and with a difference of 7h 8' 48'', car #246 is in 110th place overall and 2nd in their category.
Tomorrow, January 15, will be the final stage. A 136km competition stage will be held between Al-Hofuf and Dammam, and the 2023 Dakar Rally will eventually reach its ultimate goal at a special venue in the city of Dammam.
Miura (Driver): The dunes were tough on production vehicles, but with this Land Cruiser 300, it’s easier to drive on sandy stages than on rocky ones, so I could focus and take on the challenge. We'll keep driving hard and stay focused for tomorrow’s final SS.
Basso (Driver): 19km into the stage, the engine suddenly lost power and stopped. Polato and I did everything we could, but we were unable to bring it back.