A few more days of quarantine and then it's time! On 3 January, the 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally will begin in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Of course, twin brothers Tim and Tom Coronel will be at the start again this year with their buggy #Beast347. Although this Dakar edition will be slightly different from previous years, the team is ready to go! This year, the goal is finishing in the top 20. Mark spoke to Tom Coronel in Huizen, where they are still working on 'The Beast'.



The Coronel Dakar team naturally consists first and foremost of brothers Tim and Tom. Both will participate as drivers and they therefore want to drive and navigate 50/50. When asked if solo would not be an option, Tom replies that they no longer do. In his own words, ""Riding solo is for idiots. Tim and I finished solo and afterwards also said to each other ""we're done with this"". Believe me, I'm pretty extreme, but I don't even wish a solo trip to my biggest competitor. It's really not fun and it completely destroys you. As an example, he showed this clip that went viral in 2016 as one of the most unfortunate Dakar moments. 

But, according to Tom, it's also the fun. ""When Tim and I get off, we are really jumping all over the place"". A great example is this video from the finish of stage 3 in 2019, where they slid into the Rio. ""There, we really went full throttle through the riverbed. We had no choice, just full throttle, we couldn't get out either. Everything was squeaking and cracking, but we had to keep accelerating or we would get stuck. And when we finally got out, we were on the wrong side, too". 

Once we got to the finish line, we were really ecstatic. ""that's just a combination of the excitement, focus, and unloading"", Tom said. ""After stages like that, it's good to have a strong team behind the drivers, configuring with the car late into the night, so we can start fresh the next day"".

The Rally

The 2021 Dakar Rally Route: An entirely new route through Arabian desert terrain for all participants.

Like last year, the desert rally will be run from 3 to 15 January in Saudi Arabia. It all starts with the prologue, after which there will be 12 stages. During these stages, the participants must drive from checkpoint to checkpoint, with some 40 to 50 additional waypoints per day in between as well. Missing these points means penalty time! ""The waypoints are not always easy to find"", says Tom. ""Then you're standing there in front of a huge mountain and you look in the roadbook. Yes, we really have to go straight here. Then you go in that direction thinking ""this is not possible at all"" - but it's really there! At a time like that, it's just a matter of doing it. We also had one time when everyone was searching for the waypoint, and it turned out to be in an impossible place somewhere on top of a mountain. There were huge rocks that we crawled over like a spider. I yelled to Tim: ""The waypoint is up here - 1000% sure! I'm not crazy AND it's right here."" Tim yelled back, ""We're all wrong, there's no way."" So we crawled over some rocks, and suddenly we heard the familiar pieeeeep. So we hit that waypoint after all! We saw everyone around us still searching, so we thought, ""Come on we'll drive a few more laps as if we're searching and then make a quick run for it."" And so that's how you win around 10 spots. That was so cool!""

On the adventure

In the end, the Dakar is mostly one big adventure where you sit focused behind the wheel for long periods of time, eating and drinking along the way. You generally don't sleep much in the small tents, and after the stage, upon arrival at the bivouac, the car still needs to be configured in order to be able to ride again the next day.

"FIRST is useful for us to stay sharp during the tough stages."

The team also uses it to stay focused when working on the car late into the night!
If you want to stay up to date with the team, follow @tomcoronel and @timcoronel on Instagram.

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