The Coronel brothers have had their toughest but most successful year to date, finishing Dakar 2020 in 27th position.
The Dakar Rally 2020 began on the 5th of January and the Coronel brothers of the Maxxis Dakar Team were off to a great start. Having been faced with a new terrain in Saudi Arabia, with the beast was feeling right at home on the Trepadors:
"The head is off!" Tim said after the finish with a big smile on his face. “Such a first test is always exciting. All preparations went well and we were fully confident, but this is what it's all about. We started quietly to feel the car well. As the test progressed, we increased the pace a little further. You could also see that in the meantime, where we crawled further and further forward."
The second stage was completed without any significant issues. Several competitors had to change their tyres but the Beast 3.0 and the Trepadors performed well on such tough terrain. However, in the closing stages, the twins lost around ten minutes due to a wrong turn. Nevertheless, they finished in 27th, just 45 minutes behind the winner.
“I am happy, I can’t say anything else,” Tim admits at the finish. “Too bad that we still lost some time on the final part, but for the rest, everything went really nicely. I simply don’t know anything else to say. A few mistakes less and then we are really getting there. Things are going the way we want them to. The team has done a tremendous job.”
The Coronel brothers stayed out of trouble for the third stage but some initial visibility issues from sand hindered their ability to drive fast. They chose to drive in a clever way to avoid any issues and still managed to finish in the top 30, with the top 20 becoming ever closer:
“We started off fairly easily, initially, we were in the dust all the time, we couldn’t see a thing. You simply can’t drive fast like that, that would be too risky. Some trucks were overtaking us to the left and the right, but these guys are seated much higher, so they have a better view. We simply drove cleverly: no damage, no punctures, no mistakes. In the final ten minutes, Tim really went for it, he was having a blast. But we are constantly saying to each other: this is only the third day, there are still nine days to go.”
A tricky fourth stage resulted in slow speed for the brothers due to their sensible driving. The terrain was rough for most parts with large, sharp stones causing issues for various competitors. With their clever navigation and skilled driving, Tim and Tom made it through yet another stage without any major issues, eventually finishing in 31st place - provisionally moving them to an overall standing of 21st:
“Wow, wow, wow: what a stage this was! We have seen so many cars that were stuck. I think we really played it in a clever way. Sometimes, you just have to be patient and cruise to the finish in a relaxed way. We did that perfectly. Thankfully, we made it to the finish just before darkness fell. Ten minutes later and you couldn’t see a thing anymore. I am super happy that we just made it because of good luck if you still have to make it to the finish in the dark.”
For the 5th consecutive day, Tim and Tom Coronel managed to make it to the finish line before darkness fell. Although the day wasn't as smooth-sailing as they would have liked, having lost their wheel and noticing their deflation system had broken. In total, they only lost around 15 minutes and the car drove beautifully afterward:
“We were in a nice flow straight away. We were able to overtake many people and we were going pretty fast,” Tom looked back upon the opening kilometres of the stage. “Suddenly, we felt some strange vibrations and soon after that, we had lost our left rear wheel. We really thought: “What is going on here?” All the wheel nuts were gone and one of the screws was completely broken. Tim walked back a bit to collect the wheel from the dunes. Then, we took one nut from each of the wheels. Like that, we had four instead of five nuts on every wheel and we were able to continue like that.”
The first half of the Dakar Rally 2020 was completed successfully for the Maxxis Dakar Team, they slowly built their speed through the stages and concluded stage six within the top 30 and 23rd in the overall classification and ready for their rest day:
“It was quite a long drive, but we have made it to the finish nicely in time again,” Tim said. “We had some really high dunes to cross, making me think that we would never be able to make it to the top, but our baby mastered them just like that. It almost went automatically, so that was really enjoyable.”
The Beast 3.0 had dunes and fast tracks to contend with and during the first part in the dunes, their tyre pressure became too low and subsequently, the tyre came off the wheel. Other than this hiccup, the rest of the day went really well:
“For the rest, everything went very good, all pretty easily. The dunes were very cool again, some sneaky little things here and there, but we didn’t let them catch us out. To be honest, the stage actually was a bit boring, everything just went very smoothly and well. But that is where danger is just around the corner, so we remain focussed.”
The twins were really enjoying stage eight of the Dakar, the track offered dunes, stones, fast tracks and 40km of a long, straight stretch of sand - that was until they landed themselves in a fair bit of trouble caused by a large rock. Having to drive the remainder of the stage with a bent suspension, once again they managed to finish the line before it became dark:
“Now this was a real one, a really cool stage,” Tom laughed after having made it to the finish. “It wasn’t trouble-free: after 177 kilometres, we drove straight onto a big rock. The right rear suspension was bent and the wheel was shattered into 30 pieces. Quite some damage. It took us a while to get it all sorted. Eventually, we set off with a bent rear axle. All in all, I am happy that we have made it through. It is a pity about the time we have lost because other than that, it all looked really good.”
The terrain in stage nine comprised of mainly rocks and dust, and after the Maxxis Dakar Team's mechanics were up until the early hours of the morning repairing the damage from the previous stage, they wanted a trouble-free finish. The twins drove cautiously to avoid any issues on very rocky and uneven terrain, which again saw many tyre changes for other competitors. Finishing just outside the top 30, Tim commented:
“On the final part, we suddenly had the impression that the handling of the car had changed. Therefore, we backed off a bit on the final 150 kilometres to the finish, because we were worried that something could break off. We didn’t get out of the car to have a look, but once we had finished, it turned out that the rollbar was broken. It already felt really loose on the rear, so we were a bit lucky to have made it to the finish like this in the first place. But again a day in the books and again at the finish before dark. We are still on schedule!”
Stage ten was cut short due to a sand storm that called for the organisers to stop the rally and send competitors to use the public road. The second half of the rally had seen a lot more issues for the Beast 3.0 than in the first half, including a rolled car, Tim explains:
“We were going nicely in the dunes. In fact, things were going really well. At a certain point, I was going slightly too fast over a dune and we rolled down just like that. We were upside down before I knew it. Thankfully, The Beast was quickly back on its wheels. However, there was quite some damage: the side window was missing and the entire rear bodywork was damaged. We could collect the dock boards and the tow ropes quite a bit further away.”
With only one more stage to complete before the finish line, stage eleven was not without its share of problems. Tom explained:
“Twenty kilometres into the stage, there was a problem with the cooling. The fuses of the fans were blown out. We were briefly worried that we would have to wait for assistance but thankfully, we were able to solve it ourselves. It cost us one hour. Later, we got stuck in the deep sand for a while. There, De Groot pulled us our, they helped us a great deal. After that, they got stuck with their truck themselves, but we got help from everywhere, so that was great. Once we were back on track, we realised that we wouldn’t be able to make up for the time we had lost, so we headed for the finish at a nice pace.”
After a tough two weeks for the twins, they still managed to complete the Dakar Rally 2020 with their best result to date: 27th!
“We did it again, fantastic,” Tom said with a huge smile on his face. “Our goal was to finish somewhere around the top 20. That is certainly possible with this Beast, so that is giving us confidence. We have had a few issues, but this simply was our best Dakar ever. In terms of results, but also the one with the fewest problems. Too bad about the roll, because after that, all kinds of things around it started having issues. That is part of the job, the mistake hurt us a bit. But I massively enjoyed it again and the potential is huge. Now for an even better result!”
Tim adds: “We have thoroughly enjoyed it again. We are arriving here with fewer parts on the car, but The Beast is really powerful and strong. Really Coronel-proof, I would say. Again, it was a nice adventure, unbelievable. I am proud of the team, of what they have achieved again this year. Now on to 2021!”
From everyone at Maxxis UK, we would like to congratulate Tim and Tom on their best ever Dakar result! We already can't wait for 2021.