He arrived in excellent spirits, something almost unexpected considering the reality that the Audi team is going through, with its three cars out of the fight for victory in this Dakar 2023. The rest day in the Riyadh field, in the capital Saudi Arabiait allowed for a relaxed chat with the Spaniards Charles Sainzwho is still in the race despite the inconveniences suffered, first with a broken kneecap, and the injury immediately afterwards.
He invited a handful of international press representatives to the impeccable trailer for the Audi team and there he indulged in a friendly dialogue with direct answers despite the unease of staying in a career that no longer has him as the main protagonist.
“We didn’t go into the rest day in the best way because we had exhausted the chances to fight for the win. You have to look for the optimistic part and push into the second week,” says the rider.
-What would be the positive part?
-The positive part would be… (laughs) It’s hard to find the positive part, the best thing is that no one was seriously injured by the accidents we had. Stephane’s navigator (Peterhansel) is fine (Edouard Boulanger) and that’s the important thing.
-What was the most difficult part of this Dakar in terms of vehicle?
-The hard part was a broken kneecap that shouldn’t have broken. Then I just had a puncture and was leading the race until the kneecap problem happened.
-Is the car more competitive than last year?
-Obviously. Not just by feel but also by telemetry. Already following the cars during the race, we have seen that the weight of our car is considerable and we lack power.
-What is the goal in this second part of the Dakar?
– Win stages and accumulate information for the Audi team.
-How did you experience the accident you suffered with Peterhansel?
-At that time we were 25 meters apart. I was lucky not to lose consciousness. He took a weird turn and when I saw him he was unconscious. It was a difficult situation, one that you never want to happen. It’s really difficult, and Edouard is in tremendous pain.
Will Audi be present at the World Rally Raid dates?
-I don’t know and it’s not me who has to answer.
-During the first few days your family was seen accompanying you to the Dakar. What did you feel that in so many years they were present?
-It was very special to me. We live together and experience what a Dakar is. When I got home I told about it, but if you don’t experience it you don’t know what it is. Now they will understand more what it means to be in a field and run this race. Now they will know what the husband or father went through during so many days in the desert.
-His son, Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari F.1 driver), was very present in each stage. Talking to him from rider to rider, do you think he will be able to race a Dakar one day?
-He was very aware of everything he saw in the Dakar. I asked for many things. Her mind is obviously focused on Formula 1. The Dakar can wait. But it’s true that if he liked this discipline, after what he’s been through and from what I see he’s commented and said, he’ll surely try it one day.
-How different was this Dakar compared to the previous ones?
-It was very different, much more difficult. There’s everything, with dunes, stones, sand… The roadbook didn’t cause problems in terms of navigation, as it should be. I give 10 to the Dakar and to the organization for the hard and extended stages.
-What is your comment on Nasser Al-Attiyah’s criticism of the regulatory change (the Audis had more power after the third day)?
-There is a physics that talks about weight power. And a telemetry, which the FIA has at its disposal, which says that the car accelerates less. And for something I have white hair, because I realize above the car. When you weigh 100 pounds heavier, it’s very noticeable. It’s measured. Does anyone know what it is. We will be serious and we all want to play with the same cards. There was a big campaign last year where Audi had an advantage. But you have to evaluate it with solid data. Last year Nasser didn’t have to race after the second day.
-What is being evaluated to measure what has been done with this new Audi?
-It would be very useful for the team to do more races than the Dakar. To evaluate behaviors, surfaces, temperatures, reactions, etc. This year we see how difficult it is to drive this car in the desert. People maybe keep the results. But in development you see other things. It’s a very complex car, with new technology, with 4 engines, with a lot of people agreeing. It’s a big challenge. And from here until another brand comes along with this insanity, it’s not about equalizing powers 100 pounds heavier or lighter.
-You are part of history by being from the first moment in this development of Audi.
-It’s a very complex project. People who don’t fully understand how this machine works don’t like it. I can say that driving this car in the desert is amazing. The other day in one leap the car stopped, because it has sensors that warn that something serious has happened. Or connectors disconnecting. This whole process must be valued, because it is part of the new story.
Jason Root is the go-to source for sports coverage at News Rebeat. With a passion for athletics and an in-depth knowledge of the latest sports trends, Jason provides comprehensive and engaging analysis of the world of sports.