Audi’s Sainz calls for clarity on Dakar roadbook after 2022 issues

Dakar has changed its roadbook philosophy in recent years, with pacenotes handed out to crews just minutes before the start of each stage rather than the night before. This leaves co-drivers with no time to make their own additions to the roadbook, meaning they rely heavily on information provided by the organizer.

While the change in roadbook handover time has received unanimous support from competitors, who believe it helps level the field, some feel the notes themselves are not always up to the mark and could lead to on navigation errors.

As Audi begins preparations for a second crack at the prestigious cross-country rally in Saudi Arabia, Sainz wants the roadbooks compiled in such a way that they leave no room for interpretation.

“We have no problem with giving out the digital roadbook in the morning,” said three-time Dakar champion Sainz. “The problem is, there is nothing wrong with the roadbook. What is important in my view is that roadbooks are not made in such a way that you don’t have to interpret the roadbook.

“The roadbook should be something that is somehow possible to follow and not in confusing areas [that are] artificially produced [or] already [there] is easy to miss junctions.

“It was a huge effort to go into the three cars that Audi makes. And if I am Audi I have a responsibility. I wouldn’t like it if I put a lot of effort and my drivers put a lot of effort to try to win a race and then just by the roadbook not being accurate enough and not good enough you lose a race.

“It’s something completely artificial and I think it should be avoided.

“I hope the roadbook is done in a good way, the roadbook is checked once or twice and it’s not possible to misinterpret some things.”

#202 Audi Sport Audi Team: Carlos Sainz, Lucas Cruz

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The opening stage of this year’s Dakar attracted a lot of negative attention as several drivers lost their way trying to find a tricky waypoint, dealing a severe blow to their aspirations just hours into the start of the rally.

Sainz was one of the biggest losers of the day as he dropped more than two hours on the leaders, leaving him in contention for victory in Audi’s debut outing, while teammate Mattias Ekstrom also fell behind at the same waypoint .

Audi even considered filing a protest against the roadbook as it felt two of its three drivers had unfairly lost time due to an error on the organiser’s part, but ultimately decided not to pursue it as the regulations the teams to challenge. the contents of the roadbook.

Sainz said that while navigation should continue to play a central role in cross-country rallies, he did not want the Dakar to become a ‘race of co-drivers’.

“I understand that the race has to be won by the best driver, the best team, the best car and the fastest,” he said. “It can’t be a co-driver race where depending on how you interpret the roadbook you win or lose the race.

“It doesn’t become a race depending on the speed, it depends on something else that doesn’t make the car faster. It depends [on] how you interpret a rulebook.

“And I’m not talking about navigation. Last year, we didn’t have a problem with navigation. When I talk about navigation, I’m going from point A to point B with the car. It’s not the problem.

“The problem is to find some junctions, some small junctions that you don’t see and it can take you far and you lose a lot of time and then finding the right places is difficult.

“I’m ready to lose a few minutes as always happens with all the cars I’ve done. I’ve done the Dakar since 2006, I’ve done many Dakars and in recent years, the implementation of hiding waypoints that this and things like that were unprecedented.”

In the immediate aftermath of Stage 1, Dakar chief David Castera defended the roadbook prepared by his ASO team, noting how the winner and Toyota driver Nasser Al-Attiyah found the right waypoint at the first attempt. However, he admitted that it may not be “clear enough”.

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