After nine heavy stages Tom Coronel finally managed to get some rest. Special Stage 10 and 11 passed by fluently compared to the previous ones, causing Tom to make it to the bivouac before dark. With only two stages to go the finish appears to be near, but Tom will truly become at ease once he has reached the finish in Buenos Aires this Saturday.
Special Stage 10 - Calama - Salta
The 10th stage took the participants from Chili through the Andes mountains back to Argentina. After a long connection there were still over 385 timed kilometers to go, but they did not cause any problems for Tom. Coronel was running well and the buggy performed fine. At the finish of the stage Tom was therefore in a positive mood. "This was a great day. The trip through the Andes mountains was so fantastic and beautiful and the stage was quite fast. I did loose some time because I had the impression that the engine was overheating. A day before the coolant reservoir broke and I was afraid that this problem occurred again. I stopped to check it, but I discovered that I was too cautious. At that moment I was driving through heavy terrain and that caused the temperature to rise. Once I was back on track the problem disappeared," Tom explained after finishing Special Stage 10.
Special Stage 11 Salta - Termas de Rio Hondo
The 11th stage from Salta to Termas de Rio Hondo also went well. In Dakar terms it was a relatively short stage and Tom enjoyed himself well, until: "The alternator broke again! I really hate to see that this appears to be one of the weak spots from the buggy. It not only costs time, but also a lot of effort to replace it. I already start to get the hang of it and replacing the alternator takes less time at every occasion." Trouble hit Tom again in the end of the stage, because 30 kilometers ahead of the finish the small buggy got stuck in the fesh fesh and Tom could not get it out by himself. Fortunately Paul Verheyen stopped and gave Tom a tow to the finish, causing Tom to arrive on time in the bivouac once more.
Today's stage is the last serious stage prior to the finish of Dakar on Saturday. The stage runs from Termas de Rio Hondo to Rosario, the final stop ahead of Buenos Aires. The day consists of a connection of 248 kilometers and 298 kilometers of Special Stage.