The Dakar has changed its road book philosophy in recent years, handing over to crews just minutes before the start of each stage instead of the evening before. This leaves co-drivers without time to make their own additions to the road book, which means that they are completely dependent on the information provided by the organizer.
While the change in the timing of delivery of the roadbook has received unanimous support from competitors, who believe it helps raise the bar, some feel that the feedback itself is not always up to par and can lead to navigation errors.
As Audi begins preparations for a second break in the prestigious cross-country rally in Saudi Arabia, Sainz wants the road brochures to be compiled in a way that leaves no room for interpretation.
“We have no problem getting the digital road booklet that is given in the morning,” said three-time Dakar champion Sainz. “What is the problem that there are no errors in the road guide. What is important from my point of view is that the road manuals are not done in a way that does not need to be explained.
“A road guide should be something that can be followed in some way and not in difficult areas [that are] artificial [or] who – which [there] Intersections are easy to miss.
“The effort to get into three cars that an Audi does is great. And if I’m an Audi, I take responsibility. I wouldn’t like it if you put in so much effort and my drivers put in so much effort trying to win a race, and then only with a road guide that isn’t thorough enough And not good enough, you lose a race.
“This is something completely artificial and I think it should be avoided.
“Hopefully the manual is well implemented, the road book is checked once or twice and many things can’t be misinterpreted.”
#202 Audi Sport Team Audi: 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 many drivers got lost trying to find a tricky track point, 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 fell more than two hours in front of the leaderboard, leaving him out of the competition to win at his Audi debut, while teammate Matthias Ekström was caught by the same waypoint.
Audi even considered filing a protest against the road guide after feeling that two of its three drivers had unfairly lost time due to an error on the part of the regulator, but ultimately decided not to do so because the regulations did not allow teams to challenge the contents of the road book.
Sainz said that while navigation should continue to play a major role in the suburban rally, he does not want the Dakar to become a “co-driver race”.
“I understand the race has to be won by the best driver, the best team, the best and fastest car,” he said. “It can’t be a driver’s race where you can win or lose the race depending on how you interpret the road handbook.
“It will not turn into a race that depends on speed, it will depend on something else that is not driving faster. It will depend [on] How to interpret the rule book.
“And I’m not talking about navigation. Last year we had no problems with navigation. When I talk about navigation, I’m going from point A to point B by car. That’s not the problem.
“The problem is you find some intersections, some small intersections that you can’t see and can take you too far and lose a lot of time and then it’s hard to find the right places.
“I am willing to lose a few minutes as it always happens in all the cars I’ve done. I’ve been in the Dakar since 2006, I’ve done many Dakars, and recently, in the last few years, it wasn’t the implementation of these waypoints and things like that before” .
In the immediate aftermath of the first stage, Dakar President David Castera defended the road guide prepared by his team at ASO, pointing out how eventual winner and Toyota driver Nasser Al-Attiyah managed to find the right track point on the first attempt. However, he admitted it may not have been “obvious enough”.