Tim en Tom Coronel: Dakar

On 4 January 2015, the Coronel brothers appeared for the first time wearing the ERU Prestige cheese helmet at the start of the world’s most challenging rally. In 2015, both brothers were still driving in their own buggies. From 2018, however, Tim and Tom embarked on this adventure together with The Beast!


The Beast 2.0 is ready for Dakar 2019!

Tim and Tom have been working on a new version of The Beast for the better part of a year. “During the 2018 rally, I made a list of points I wanted to adapt. Over the past year, we’ve improved all these points – and more,” says Tim during the team presentation. The first trial run with the revised car looks promising. “We ran into zero issues and experimented a lot with the suspension and shock absorbers. We had a good feeling about the car. We really started itching to get back on the road,” says Tom – who’s equal parts relieved and impatient. On to Dakar 2019!


Time for the first challenge of Dakar 2019

This year’s route is limited to Peru, and the main theme of the rally is sand. The programme includes ten arduous stages that will ask the utmost of Tim, Tom and their beloved Beast. And now, the time has come to see whether the brothers’ preparations have paid off, during the first stage. At a modest distance of 84 km, it doesn’t seem too demanding at first glance. “But a few stretches were actually quite nasty – very tricky driving,” says Tom. “The car held up very well, particularly compared to last year. Back then we had a lot of issues with temperature control, so we’ve paid extra attention to this issue. Fortunately, this year we’ve got it firmly under control.”


Early phase of the rally runs smoothly for Coronel twins

Nor does the second stage throw up any significant problems. Although the brothers briefly lose their way in the Peruvian dunes, they still manage to get to the bivouac on time. While day 3’s route is very challenging, Tim and Tom take it in their stride. They cross the day 3 finishing line in an impressive 17th place. “Not your typical Coronel day! Normally speaking, we’d be sleeping in the desert, tinkering with our buggy for hours and going from one problem to the next. But this time round we had nothing of the sort!” says a smiling Tom.


Exhausting end to marathon stage for Tim and Tom

On Day 4, however, Tim and Tom get a taste of the desert’s fickle side. During the first half of the marathon stage, problems with the starter motor bring their buggy to a standstill. The brothers spend hours digging out the buggy so they can clear the problem. They arrive at the finishing line just before nightfall, after they stay up for hours more, working on The Beast. During the 452-km special to Arequipa, it becomes clear that some issues haven’t been completely resolved. Problems with the tyre decompression system and bodywork cause the necessary delays. “But we made it through again. And with the rest day, we have time to overhaul our car – and get some rest ourselves too.”


Rough start to second Dakar week

After a day’s rest, the brothers can look forward to the longest stage of Dakar 2019. Things go awry even before they cross the starting line, when the rear brake line catches fire. Fortunately this problem is quickly resolved. However, they soon get into a new pickle after entering the steep dunes in the very first part of the stage. Within 20 kilometres of the starting line, Tim and Tom dive into a huge pit. “It was quite a blow, and we ended up breaking our suspension,” explains Tim. They wait for the service truck and spend hours tinkering on The Beast before they can get back to business. After trying to make it through the dunes after dark, the brothers eventually decide to spend the night in the desert. At dawn break the twins make a bee-line towards the bivouac. After arriving there they can go straight on to the start of stage 7.


End in sight for Coronels

Fortunately, the relatively short 7th stage doesn’t bring any new setbacks for the Coronels. Tim: “An absolute delight. Everything that went wrong yesterday went well today. You occasionally need a day like this during the Dakar.” The brothers close the 8th stage with a respectable top 25 ranking. The end is in sight for the racing twins, because the 9th stage is seen as the last serious test in Dakar 2019.


Ninth stage shows its teeth

And number 9 lives up to its reputation. Most of this challenging stretch doesn’t pose too many problems: Tom effectively navigates past all the potential snags and Tim plots a perfect route through the enormous dunes. But the brothers are thrown off course some 60 kilometres before that day’s finishing line. They crash into a deep pit, at which point their suspension once again gives the ghost. After brief consultation and the help of some locals, Tim and Tom decide to leave the suspension for what it is and press on. “Our front suspension was completely warped, but we continued nonetheless. A wise decision, because we arrived in the bivouac just before dark,” recalls Tom.


Tim and Tom cross the Dakar 2019 finishing line

After some final trials in the 10th stage – which proves harder than expected – the brothers cross the finishing line, filled with pride. “I think this has been our best Dakar ever. We didn’t run into too many really big problems – we more or less resolved all the issues that stood in our way last year. And we could really go all-out a few times, so we really succeeded in achieving what we set out to do,” says a relieved Tom. Tim also has fond memories of this Dakar edition. “A very, very, very rewarding Dakar as far as I’m concerned. ‘The Beast 2.0’ held up very well, as far as the things we worked on are concerned. We only have a few other points for improvement. Next year, Version 3.0!”

Dakar Rally 2018: Bigger, better, faster, stronger & together!

After each passing the finish line in their own buggies last year, Tim and Tom Coronel feel it’s time for something new. This year, the brothers will be sitting side by side in a car built by Jefferies Racing. In other words, they’ll be taking on the world’s toughest rally together. Although it officially still falls within the buggy category, the vehicle’s Hummer-like appearance has already earned it a nickname: the twins affectionately refer to it as ‘The Beast’.


First stage not without problems for Coronel twins

The 40th edition of the Dakar Rally starts in the Peruvian capital of Lima. The opening stage includes a long connecting route followed by a 31-km special through the dunes of Lima. This is far from a smooth ride. The brothers need to make a number of stops along the way, to fix stalled brakes and an overheated engine. “We’ll have to do an all-nighter to get everything back in working order. Still, I’m certain that things will turn out OK,” says Tom, looking back on the first stage.


New setbacks for Tim and Tom

Unfortunately, during the second stage it becomes clear that the engine’s heating problems aren’t over just yet. Still, the brothers manage to make it into the bivouac on time. Although the next day, they are less lucky – meaning they’re forced to spend the night in the desert. “You could forget about doing the final stretch of the stage in the dark. The sun came up again at 5:30, and we couldn’t wait to get back on the road. We made it to the finishing line without further problems!”


Challenging stages – with no problems to speak of

The Coronel brothers don’t run into any major issues in the following stages. The stages are all very challenging, but The Beast holds up well under pressure. A good sign for the next stages of the rally. But first, it’s time for a well-earned day’s rest.


The Beast puts in an excellent marathon stage

After the rest day, the next item on the programme is the marathon stage. This means that once they’ve arrived at the bivouac, the brothers aren’t allowed to have any outside help. After a straightforward drive, the brothers divide up the tasks in the bivouac: Tim handles technical matters while Tom works on the road book. In the second half of the marathon stage, the Coronels once again show what they’re made of. The twins continue to chalk up competitive split times and end in the top 30. On Monday, there’s an unexpected break when the organisers call a new rest day. They’ve decided to scrap that day’s stage due to flooding.


On to the finishing line

After this, Tim and Tom prepare for the closing phase of the rally. The team have taken the extra rest day as an opportunity to overhaul The Beast, and the buggy is ready to take on the final kilometres. Temperatures quickly rise over the course of the day, and the brothers have to constantly check the car’s parts for overheating. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen and Tim and Tom arrive at the bivouac on time before it closes for the night.


Final stages bring new struggle with The Beast

The Beast is a force to be reckoned with – as Tim and Tom once again prove during the 11th stage, finishing in the top 25. The buggy does look the worse for wear, however: it has lost its bonnet en route. The next day brings bigger problems: the brothers have to finish the final 150 km at a speed of 40 km per hour due to problems shifting gears. And in the 13th stage, their vehicle takes another hit: after losing its bonnet and rear bodywork, The Beast now has to continue without a windshield. New issues with the gears turn the 800-km stage into a serious ordeal. Still, after pulling into the bivouac, there are a mere 120 kilometres between the Coronels and the finishing line!


First joint finish with The Beast for Tim and Tom

The next day, the brothers do what they set out to achieve in Dakar 2018: with a big grin on their face, they cross the finishing line together, in The Beast. “We did it!” shouts an exuberant Tim as he hugs his brother. “What an adventure – this must have been the hardest Dakar ever. But we never give up, as we showed them once again!”

Dakar 2017: Tim and Tom Coronel are coming!

For the third year in a row, Tim and Tom Coronel can both be found on the Dakar Rally starting line. According to the organisers, this edition promises to be the ‘harshest rally ever on South American soil’. Tom looks ahead: “The race organisers had already warned us. This will be the most difficult edition of all: the waypoints are a lot harder to find and they’ll even be hiding a few. So it’s tougher than previous years – but that only makes it cooler!” The brothers’ goal is clear: this year, they’re determined to reach the finishing line together.


Dakar Rally gets off to a good start

The two first stages run smooth as silk for Tim and Tom. But in the third stage the brothers go from one extreme to the other. The local temperature at the start is still around 35 degrees, while a couple of hours later it has dropped to 5 degrees. This mainly has to do with the difference in altitude: the Coronels have driven from 1,400 to over 5,000 metres above sea level. The day starts fine, but over the course of the stage Tom runs into clutch problems. Tim takes his brother in tow, before this job is taken over by Boucou’s swift service truck. Tim is able to reach the bivouac under his own steam.


Brothers hampered by the weather

For the 4th stage, the brothers decide to hedge their risks and drive together. After all, their goal is to reach the finishing line in Buenos Aires together. A wise move, since this stage proves to be an uphill battle. Thirty kilometres in, Tom comes to a standstill due to new problems with his clutch. He once again has to ask the towage service to transport his buggy to the bivouac. However, when the weather suddenly changes the organisers decide to close this location. So when Tom arrives there, he actually isn’t allowed in. Tom decides to spend a night out on the route and continue his journey the next day.


New problems for Tom

Due to the poor weather conditions, the organisers decide to cancel the next stage. The following day had already been scheduled as a rest day, so the brothers and the team have two days to solve Tom’s clutch problems. And they can make good use of this extra rest, because Tom’s buggy plays up again during the first part of the marathon stage. This time round, it’s an issue with the oil pressure. Tom has no choice but to once again call the towage service for assistance. As a result, he only pulls into the bivouac in the early morning. Where he can get straight to work, trying to figure out what’s wrong with the buggy so he can get back on the road. Fortunately, the second half of the marathon stage doesn’t present any new setbacks.


Finishing line in sight

The tenth stage doesn’t yield any major surprises for Tim and Tom. Although they arrive at the bivouac in the middle of the night, at least they make it in, which is the most important thing. And the brothers pass the last serious test, the stage from San Juan to Rio Cuarto, with flying colours. All that’s left now is a final 64-km sprint to the finishing line.


A dream come true

And this penultimate stage doesn’t pose a problem for Tim and Tom either. From there, the brothers make their way to Buenos Aires where they drive onto the podium together. They’re given a warm welcome by a host of ecstatic fans. “For a moment, it was a bit touch and go, but thankfully we got there. We made it to the finish! It feels fantastic to stand here on the podium together with my brother,” says a beaming Coronel.

Tim and Tom once again face Dakar challenge together

Against all expectations, Tim has once again convinced his brother to participate in this year’s Dakar Rally. Dakar 2016 will run through Argentina and Bolivia. The organisers had to take Peru off the itinerary in view of the havoc El Niño is expected to wreak in that country.


Dakar adventure ends for Tom after 4th stage

Tim and Tom’s stamina is put to the test from the very first stage of the punishing Dakar Rally. Both drivers run into technical problems, and Tom even needs to be towed for 200 km by the service truck. Tim’s troubles seem to be over after stage 3, but Tom’s buggy continues to play up. And soon after the start of stage 4, it becomes clear that Tom will have to throw in the towel. There’s a recurring issue with his vehicle’s fuel line: a cause of many delays. With the marathon stage coming up, Tom understands that pulling out of the race is the only option left.


Tim positive about the next stages

Fortunately, the problems with Tim’s buggy appear to be solved. The next stages are relatively straightforward, and while he doesn’t get much time to sleep, Tim remains quite optimistic. After the day of rest, it’s time to hit the dunes – a part that Tim has been looking forward to. “I can shine in the dunes,” is how he put it prior to Dakar 2016. And he isn’t mistaken: his buggy appears in its element in the dunes along the 767-km stage between Salta and Belen.


Heaviest stages go well

“The day of rest is followed by a few demanding stretches,” ASO, the Dakar organisers, had announced. And they weren’t kidding, although Tom is more than up to the challenge. “To be honest, the past three days went without a hitch – which is nice. I can finally show the potential of my buggy: a great feeling. It’s as if the heavier the stage gets, the better my baby performs.”


Tim Coronel passes the finishing line

After Tim successfully rounds off the 12th stage, the finishing line slowly but surely edges into view. Still, Tim keeps a level head. “The final stage wasn’t too difficult, but it’s only over when the chequered flag drops.” It may be a short stretch, but a downpour has turned the route into an ocean of mud. Tim takes his time for the final metres, since most of his windscreen is covered with mud. But as soon as he passes the finishing line, that’s in the past: “Yes!! We did it! Wow, what a fantastic feeling. And now, on to the podium in Buenos Aires!”

Coronel twins both line up at Dakar 2015

On 4 January 2015, Tim and Tom appear at the starting line in Buenos Aires of the world’s most gruelling rally. They’re both driving their own buggies, which they have designed and built themselves. While Tim will be focussing on a high ranking, Tom is doubling as an inside reporter for RTL GP.

Premature end to Dakar adventure threatens for both drivers

Both Tim and Tom do well in the 838-km long opening stage, ending 55th and 49th respectively. The second stage – the longest in this year’s edition – soon proves more demanding. Tim ends by the wayside with two flat tyres and a broken steering column, after which Tom offers his steering column as a replacement. However, Tim runs into clutch problems. Both men spend the night in the desert. The next day Tim needs to be towed to the bivouac by the service truck – making it too late for the next start as a result. This spells the end of this year’s Dakar rally for Tim.

Tom continues after contesting a disqualification

For a brief moment, it appears as if Tom will also be saying goodbye to this year’s rally. He is disqualified after the second stage since he did not complete the official route. Coronel confirms that he didn’t pass the finish line, but this is after having been ordered to help another driver. He subsequently drove the other entrant to the bivouac. Still waiting for the organisers’ ruling, Tom decides to participate in the following stages.

A Dakar rally isn’t complete without hardship

The remainder of the rally puts new challenges on his path. Route changes due to the bad weather, sleeping in the desert and arriving at the Bolivian-Chilean border without your passport: Tom has some interesting stories for the people back home. The final leg of the rally is less eventful, and Tom can get some well-earned rest when he pulls in after stages 10 and 11.

Tom Coronel finishes 2015 Dakar Rally

After a very short end stage, Tom Coronel passes the Dakar 2015 finishing line. The final stretch has become impassable due to the bad weather and the organisers decide to cancel the stage after 34 kilometres. The only trip left to make is the one back to Argentina, where the podium is waiting for the drivers.

Minor disappointment in Buenos Aires

After arriving in Buenos Aires, there is still a final disappointment in store for Tom. Earlier on in the race, he had appealed his disqualification. But as long as no official ruling has been made, the entrant in question isn’t allowed to drive across the podium during the closing ceremony. While of course this puts a slight damper on the festivities for Tom, it doesn’t take away from what he has achieved this edition.

Tom looks back on the 2015 rally

Tom Coronel: “In terms of distance, today’s stage wasn’t that big a deal, but it was impossible to complete. The entire buggy was covered in mud and things only got worse as we continued. The stage was neutralised and we travelled back to Buenos Aires by road. So many fans had turned out – it was incredible! I wasn’t allowed to drive across the podium because we had appealed the disqualification. Which I find a bit strange, since they did let us complete the entire rally. But rules are rules. I’m happy to have made it, and it’s a huge victory for me personally.”