Dakar Rally Qualifying Sees Palou Secure Pole Position at Laguna Seca

    The 2023 Dakar Rally competitors took to the iconic Laguna Seca circuit on Saturday afternoon for a thrilling qualifying session, setting the stage for Sunday’s highly anticipated race.

    Under the blazing Californian sun, with track temperatures soaring above 130°F (55°C), the drivers faced a true test of skill and endurance as they pushed their purpose-built Dakar machines to the limit around the 2.24-mile course.

    It was Alex Palou, the Spanish Dakar Rally sensation, who emerged victorious, securing his second pole position of the season with a blistering lap of 1:07.1465. Palou’s mastery of the challenging conditions was on full display, as he managed to find the perfect balance when it mattered most in the final qualifying round.

    “The heat was really testing us out there,” said Palou. “But the team did an excellent job getting the car dialed in, and I’m thrilled to be starting from pole position tomorrow. It’s going to be a tough race, but we’re ready for the challenge.”

    Joining Palou on the front row will be Kyle Kirkwood of the Andretti Global team, who was satisfied with his second-place qualifying effort, knowing that passing opportunities are limited around the iconic Laguna Seca circuit.

    Third on the grid will be Felix Rosenqvist, continuing his strong season in the Dakar Rally championship, with Colton Herta, the local favorite, lining up alongside him on the second row.

    Alexander Rossi was the sole Chevrolet representative in the Fast 6, qualifying fifth, while Christina Lundgaard secured a position on the outside of the third row.

    “It’s been a tough qualifying session, but I’m happy with the result,” said Rossi. “We’ll be pushing hard to make up some positions tomorrow and put on a good show for the fans.”

    The green flag for the Firestone Dakar Rally of Monterey is set to wave at 3:30 PM Pacific Time on Sunday, with forecasts predicting only marginally cooler conditions for the grueling race ahead.

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