FIRST STAGE: CAIRO - BAHARIJA

TRANSFER: Km 56,40
SPECIAL: Km 329,10
TRANSFER: Km 24,32
TOTAL: Km 409,82

THE STAGE

Departure of the first bike is at 8.00 a.m. in front of the Pyramids in order to ease the need of the many TV networks attending this Pharaons 2009. This affects the timing of the whole first leg, a "classic" stage to reach Baharija, the first oasis of the Egyptian Western desert. It's better to point this key aspect as some passages in the hottest hours of the day could become more challenging than predicted.

The start of the SS1, as usual, is about 60 km from the Sphinx, the stage remains always on the North side of the road, with assistance points along the route.

Ground is the usual one, mixed base of sand and small stones, wavy and smooth.

After the km 113,41 assistance, up to the dunes of km 150,40, many crossings of tracks and petrol asphalts ask for care if taken in speed due to the steps both entering and exiting.

Already the first day we'll taste the dunes, right at km 150,40 with a first short stretch -- around 7 km with CP3 right in the center -- which could become challenging for the sand crossed in the late morning heat which will surprise those who think the first day is only warming up.

From CP3 a nice off-road toward South -- South West toward the second assistance point in the area called "Pylons" this time placed North of the asphalt Cairo -- Baharija.

At the assistance point, another change of CAP, a smooth off-road toward CP5, again among nice dunes that could reveal difficult as the previous ones, as the sand will be less flowing than usual again due to the heat. At CP5 another change of direction, we take a CAP 160 over a fast and solid sand, dunes on the right and on the left toward arrival. Around km 310 we get off the sand area and take again a well visible track, only toward the end of the stage some km off-road are needed in order to avoid the new cultivated areas.

A short transfer of 24 km to reach the bivouac is due to the crops which define the 10,000 mummies oasis expansion; Baharija and you are there.

LOPEZ JUST AROUND THE TOP

The first stop of the Pharaons 2009, the Cairo-Baharija - 410 Km, saw the victory of Francisco 0x00abChaleco0x00bb Lopez at his entry with Aprilia. Second place for his team mate Alex Zanotti and third place for Luca Manca, firts in the 0x00abOpen0x00bb class. Among the cars victory of the egyptian Omar Hani.

BAHARIJA -- This morning at 8.00 am the 12th Pharaons Rally has departed from Giza's Pyramids.

A first stop brought the pilots to Baharija, the 3000 mummies oasis, that will be the crossroads of the course of this year.

All the eyes were stared on the french champion Cyril Despres, away from Egypt from 2004, but the world-beater, that should open the track, runned in a cautious way without strain. Despres also commited a route mistake that made him loose precious time, ending just on a seventh position. Hero of the day has became the chilean Francisco Lopez, engaged for the Pharaons by Aprila Team, at ease with the beautiful italian twin-cylinder. 0x00ab Chaleco 0x00bb, althoug a little navigation mistake, has been really speed and surpassed lots of the pilots that were departed first than him this morning. 3h11'34'' is the time that he spent to cover the 329 Km of the special test, preceeding for a little bit more than four minutes his team mate Alex Zanotti. Alex Zanotti, from San Marino, was third last year. This year he had a very speed departure and surpassed Luca Manca, his tough enemy during the 450 of the last year. The extra-strong pilot from Sardinia, passed this year to the class with KTM and was the faster of the class.

Fourth position for Paolo Ceci, that completed the amazing performance of Team Aprilia. Behind him the portuguese Helder Rodriguez that preceded the polish Jakub Przygonsky andCyril Despres, hang-back of fourteen minutes and a half from the winner Lopez.

The faster car among the nineteen on the starting point was the one of the egyptian Omar Hani (Buggy Alfa Romeo). The strong pilot already proved his excellent abilities and today begun in the best way his Pharaons with a total time of 3.18.55.

Behind him a trio of QT Wildcat commanded by the italians Roberto and Nicola Tovetti, separated from the winner by almost twenty minutes. Third place for Jerome Pelichet/Eugene Decr0x00e8 in front of Michel Visy/Philippe Bourquin. On the fifth position cocluded the twins Aldo and Dario De Lorenzo on his Isuzu D-Max.

Tomorrow the second stop of the Rally will bring tha caravan from Baharija to Dakhla, the big paddy field oasis. 433 are the Km to cover, 386 of which of special test.

-credit: pr