Today's Stage

First and last part takes place over the traces of stage 2. You start over the fast sandy plateau up to cross the asphalt road leading to Farafra. Next you climb the dunes' chains of Abu Mingar erg which become increasingly impressive forcing toward few demanding passages with soft cut dunes.

You change CAP pointing toward North-West and while skirting the big chains you start a fast climb over the Abu Mingar cliff over a sandy ground scattered with monoliths laid on the sand up to CP3; beware not to pass too close to those stones because wind has formed big different sand levels solid but little visible.

After approximately 50 km from the start, you leave the traces of stage 2 to continue toward North through many sandy passages alternated by fesh- fesh pools. You keep on climbing staying over the smooth sand which skirts toward West the big Farafra cliff in order to reach the refueling assistance point CP2 over the old asphalt to Ain Dalla. Following the landscape definitely changes, you cross big fesh-fesh pools quite deep hidden by a light sand cover, the view is the best given within the White Desert, a sand maze formed by hundred of worn chalk formations rising in vast sand flows trapped by huge amber-yellow rock peaks.

While climbing toward North the trace becomes stonier and sometimes you leave old tracks and enter few ascending fixed courses which make this sector navigation definitely important. While following over increasingly marked and smooth tracks, you start to notice the Baharia cliff which will lead up to the Finish covering back the first kilometers of stage 2.

A most beautiful and varied third stage in this Pharaons Rallye 2004, with difficulties of all kind and changing terrain. Cyril Despres takes the stage victory at the motorbikes, whereas Henrard becomes more and more uncatchable at the cars.

The third stage of the Pharaons 2004 took the competitors back to Baharija. It was a very beautiful stage with a big variety, from dunes to technical pists to almost trial, then more rolling again, with breathtaking passages in the White Desert. Cyril Despres dominated the motorbike category, a great day for him considering he started second behind Meoni, who was starting fast, but lost precious time due to a technical problem with a crash in consequence where he lost one foot peg and bent his exhaust pipe, and he cannot drive faster then 80-90 kmph. In the end only sixth position for him today. Besides Despres, also the Spaniard Marc Coma had another good day finishing four minutes behind Despres. Third position for Richard Sainct with a gap of another twelve minutes, and fourth place for the Spaniard Isidre Esteve. In fifth position we can find the Chilean Carlo de Gavardo who is doing a great race on his KTM 450 and leads his class. Sixth is Fabrizio Meoni like mentioned before, sixteen minutes behind Despres. Meoni is followed by the other KTM riders Jean Brucy, Pal Anders Ullevalseter, Lee Palmer and Jordi Duran.

In the overall rankings, Despres has moved inf front with 4'46 on Marc Coma and 15'58 on Meoni; fourth Sainct and fifth De Gavardo.

In the car devision the dominance of Stephane Henrard (Buggy-HRT) is tremendous. He definitely decided to increase his existing comfortable lead even further. Today he took another seventeen minute advantage on Marco Tempestini (Nissan Pathfinder-Tecnosport) and Jean Francois Guinot (Volkswagen Buggy-HRT) who finished with exactly the same race time today. Fourth position for the Russian Andrey Ivanov (Nissan Pathfinder- Technosport Russia), almost eighteen minutes behind. Fifth place for Alain Demevius and sixth for Franco Picco who is perfectionating the set up of his Fornisary daily. Problems however for Christian Lavieille, who was forced to change the fuel pump of his car at the assistance point and arrived with a delay at the finish, in 14th position.

In the overall classification, the advantage of Henrard on his team mate Guinot has increased to thirty nine minutes, leaving the third positioned Russian Ivanov another hour and eleven minutes behind, while Lavieille is now in 6th position.

-JVD International