<pre> Friday, January 11, 2002 Stage 14 - Tichit to Kiffa Marathon Two, Part I BIKES FABRIZIO MEONI "The problem was the sand with all the rain. If you tried to follow the track, the front tyre would pull and you would come off. The...
<pre> Friday, January 11, 2002 Stage 14 - Tichit to Kiffa Marathon Two, Part I
"The problem was the sand with all the rain. If you tried to follow the track, the front tyre would pull and you would come off. The rain made the terrain so slippery. The other competitors will find it very difficult. Near the finish the navigation was complicated. I managed to find it alone, but I did lose the track. The Dakar is never over until the Lac Rose. When I left this morning, I thought that the race was lost and the stage would not permit me to go fast. At PC2, I thought, when someone told me that Roma had fallen, he had just lost some time. I continued quickly and I fell. At the refuelling PC, no-one arrived. Nani had everything to gain. But I used my head, stayed sensible, rather than use the gas.."
"I lost myself. I arrived in a rocky area. I was desperate and was lost and tried to climb. Then I fell. I don't know. how. Gerard Holtz (TV crew) found me. I was breathing badly and was hyperventilating. This year I have never been so close to winning the Dakar."
"We had a good stage. The sand was so slippery because of the rain. Navigation was important. There was a tricky point in the road book and the GPS said go on for another 200 metres. We found the right track and this was crucial. The others got lost. It will be so difficult for the trucks to get through that stage. By my calculation we are 18 minutes behind Hiro now. Maybe I am the 'lady of the last day', who knows, but it is only a couple of broken driveshafts and we could win the Dakar..."
"We lose our way for 20 kms. Normal day for me. If you ask me if 18 minutes is enough, I say yes."
"The start of the stage was the same as the end of the stage from the other day and it was very bumpy, not good for my back and my neck. I was running well. We passed the chott (dried salt lake) with no problems and then I had two punctures. This cost me a lot of time. The sand was so slippery because of the rain. I have taken part in 17 Dakars and this was the first time I saw rain like this. I will need some good luck tomorrow if I am to win, because the stage is only short."
"It's the first since I came to Africa that I have had to drive all alone with the rain like that with the windscreen wipers on. It was slippery, we got a bit lost. It was incredible, we have driven for 50 kms like that, but never for a whole day. There was no grip and that made it really difficult. The sand was wet and the wheels makes a hole. We had to be careful, but it was not to bad for us, it will be worse for some of the others. I have no interest in attacking now, because I have nothing to win. I did the stage slowly with Masuoka. Now we know the classification, Masuoka should be first. We will see the team orders tonight..."