Cox consolidate third place Alfie Cox, South Africa's top cross-country and off-road hero today consolidated his third place in the overall standings of the 2005 TelefÃ³nica Dakar rally. Cox finished in fourth place on his Gauloises...
Cox consolidate third place
Alfie Cox, South Africa's top cross-country and off-road hero today consolidated his third place in the overall standings of the 2005 Telefónica Dakar rally. Cox finished in fourth place on his Gauloises KTM extending his lead over fourth placed Esedré Esteve Pujol of Spain by 3 minutes.
For the first few kilometres on Senegal soil, the sun had reappeared on the Telefónica Dakar 2005 rally. On the day's 518km special, but the dust on the scenic stage just hung in the air and made visibility extremely difficult. As a contrast to the massive desert dunes and soft sand, the competitors had a 150 meter river crossing to contend toady with the water close to waste height, before continuing in the red dust.
"A typical off road stage in South Africa. We traveled along a lot of twin- track dirt roads and the speeds were very high, although most of the top riders have slowed down a bit to prevent any further accidents," remarked Alfie Cox.
Brazilian amateur, Jean De Azevedo, traveling at a top speed of 189 km/h on his 660cc KTM achieved his very first stage win in the Dakar, beating the Frenchman David Frétigné over the last few kilometres.
Jean was incredibly happy, "I'm thrilled! For the first time I have won a stage on the Dakar. A dream has come true. This is also a victory for my service team. Before the rally, my mechanics worked on my bike for nights on end. Now their hard labor has been rewarded. Also I like to add that the support I receive from KTM is excellent. I'm so happy now."
Chris Blais was in a similar mood. It is his first Dakar and his first rally through the African desert - and the young American is doing a great job. Just like yesterday, Chris clinches a third place. "I am very satisfied," he claimed, "The route and the terrain were to my liking. This year I am here to learn and so far things have worked out very well. I got a bit closer to Dakar today. I definitely want to participate next year again." In the overall Blais claims a 9th spot.
Meanwhile, Cyril Despres is not too concerned about a stage win. He took it easy and crossed the finish line with a 7' deficit on De Azevedo, losing 3'50 on his closest overall rival Marc Coma. The Frenchman now has a 12'16 lead on Coma.
At the finish Alfie Cox describe his experience on the stage, saying: "It was a long day today, almost double of yesterday's stage, which was pretty long. I had problems with my rear mousse and finished the stage with a flat tyre. Main thing is, we will be in Dakar soon. After all it wasn't such a bad day, but I'm impatient to finish this race. However, it's not funny to ride in black Africa, because there are too many people on the track. Today again, we had a lot of villages to cross, with many speed controls. It's quite dangerous because children or animals can cross at any time - just in front of you. So, this is very stressful and you can't have fun on the bike. Added to that, on the other sections, there were very big holes on the track, making it very easy to fall."
With the podium almost in site, competitors will be back on a tarmac tomorrow in the penultimate stage of the 2005 Telefónica Dakar race. A 108 km liaison to the start of the 225 km Special between Tambacounda and Dakar.
Statistically, there are often competitors who are forced to quit in the last few stages of the rally and it will probably happen this year again. For the leaders in the motorcycle race there can still be some upsets although on a special with no significant navigation the big KTM's have a big advantage.
For those who have the energy left, this is a route for specialist drivers. We leave the tropical forest in exchange for the savannah landscapes. With very few landmarks, navigation will fortunately not be very difficult. After the Special, there is a final 200 km stretch of route through Senegal. This ride will be enjoyed by most, because they will taste the finish in Dakar, with no bivouac, but all the vehicles parked at the Meridian Hotel.