Alphand close to win Stage 13.

As an Ocean of Dunes where under normal circumstances nobody dares to venture, the organizers of the 25th edition of the Dakar named the territory of stage between Siwa and Dakhla over a distance of 657 kilometres today. As it is well-known that the participants of the Dakar Rally fear no challenge, they really did make their way through the Ocean of Dunes, not sailing but namely they drove through.

Luc Alphand and Matthew Stevenson.
Photo by BMW X5 Rally Raid Team.

The roadbook of the co-pilots directed the teams over a 569 kilometres lasting classification stage with X-raid pilot Luc Alphand being one more time just about to win the stage. The former downhill-ski world champion got his 270 HP strong BMW X5 diesel engine to intensified work again, nevertheless showing a good portion of caution. Warned by the mishap of team colleague de Mevius (retired at the previous stage after accident) the French completed the first two sections of the special stage very controlled. The second half of the stage led through the "White Desert", a typical limestone formation in the region, where Alphand dictated the fastest pace to the rest of the field. Despite the best time at this part of the course he did not manage to catch up with the Scandinavian Nissan-team Vatanen/Thorner. With 1:18 minutes back, Alphand finished second place in the day classification and is now ranking 11th in total.

Four stages before the Dakar Rally will finish, stage 14 will lead the caravan from Dakhla to the legendary temples of Luxor tomorrow. On their special stage with a distance of 274 kilometres (702 km in total), the teams will drive on a track which camel caravans took on their way to Sudan at the times of the Pharaoes.