Luc Alphand achieves first victory at Stage 14.
Shining sun, bright snow and a winner podium: During his career as ski-racer, Luc Alphand many times celebrated on the podium and quite as often he was dreaming of being well in front at the Dakar Rally. The 37 years old French had already scratched the first position twice at this rally reaching second places, but today he finally managed to win the stage as it was already predicted by many experts.
After a faultless and smooth drive BMW X5-pilot Luc Alphand was leading by 22 seconds in front of Fontenay/Picard. "It is like a dream, I have won the first stage at the Dakar Rally in my life and I can hardly believe it. There is no comparison, not one of my skiing-victories was as beautiful as this one today", an overjoyed Alphand sputtered after finishing the special stage. "The stage was characterised by demanding navigation and malicious sand fields, but we managed the challenge excellently. My co-pilot Matthew Stevenson has already won a stage at the Dakar Rally, but he is as excited as I am", Alphand expressed before entering his BMW X5 again and leaving for a 375 kilometres liaison to Luxor.
Team manager Sven Quandt was relieved, too: "We are pleased for Luc and Matthew that they managed to be at the top today. After the very unlucky drop out of Gregoire de Mevius, winning the stage means both a good reward and an additional thrust of motivation". Luc Alphand without any burden can now concentrate on accelerating at the last two long stages of the Dakar Rally on Friday and Saturday. Whereas the leaders in the total classification will have to drive tactical in order to secure their positions, the French will try hard to get on to the front and to win the classification of four-wheeled diesel vehicles.
Stage 15 will lead over 576 kilometres (including 477 km special stage) from Luxor to Abu Rish tomorrow. This will be the second stage at the Dakar Rally, where the teams will have to do without GPS satellite navigation system. Again, the roadbooks present numerous changes of direction and all co-pilots will have great responsibility in finding the proper way. The course will be on a well-marked track with sandy and stony patches.