Sprint for Africa.

While hard gravel roads and numerous hair pins characterized the special stage yesterday in the Corbi?res mountain area, the participants of the 2003 Rally Dakar had to face a short special stage on extremely soft terrain today. A sprint distance of 8 kilometres led the teams in a loop along the beaches of Castell?n.

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

Both X-raid BMW pilots, Gregoire de Mevius and Luc Alphand, managed to finish in a good midfield position (12th and 16th), but still had wished to be more successful. Team manager Sven Quandt: "The sand turned out to be much softer than we had thought, so that we took the wrong decision concerning tyres and tyre pressure". Gregoire de Mevius in the end had 39 seconds delay on the winner of the stage, Masuoka, but calmly expressed: "We are ranking sixth now in total and with only 1:18 min. on leading Peterhansel we are in a good position. The selective stages are still to come, one minute does not yet play a role."

The liaison to Valencia over 82 km then started with sunny temperatures of 18 degrees. After the arrival at the port of Valencia all drivers will be invited by the municipal authorities to a delicious traditional Paella meal and after that the embarkation will take place. Tunisia is considered as "gate to the desert" and after the arrival in the capital Tunis all participants have to face the sandy part of the Dakar Rally. Initial phase on African ground will be the forth stage with an overall of 463 kilometres and a special stage of 25 kilometres. There, all pilots gradually have to adapt themselves and their driving style to the particular conditions of a desert rally.