The second part of the marathon stage was the last opportunity to make up time in the overall standing. A stage containing 240 kilometers of the hated camel grass; the last part for man and machine to bite the bullet, followed by a fast track to...
The second part of the marathon stage was the last opportunity to make up time in the overall standing. A stage containing 240 kilometers of the hated camel grass; the last part for man and machine to bite the bullet, followed by a fast track to Mauritania’s Capital City, Nouakchott.
At the crack of down the green light was given to 72 bikes, 65 cars and 40 trucks for a 579 kilometer long Special. Finally a bit more than 40% of the competitors will reach the beach of Dakar. A percentage that would have been much lower if the Organization hadn’t neutralized the rally for 2 days on a moment that a lot of the desert goers completely lost their way.
Bob ten Harkel, the last Dutch car driver who was on a splendid 27th place, was absent from the start. His dream finished due to mounting oil consumption. The remaining competitors started with scourged vehicles and heavily proved bikes. It was the last tough test. As well the leader in the car league as in the truck league didn’t have to take any risk. Both Peterhansel and Tchaguine only had to take care that they reached Mauritania’s coast, a piece of cake given their margin. Only the motorbikes could be surprising as Nani Roma’s advantage on last year’s winner Richard Sainct was only 9.40 minutes.
After Kamaz’ appeal yesterday against Loprais, De Azevedo and Gerard de Rooy, the feelings of the top-truckers were quite mixed. Indeed it’s possible to lodge an appeal against the time penalty, but this will probably won’t come up until February, so that’s of no use now.
At checkpoint 1, after 113 kilometers, the distressed Brazilian’s De Azevedo was fastest with a 2.42 minutes advantage on Kabirov, 4.35 minutes ahead of Stacey, 5.01 minutes ahead of De Rooy, a 5.16 minutes advantage on Loprais and 5.49 minutes ahead of Tchaguine. Hans Bekx passed 8th.
After 210 kilometers it appeared that Andre de Azevedo overstrained his Tatra. A broken front axle took him at least 6 to 7 hours to repair and he couldn’t make this up. Team-mate Karel Loprais did try to help him, but only lost time.
At checkpoint 2, Kabirov had taken over De Azevedo’s place. Gerard de Rooy followed at 6.05 minutes. The two bantams opened up a gap to their rivals. Tchaguine lost 24.53 minutes while Hans Stacey needed 41.56 minutes more than the Russian.
Kabirov was still on the lead at checkpoint 3, followed by the Dutch wunderkind who stuck to his guns. Finally the 2 cracks finished far ahead of their rivals, Gerard finally lost 3.11 minutes.
“It was a great day and a formidable fight. We only saw each other in the morning. It was a fight with nature. Fantastic! At the beginning a lot of rocks but than the most beautiful sand dunes we’ve ever seen,” tells Tom Colsoul.
“So now and than it wasn’t easy. The tracks were different from the road book, and we got lost for a short while. But that was only short. I did damage my bumper a bit; the grill and the rear spring assembly are also broken. I jumped again, but that’s nothing; that will be fixed tonight,” smiles young De Rooy, waited for at the bivouac by Yvo Geusens’ assistance truck.
But no repair after the special. The singing crew of truck number 417 first has to do the liaison of 70 kilometers to the bivouac. Only than the damage will be repaired. “We had two marvelous days, this was Dakar,” smiles a waving De Rooy.
Kamaz’ first man finished 3rd at 28.16 minutes from his colleague Kabirov. Stacey had a wonderful day again. He finished 4th at 1.07.01 hour. Hans Bekx finished 10th at 2.21.22 hours.
This stage hardly damaged the overall leader, Tchaguine. He will gain his 4th title. He has an 1.02.54 hour advantage on Firdaus Kabirov and is 1.29.39 hours ahead of the man who has only aims at one thing: reaching Dakar, but who performed at his young age terrific: Gerard de Rooy.