Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage 11 report

After the change of course recommended by the Foreign Ministry, the participants of the 29th Dakar enjoyed a half-day's rest in Nema swept across by the howling winds of the Sahel before heading -- on a no timed route -- to Ayoun-el-Atrous, a...

After the change of course recommended by the Foreign Ministry, the participants of the 29th Dakar enjoyed a half-day's rest in Nema swept across by the howling winds of the Sahel before heading -- on a no timed route -- to Ayoun-el-Atrous, a small town located tome 280 km from the start. At this stage in the raid, 142 bikers, 112 car teams and 60 trucks are still in the race; the retinue has lost a big third of its volume since Lisbon.

The leaders in the race, who have now covered 3,416 kilometers against the clock at the sustained pace of 83,48 km/on average for Marc Coma on a bike and 90,87 km/h for Stéphane Peterhansel in his Mitsu, finally had the opportunity to enjoy the scenery without thinking race strategy or worrying about the threats of mechanical breakdowns.

On the bikers' side, the gearboxes of the big KTM 690 have stopped causing trouble over the last few days to the greatest satisfaction of Marc Coma, who has more than an hour's lead on Cyril Despres in the overall rankings but he is now without teammates since the withdrawals of Viladoms and Sala. This loneliness at the top kept going today on the stretch of asphalt as the main stakeholders in the race kept respectable distances between one another.

In the cars category, just like in 2005 and 2006 Mitsubishi is being faced with rich people's problems with Stéphane Peterhansel in the lead and Luc Alphand second at 9'56'' of the leader in the overall rankings. The last two winners of the Dakar drove together to Ayoun, whilst Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah, winner of the last special stage, is still raging against the delay -- longish indeed but statutory -- with which he was imposed a penalty for speeding. The 39-minute penalty cost him the third place on the podium, still held by Jean-Louis Schlesser.

The double confrontation between Peter and Alphand and between Schlesser and Al Attiyah should make the show in the last days of the race during which the rally will go back to Mali and then enter Senegal. In preparation to getting back to black Africa, the daily briefing of Etienne Lavigne to participants will again handle the main measures taken by the road safety plan of the Dakar e.g. in terms of bypassing villages and sticking to the speed limit.

-credit: gr

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Jean-Louis Schlesser , Stéphane Peterhansel , Cyril Despres , Marc Coma