After a day of mourning in memory of Fabrizio Meoni, time had come to get back on the bikes and carry on the race. With a black scarf on their arms, the 108 took off for the 370kms of the special between Bamako and Kayes. The fastest on the day...
After a day of mourning in memory of Fabrizio Meoni, time had come to get back on the bikes and carry on the race. With a black scarf on their arms, the 108 took off for the 370kms of the special between Bamako and Kayes. The fastest on the day was Andy Caldecott, the Aussie clinching his second stage success on the rally.
After the cars and trucks yesterday, it was the bikers' turn to pay tribute to one of the greatest heroes of the Dakar, Fabrizio Meoni. With a black scarf around their arm, the riders took off in the middle of the Bamako night, on a 205km liaison to head to the start of the day's special. The sun had just set when the first bikers started their race with Marc Coma in the leading position (after winning the last special). It appeared however that the official KTM favourites had decided to start gently with Andy Caldecott clocking the best time at the first check point (km 152), ahead of Chris Blais on a very technical track. David Frétigné reacted at the second CP (km 246) with the best time while overall leader Cyril Despres had to stop and repair exhaust pipe problems after hitting stones on a small fall. The Frenchman indeed lost time but made up for it in the last very fast portion of the special. Meanwhile, Andy Caldecott was flying to his second win on the rally and crossed the finish line with a 2'06 on Frétigné and 3'32 on Chris Blais who manages his best performance so far.
The overall leadership remains in the hands of Cyril Despres who comforts his lead on Marc Coma. The Frenchman now has a 16'06 on Coma who finished ninth on the day (at 9'34) while Despres was 8th at 8'36.
On four wheels, the main difficulty, like yesterday concerned the narrow paths and many trees. It didn't however seem to be too much of a problem for Stephane Peterhansel. The title holder rapidly caught Giniel De Villiers' Nissan Pickup (who had taken off first after his win yesterday) and passed the South African before CP1. He then took advantage of a navigation error from his team mate Luc Alphand to take full command of the stage with the best time at CP2 (km 246). On the finish line, the Red armada managed the double with 'Peter' beating his team mate Alphand by 4'17 while De Villiers had to settle for third spot at 7'59. Peterhansel wins his 15th special on four wheels and his 48th overall.The good news of the day came both from Thierry Magnaldi who grabbed an excellent 4th spot in his Honda buggy while Nani Roma (MIT) finished 5th, his best ever performance on four wheels.It was a whole different story for Jutta Kleinschmidt (VW) and her 'bodyguard' Bruno Saby, who lost an extra 12' on 'Peter' and 8' on Alphand. The German driver is now 1h30 adrift in the overall.The fright of the day came from Josep-Maria Servia who went for a tumble in his Schlesser-Ford buggy, 10km after CP2 (where he had clocked the third best time). No worries for driver and co-driver, but the vehicle appeared to be badly damaged and was slowly heading to the finish.
The truck race saw a DAF 1-2-3... Indeed, in outstanding fashion, Gerard De Rooy took off in first spot after his first win yesterday and flew to his second triumph. The DAF trucker crossed the finish line with a huge 18'50 lead on his father Jan while Belgian Hugo Duisters on another DAF managed an excellent third spot at 31'23. Fourth was four-time Dakar Vladimir Tchaguine (KAM), 33'17 adrift, while his team mate and overall leader Firdaus Kabirov finished with a 51'55 deficit on De Rooy. Not too much of a concern for the Russian who still has a comfortable 2h40 lead on Hans Bekx (DAF).
Cyril Després (Gauloises KTM) 7th at 8'18 - 1st overall
The first 150 kms were very fast, with villages, jumps and quite a lot of other stuff to look out for on the road book. To be honest I found it quite difficult to concentrate and a bad stomarch didn't help. At around 200 km a made a little mistake, hit a rock and had a small fall, that flattened the right exhaust pipe and strangled the engine's power. At km 245 we came to refuelling and Jean (Brucy) helped me cut the pipe just before the flat and liberate the power. The important thing today was just to get through it. We knew that over a narrow, dusty track, with lots of speed controls, nothing much would change as far as our positions were concerned. Although it was sometimes hard to keep my mind on the job, I didn't regret my decision to continue.
Alfie Cox (Gauloises KTM) 4th at 4'29 - 3th overall at 20'39
It was a day from hell and I am just glad it is over. There was just one track and a lot of dust and it made it impossible to overtake. At one moment I came up behind De Azevedo and tried to get past him, but hit something in dust and banged my leg. After that I gave up and sat behind him.
David Fretigné (Gauloises Yamaha) 2nd at 2'06 - 5th overall at 34'05
I didn't feel as bad on the bike as I had feared and the fact that the going was quite technical and required a lot of concentration helped me keep my myself focused. I overtook 2 or 3 other riders but it was so dusty that we pretty much all stayed in a line.
Jean Brucy (Gauloises KTM) 8th at 8'57 - 10th overall at 3.05'23
I hadn't even got out of the bivouac before I realised that my road book reader wasn't working so I went back to the T4 (rapid assistance truck) to get the problem fixed. It meant I had to rush through the liaison a little, but I nevertheless managed to start on time. I started the special behind Alfie and just rode at a normal pace -- just fast enough not to get caught up by everyone and get covered in dust. The only person who came past me was Caldecott and I hung back to stay out of his wake.
Alain Duclos (Gauloises Toni-Togo) 11th at 18'41 - 14th overall at 4.44'22
Eric Verhoef (Gauloises KTM) 25th at 44'32 - 22th overall at 8.49'16
Yvo Kastan (Gauloises KTM) 46th 1.06'56 35th overall at 14h10'23
JM Servia (Gauloises Schlesser) 63th at 2.26'34 - 19th overall at 24.20'26
Regis Sellier (Gauloises Schlesser Team Manager)
The buggy made it back to the bivouac OK but on seeing the extent of the damage we quickly realised we had a problem. Although the car runs, there is no way we can make repairs that will allow it to pass a scrutineer's inspection and so we have been forced to retire. We are all very disappointed as our mission was to get Jose to Dakar.
Syndieli Wade (Gauloises Nissan) 35th at 1.17'14 - 44th overall at 40.48'01
Yesterday was a tough day. It was quite long and very dusty. We stopped to help a friend and didn't get in until 4 in the morning. Today was much better and I'm getting more and more excited the close we get to Dakar. I finished the 'Dakar' when it went to Eygpt but to finish the 'Dakar' in Dakar will be something else all together. I'm just keeping everything crossed that we don't have any problems between no and then...
Jan De Rooy (Gauloises DAF) 2nd at 18'50 - 5th overall at 7.32'32
Gerard De Rooy (Gauloises DAF) 1st - 6th overall at 10.11'15
The last two days have been the first ones of the rallye where we haven't had any trouble -- at last we have been able to show what we can do. It was a great special today -- I love it when the rallye gets to Black Africa. There are a lot of villages but with the GPS everybody has to slow down. The people who run the rallye also do a lot of work to inform the local population and it is all very well organised.