Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage 14 report

For the first kilometres on Senegal soil, the sun had reappeared on the Telefonica Dakar 2005 rally. On the day's 518km special, Jean De Azevedo conquered his very first stage success beating David Frétigne in the last kilometres of the bike ...

For the first kilometres on Senegal soil, the sun had reappeared on the Telefonica Dakar 2005 rally. On the day's 518km special, Jean De Azevedo conquered his very first stage success beating David Frétigne in the last kilometres of the bike race.

A bright sun was shining on the bivouac of Tambacounda when the first competitors of the rally made it to the finish line of the stage. A warm Senegal welcome for the 217 remaining competitors who are now only two stages away from the Lac Rose. After unexplained and terrible conditions for the main part of the event, the perfect but windy weather crowned a Brazilian in the bike race. Indeed, for the first time on two wheels, Jean De Azevedo (KTM) claimed a stage win for his country. Brazil had however won several specials thanks to André De Azevedo (brother of Jean) in the truck race. The little Brazilian on his big KTM took advantage of the last kilometres after CP3 to clinch victory beating David Frétigné by only 10".

Indeed the Frenchman had been leading the race from the very start with the best times at all three check points but on his lighter Yamaha 450cc, failed to be quite as fast on the last portion where speed was key. Third on the day, like yesterday, was Chris Blais who managed another fine performance for his first appearance in the race. The American finished just 23" adrift on what proved to be the closest special so far in Africa. On the dusty and narrow paths of Senegal, Andy Caldecott looked to be heading for another fine special but a rear wheel problem at km 320 forced the Aussie to stop, repair and eventually lose over 20' on the finish line

Meanwhile, Cyril Despres, not too concerned by a stage win, took it easily and crossed the finish line with a 7' deficit on De Azevedo, losing 3'50 on his closest overall rival Marc Coma. The Frenchman keeps a 12'16 lead on Coma.

On four wheels, there was only one man to watch... His name? Ari Vatanen. After suffering various worries all along the Dakar, the Finn clinched his 51st stage success in outstanding fashion. Taking off in 9th position this morning, the four-time winner of the event flew to victory on a course suited to his driving skills and his Nissan Pickup. Vatanen overtook seven vehicles 'en route' to the win. He crossed the finish line with a 9'16 lead on his closest rival on the day, Bruno Saby while his team mate Giniel De Villiers had to settle for third spot at 11'45.The European MP could have been annoyed by another late starter Robby Gordon, second at the first two CPs (1'58 behind at CP2, km 258) but poor old Robby was forced to stop his fine effort to help out Volkswagen team mate Jutta Kleinschmidt. The German was indeed stopped at km 268 with no more steering and for team reasons, Gordon gave a helping hand and especially his steering system to keep Jutta's hopes for a third place on the podium alive... The American was then left stranded on the road waiting for the spare parts in his assistance trucks.

Meanwhile, the day went rather calmly for the Mitsubishi cars of leader Stephane Peterhansel and his team mate Luc Alphand, second overall. No risks were to be taken so close to Dakar for the Frenchmen! They therefore took off with water protections for the river crossing at CP1, stopped to get rid of them and carried on without really being concerned about the leading positions. Both finished over 20' adrift. The good news was that their comfortable overall lead was made even greater with Kleinschmidt's mechanical worries. Peterhansel now has a 26'41 lead on Alphand and well over 3 hours on the Volkswagen Race Touareg of the German driver.

BIKES

Cyril Després (Gauloises KTM) 7th at 7'00 - 1st overall

Again today I found it hard to concentrate. I could manage 20 kms at a stretch but then my mind would wonder off. I went slowly from the start. Marc (Coma) came up behind me but with all the dust it was difficult for anybody to overtake. There was at least some beautiful scenery today...

Alfie Cox (Gauloises KTM) 4th at 0'34 - 3th overall at 14'13

It was a typical end of Dakar stage -- the kind when if everything goes normally nothing changes, but where there is always the possibility of someone getting caught out by the going or a blown mousse. Basically though there wasn't much racing -- there was too much dust, too many people and too many radars.

David Fretigné (Gauloises Yamaha) 2nd at 0'10 - 5th overall at 27'15

I found it difficult to concentrate again today. I love the scenery here, love to come racing in Africa but I think there needs to be some changes in how the race is run. When we get back everybody should get round a table and see what we can do to improve things.

Jean Brucy (Gauloises KTM) 9th at 12'34 - 10th overall at 3.10'57

Marc (Coma) caught me after about 50 kms and then that pulled away, leaving me with a dust free run. Overall the special was rolling but you had to watch out for the holes and ruts in the dust -- it would have been easy to have a stupid fall. I'm looking forward to getting to the end and seeing my wife and two brothers.

Alain Duclos (Gauloises Toni-Togo) 11th at 23'46 - 14th overall at 5.01'08

Eric Verhoef (Gauloises KTM) 34th at 1.17'49 - 22th overall at 9.50'05

Yvo Kastan (Gauloises KTM) 34th à 1.23'48 - 37th overall at 15.27'11

CARS

Syndieli Wade (Gauloises Nissan) th at - 44th overall at

TRUCKS

Jan De Rooy (Gauloises DAF) nd at - 5th overall at

Gerard De Rooy (Gauloises DAF) st - 6th overall at

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Luc Alphand , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Stéphane Peterhansel , Ari Vatanen , Jean Brucy , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Eric Verhoef , Bruno Saby , Marc Coma , David Fretigne , Chris Blais , Andy Caldecott , Alain Duclos