Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage 2 report

The first special after the prologue turned out to be a muddy 25 km affair just outside Narbonne in the South of France. In the bikes logic prevailed, with victory going to the reigning French enduro champion David Fretigne on his 2-wheel ...

The first special after the prologue turned out to be a muddy 25 km affair just outside Narbonne in the South of France. In the bikes logic prevailed, with victory going to the reigning French enduro champion David Fretigne on his 2-wheel drive Yamaha 450 enduro bike.

Despite the soggy conditions Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) managed to get his big 700cc rallye bike around just 15 seconds slower, with Nani Roma in third, only 1 second ahead of Richard Sainct (Gauloises KTM). In the cars however, where normally a four-wheel drive vehicle would be expected to triumph, Jose Maria Servia (Gauloises Ford Buggy) created the surprise to win by a narrow 3 second margin over Peterhansel. Third was Belgium rally specialist De Mevius in the big diesel BMW. The 48th car through the special, that of Claude Arnoux, became 'terminally' stuck in the mud forcing the organisers to halt the proceedings. The remaining competitors will now receive the average time of the last 5 cars to go through. For the trucks the special was cancelled in its entirety.

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM France) 2nd (at 0m15)
"I was amazed by the number of spectators out on the circuit -- it was like the pictures you see of crowds parting in front of the cars on WRC. I rode hard but I'm not surprised that Fretos (Fretigne) beat me. There was more grip than I expected but his bike is much lighter and therefore much easier to muscle around such a tight course. At least it shows that another manufacturer can come to the Dakar and beat the KTMs - in Europe anyway!

Richard Sainct (Gauloises KTM France) 4th (at 0m58)
"I rode reasonably hard but didn't take any risks -- there was much more to be lost here today than to be won. The course was pretty muddy, with lots of ruts, but there was a surprising amount of grip and I enjoyed myself on the way round."

Giovanni Sala (Gauloises KTM International) 5th (at 1m01)
"That was my kind of special -- an enduro special -- and it was much easier to ride on the single than on the big V-twin I was riding last year."

Alfie Cox (Gauloises KTM International) 9th (at 1m57)
"That was a good special -- it was almost worth sitting around for three days to ride it!"

Fabrizio Meoni (Gauloises KTM International) 11th (at 2m04)
"That wasn't great for me. It is 50 % my fault because I am not an enduro rider and don't like the mud and 50% the bike's fault because it doesn't like the mud much either!"

Eric Verhoef (Gauloises KTM Privateer) 19th (at 3m09)
"That was a good warm up. De Gavardo caught me up and forced me to pick the pace up a little - which was probably a good thing!"

Miran Stanovnik (Gauloises KTM Privateer) 31st (at 4m02)
"The stage was really good -- much better than when we were here two years ago -- but unfortunately I had a low front mudguard on and it got jammed up with mud which meant that I lost a little time. "

Ivo Kastan (Gauloises Suzuki Privateer) 91st (at 7m47)
"This is the first time I have ever ridden this bike in the mud so it was a little bit tricky, but apart from that everything went fine."

Mame Less Diallo (Gauloises KTM Privateer) 168th (at 15m33)
"Yesterday was the first time I had ever ridden in the snow -- today was the first time I have ridden in the mud. I'm looking forward to getting a little closer to home!"

Jose Maria Servia (Gauloises Ford Buggy) 1st (in 25m00)
"The other drivers were very 'fairplay' and all moved out the way for us. That and the fact that there was no dust meant that we were able to overtake a lot of cars. Although it doesn't seem logic for a 2-wheel drive to win here, the car went really well and we went around with absolutely no problems."

Jean Louis Schlesser (Gauloises Ford Buggy) 10th (at 1m42)
"A Nissan got stuck in front us. We stopped, he started to reverse and we had no choice but to do the same. In all we lost at least 30 seconds. Apart from that we had no particular problems. I'm really pleased with Jose's result. It just shows how well our cars are running -- and they should go even better in Africa!"

Jean-Pierre Strugo (Gauloises Mercedes) 33rd (at 4m51)
"That was a bit too exciting. We got stuck in a huge mud hole and I thought we were going to have to get out and push. Fortunately we put it into reverse, found a tiny bit of grip and managed to get out backwards."

-gauloises racing-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers José Maria Servia , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Richard Sainct , Giovanni Sala , Miran Stanovnik , Eric Verhoef , Nani Roma , Jean-Pierre Strugo , David Fretigne , Ivo Kastan , Mame Less Diallo , Jean Louis Schlesser