In the bikes there was more drama today with favourite Nani Roma crashing out at high speed early in the stage. The special finally went to Richard Sainct with Meoni second at 1'44, De Azevedo 3rd at 5'04, Despres 4th at 7'33 and Brucy 5th at 11'35.
Overall Richard takes the lead 1'10 up on Meoni with Despres 3rd at 11'50 to make it an all blue vitual podium. With Sala melting his mousse on the special it is now Team Gauloises' water carrier Jean Brucy who take 4th, more than 46 minutes behind the leader.
In the cars Ari Vatanen won his first special since 1996 and beat Fontenay by just 00'07 in the process. Peterhansel was third at 01'00, with De Mevius fourth at 3'38 and Servia 5th at 6'49. Overall Peterhansel leads 16'52 on Masuoka (5 punctures today!) with De Mevius 3rd at 1h09'50. Servia is still 10th overall 20 minutes behind Henrard.
In the trucks victory once again went to De Rooy Junior 6'00 up on Kabirov and 14'09 on De Azevedo. De Rooy Senior was 5th at 37'32. Overall De Rooy No 414 increases his lead to 21'32 over Tchaguine with De Azevedo 3rd at 1h01'11. De Rooy Senior is 4th more than two and half hours behind his son.
Richard Sainct (Gauloises KTM) 1st in 6h01'23
"The first part was very rapid -- just made for the V-twin. Nani knew that the second part was much more technical and that he needed to use all his bike's power early on. Unfortuantely for him he was stuck in the dust behind another rider and chose the one moment where the piste turned to overtake 'blind'. He hit some rocks at the side of the piste and must have flown 50 metres. When I arrived Fabrizio must have been there for about 6 minutes. We could see that Nani was in no immeadiate danger so when Coma arrived shortly after me myself and Fabrizio continued. Later, before CP2 I fell in the off-piste and twisted the fork. When I arrived at the 15 minute neutralisation Jean (Brucy) was already there and helped me straighten the bike out. After that it was very technical and we rode hard to catch Cyril at the end."
Fabrizio Meoni (Gauloises KTM) 2nd at 1'44
"Nani crashed 30 seconds ahead of me at about km 160. When I first arrived I thought the worst -- we were riding very fast... After that it was difficult to concentrate on the race. Then at the end we did 250 km of trial and with the concentration I managed to put the crash out of my head for a while. Overall it wasn't a great day but I would like to take my hat off to Cyril and Richard. They could have both taken advantage of the situation and the 6 minutes I lost waiting with Nani. Instead they were gentlemen and I appreciate their gesture."
Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) 4th at 11'35
"After catching Jean I rode virtually the whole day on my own and didn't know anything about Nani's accident until I saw the others at the refuelling. On leaving the CP the GPS went on the blink for 5 minutes or so but after that I had a brilliant time in the technical going. At one time it was national level trials riding and I only put one foot down! Nani is a good friend of mine and I am very sorry he has been forced to retire. However if you'd have told me 4 weeks ago, just after I'd broken my collarbone, that I'd be on the virtual podium I'd have said you were completely crazy."
Miran Stanovnik (KTM) 13th at 34'31
"At the beginning I thought 'here we go -- another boring flat out special'. Then after 200 km it became really technical enduro like going and I like that kind of stage."
Eric Verhoef (KTM) 19th at 59'36
"The fast parts don't suit me so I just took the early part slowly -- especially after seeing Roma's accident. Then we got into the technical part of the special and I started to have some fun. I still didn't take any risks. I want to get to Sharm El Shiek and if I move up a few places between here and then it will be by riding steadily."
Jose-Maria Servia (Gauloises Schlesser Ford) 5th at 6'49.
"Everything went fine today. We had just one puncture at km 78 and after that drove steadily without taking any risks. The first 130 km were rapid piste, then 150 km of very fast off-piste and then rock and fesh-fesh to the end. The car was good over the whole special. We're still 10th overall but if we carry as we did today we'll be able to move up a few places by the time we get to Sharm El Sheik."
Rene Metge (Gauloises Mercedes) 31st at 1h43.32
"A lot of fesh-fesh today. You couldn't see much and it wasn't a lot of fun. The good news however is that we have found a good suspension set up. Until now the front has been too soft and not enough rebound damping at the back. A good set up makes all the difference. Apart from that I think Elodie found it tough today. She couldn't see anything and I kept asking her questions and a couple of times she snapped at me."
Elodie Metge (Gauloises Mercedes)
"I wasn't good company today. The special wasn't fun and nor was I and I took it out on my father. It isn't very fair of me -- especially when I see how much harder it is for him driving."
Tom Colsoul (co-driver for De Rooy Junior)
"Tchaguine started first today on a special that should have been to his advantage. At between 60 and 70 km we passed him as he was changing a wheel and then didn't see him again until km 400. Just after that we stopped 'cos we smelt oil -- probably a shock absorber -- and suddenly he was behind us anymore. I can only think that he must have hit something while following our dust. The first part of the special was really fast. We got to km 300 in two and half hours. The rest of the special took us four and half hours -- which gives you an idea of how slow and tricky it was. Gerardus took the last part very gently -- it was almost boring -- but if he hadn't we could have lost a lot of time either getting lost or with a mechanical problem. In the end we only broke 3 shock absorbers -- Ohlins must love us -- and the front right brake. I'm very happy with how the day turned out."
De Rooy Senior (Gauloises De Rooy) 5th at 37.32
"Not a 'friendly' stage - either for the truck or the driver. In all we had two punctures, two broken shock absorbers and some other mechanical problems. The worst stage so far."