Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage seven report

The bikes started in reverse order this morning to allow the privateers as much daylight as possible -- though it didn't stop the factory riders from finishing well before everybody else. First on the special was the Chilean Carlos De Gavardo...

The bikes started in reverse order this morning to allow the privateers as much daylight as possible -- though it didn't stop the factory riders from finishing well before everybody else. First on the special was the Chilean Carlos De Gavardo ahead of Marc Coma and Giovanni Sala. Isidre Esteve (Gauloises KTM) rode a tactical race to finish fourth, with his injured team mate Cyril Despres 9th (at 30'23). David Casteu (Gauloises KTM) was 11th (at 32'34) with Michel Gau (Gauloises KTM) 23rd (at 47'22). Overall Coma maintains his lead with De Gavardo second (at 4'30), Esteve third (at 7'27) and Despres fourth (at 32'39).

Isidre Esteve (Gauloises KTM) 4th (at 4'29) 3rd overall (at 7'27)
"I'm very happy with my position as I wanted to start behind Marc tomorrow morning. That way I can try and win the special. Then the day after the rest day we start in reverse order again which means I will start at the back. Well anyway that is the idea -- lets hope it works! As far as the day was concerned there is no question it was a tough one. A lot of people crashed and hurt either themselves or their bikes or both. Happily I did neither!"

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) 9th (at 30'23) 4th overall (at 32'39)
"It was our first day of camel grass -- my colleagues jumped but I didn't. To be honest I thought I would lose 1 hour today, so I am pretty pleased to give away 'only' half an hour. That is in large part thanks to the rallye medical service who did a fantastic job strapping me up. All in all my morale is pretty good and my body a little less good. I will forget about my ranking for a while and just ride for my team and we will see how I get on."

David Casteu (Gauloises KTM) 11th (at 32'34) 10th overall (at 1.29'18)
"We started riding quickly in Portugal. The pace picked even more in Morocco and now we are flying in Mauritania. I had a big crash just after the second refuelling and went straight over the bars. The bike was quite badly damaged, particularly the instruments, but I managed to strap in all down and continue. My mechanic Mark is going to have a lot of work to do tonight and won't be very happy with me!"

Michel Gau (Gauloises KTM) 23rd (at 47'22) 13th (at 2.14'36)
"I got a little lost at the start of the special and didn't know if Cyril was in front of me or behind. Then Coma went past so I knew Cyril must be still behind. Once I hooked up with him I made sure I stayed with him the whole time to give him as much support as possible."

"In the cars it was Peterhansel who won the special 4'23 ahead of his team mate Alphand with Kleinschmidt third (at 11'49). The two wheel drive buggies of Jean Louis Schlesser and Thierry Magnaldi struggled in the soft sand with Jean Louis losing 1.14'24 and Thierry 1.41'59. Overall Alphand now leads 3'12 ahead of Peterhansel with Kleinschmidt third. Schlesser is now 7th (at 1.09'01) with Magnaldi 8th (at 1.43'44). At 18.37 with night falling only 16 cars have crossed the finishing line."

Francois Borsotto (co-driver of Jean Louis Schlesser)
"We went off on the wrong cap at the beginning and lost about 15 minutes. Then at kilometres we hooked up with Thierry (Magnaldi) and drove the rest of the special together. And it was a good job we did as individually I think we would have really struggled. As it was it was no picnic and we must have stuck at least 4 or 5 times. Hopefully it will be a little easier for us tomorrow."

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Cyril Despres , Giovanni Sala , François Borsotto , Marc Coma , David Casteu , Michel Gau , Thierry Magnaldi , Jean Louis Schlesser