In the bike class the transition stage between Zilla and Sarir saw a third upset in three days with Meoni losing 40 minutes to his rivals due to engine problems.
Sala encountered similar difficulties to Meoni and finished in 35th place. The special was won by Lundmark, with Despres 2nd (at 3'47) and Sainct 3rd at 4'34. Overall Sainct enjoys a slim margin of 11'03 over Despres, with Meoni slipping down to third at 37'34. In the cars it was Masuoka who won, ahead of Peterhansel (at 2'46) with Fontenay 3rd at 10'12. Servia was 7th at 15'16. Overall Peterhansel leads Masuoka by 14'06 with De Mevius 3rd at 1h29'07. Servia maintains his 10th overall position (at 3h14'26) but closes the gap on 9th placed man Henrard. In the trucks The special went to De Azedevo with Tchaguine 2nd at 2'30 and Kabriov 3rd at 3'10. De Rooy Senior was 4th at 6'02 with Junior 5th at 22'10. Despite their problems De Rooy Junior still leads Tchaguine overall by 1'52 with De Azevedo 3rd at 39'01.
Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) 2nd at 3'47
"I perhaps made a little mistake today by deciding to ride my own race and not look for Richard or Fabrizio's tracks. It was however interesting to ride on my own in the middle of nowhere with no other riders or helicopters for company. It gave me a little frisson. When Meoni started his bike to leave the refuelling CP I could hear that it was only running on one cylinder and it didn't take too long to catch him. It is true that a lot of potential rivals have fallen by the wayside in the last three days. It seems that at around this time in the race that always happens -- it has certainly been the case the last two years."
Richard Sainct (Gauloises KTM) 3rd at 4'34
"After I saw the problems Meoni was having I took it a bit easier -- my priority certainly wasn't to win the special. It is bad luck for Fabrizio 'cos without his problems he could have really done something today. Now my biggest danger comes from myself. Cyril is just over 11 minutes behind me and while it isn't a huge margin, if everything goes according to plan I should be able to control the gap. But if I have a problem with the bike or I fall then suddenly 11 minutes is nothing. The race is far from over."
Fabrizio Meoni (Gauloises KTM) 21st at 40'58
"This was the stage I had been waiting for. After 100 km I had already taken 2 minutes off Richard and if I the engine hadn't starting running on one cylinder I could easily have finished 15 minutes ahead - not through riding skill but just because of the extra power of my engine. As it was, at about km 140 the engine started playing up. On the hard packed ground I could only go at 100 kph while in the dunes my speed dropped to 30 / 40 kph. To be honest I didn't think I would make it all the way to the bivouac. Now I'm just under 40 minutes down and I don't see another special on the rest of the rallye where I can make that time up. Of course the rallye is never over until we cross the final finish line -- anything can happen -- but right at this moment I'm struggling to feel positive."
Miran Stanovnik (KTM) 12th at 30'16
"The last 40 km the wind was really blowing -- it was like having your face sandblasted! After CP1 it was really boring. The trouble is you never know how fast you should ride. You don't want to blow the engine or melt your mousse but you don't want to lose too much time on your rivals either."
Eric Verhoef (KTM) 13th at 36'14
"Not my kind of day. You just have to keep going and hope the engine doesn't blow up. The stage demanded little navigation and hardly any riding skills and if it was like this everyday I wouldn't bother coming. In fairness the organisers said at yesterday's briefing that it was a transition stage and there aren't many other quicker ways to cover the ground."
Servia (Gauloises Schlesser Ford) 7th at 15'16
"It was a very fast special with hardly any navigation but a lot of wind. Everything went fine and we had no problems until we came into the bivouac and got stuck in the sand!"
Tom Colsoul (Co-driver for 414 -- Gauloises DAF) 5th at 22'10
"Today we had our first big problem. At around km 100 we hit some ruts too hard and bent a steering rod. If Jan hadn't stopped to help us he would have finished. We made a sign for him not to stop but I think he is more worried about us than we are. I have had a look at tomorrow's stage and I can see there are some dunes. That is where we go best so providing we have no problems we should increase our lead on the next stage."