Dakar: KTM stage 15 report

The Italian old hand presents his skills Last week some tire problems had irredeemably thrown him back. On Monday, the rest day at Bobo Dioulasso, Fabrizio Meoni confidently assured, "I'm waiting for the Mauritanian stage." Meoni knew, on that...

The Italian old hand presents his skills

Last week some tire problems had irredeemably thrown him back. On Monday, the rest day at Bobo Dioulasso, Fabrizio Meoni confidently assured, "I'm waiting for the Mauritanian stage." Meoni knew, on that day he would be able to present his skills. A farewell performance? After all Meoni said, too: "Maybe this is my last Dakar rally. I'm 47-years-old and I think it is normal that I'm thinking about quitting. One has to accept his limits. I'll probably never race more cautious in the future either. But I don't want to take such a risk. One has to be modest enough to recognize his age. I'm not immortal."

Today Fabrizio Meoni was able to show just how great he can perform. And he was content with himself. Arriving at the bivouac in Nauakchott the pleasant Italian exclaimed, "Today was the first day that everything went the way I wanted. I didn't make any mistake and my motorcycle was running very well. It was a great race. Maybe I have a chance to win again tomorrow."

Richard Sainct managed to gain some time, but it looks like Nani Roma isn't about to give up his leadership. The Spaniard arrived in 3rd position. After arrival at the bivouac he kept to himself looking for rest. Jordi Arcarons, his team manager, knew exactly why, "The race is not over yet. Just imagine some little repairs need to be made then the 7 minutes lead on Richard will quickly melt away. Isidre is riding too far in the back; he can't help Nani quickly enough. Tomorrow Nani needs to ride very careful, very relaxed. Tomorrow's stage is the last one that counts. Hopefully, he'll safely get to Dakar."

At this time of the race everyone within the large KTM-team is content with the long Spaniard winning the rally. Fabrizio Meoni states, "Nani has tried it so many times now. He really deserves it. And with the time gap he has got he can surely reach Dakar in the top position. That is his opportunity now." Gilles Salvador, manager of the team Gauloises KTM France, judges just as fair. "I want it for Nani and Spain. It is a race and there is only one winner. Next year it is maybe Richard again or maybe Cyril to lead the pack. The KTM teams and the individual riders are fighting passionately in the race. But when they reach the finish they all get along great!"

The fight for the 3rd position is still loaded with suspense: Cyril Despres against Alfie Cox -- youthful ambitions against long lasting experience. Only 43 seconds separate the two. "43 seconds," states Alfie, "that really isn't all that much. Tomorrow I will start ahead of Cyril. So I really need to pace forward and push for power." Lee Palmer, his mechanic, is working to prepare his KTM 660 Rally really well. "I'm going to prepare the bike so that Alfie will be able to fly!" And hopefully he will safely land in Dakar.

Team Gauloises KTM France was able to defend its leading position in the team standings (98 points). It still leads ahead of Team Repsol KTM Spain (118). Team Gauloises KTM International (166) claims the 3rd position and Team Red Bull KTM USA (440) is in 4th position.

After all these strenuous stages, the 16th stage from Nouakchott to Dakar is a route for pleasure. Time is taken on 191 km out of the 647 km of the stage. The track isn't all that bad either. The route to Dakar could become a show run. The A.S.O. is expecting thousands of Senegalese people along the track cheering for the "survivors" of the 26th edition of the Dakar rally.

-ktm-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Richard Sainct , Nani Roma , Jordi Arcarons