Drawing a deep breath after the short special Whoever stood close enough to Alfie Cox in the finish was able to feel how much this was a load off his mind. Everything went well for the South-African today. Not only because he came in second but...
Drawing a deep breath after the short special
Whoever stood close enough to Alfie Cox in the finish was able to feel how much this was a load off his mind. Everything went well for the South-African today. Not only because he came in second but above all because his injured right shoulder didn't cause any problems. "I am so happy and relieved that all goes on for me" said Alfie after finishing the special. "Just before the start I was pretty nervous after all. I didn't know whether I could step on the gas without constantly feeling the pain. But the shoulder didn't bother me. I am truly more than relieved." Only Yamaha-pilot David Fretigne was faster than Alfie Cox on his KTM 660 Rally today. Cyril Despres ranked just behind them on 3rd place. Thus, the Frenchman was able to defend his second place in the overall standing.
All in all, did all KTM- factory pilots manage the 10 km of the special pretty well, which were not completely new to the rally pilots. A ranking on the military base nearby Granada had already taken place in 1999. Certainly under quite different conditions. "Then we rode in deep mud", said Jean Brucy. "Today there was a lot of dust we had to cope with. But I feel more comfortable with that."
Scott Harden, the "old-timer" within the team KTM Red Bull USA, was satisfied as well. Not only is he going on his second Dakar but he is also team manager for the two youngsters Chris Blais and Kellon Walch. "It was important to me that my boys would not be within the top today. They like to step on the gas but that wouldn't have been good tactics today. For the first stage in Africa tomorrow, it is better if Chris and Kellon drive in the tracks of the others. They still have to learn a lot." Kellon, by the way, has his 22nd birthday today. Happy Birthday!
With sunshine and high temperature did Europe say good-bye to the rally followers. From tonight on the hearts of the rally pilots will swell on. Because whoever wants to get involved into the adventure of the Dakar, dreams of stages in Africa, of dunes, ergs, stony tracks and camel grass. With a ferry they get from the Spanish city of Granada to the Moroccan city of Tangier. The divers and their bikes will still have to go on 557 km from there. The bivouac is set up on the outskirts of the Moroccan capitol Rabat, which is stage base of the Dakar for the fourth time.
Encompassing 123 km, the fourth stage tomorrow is not very long but is asking for the driver's navigation skills. Stage destination is Agadir in the south of Morocco.
12:40 p.m. With a very short test does the Dakar take its farewell of Europe. The special on a military base nearby Granada had a length of only 10 km but was really demanding and did not only offer a lot of fun to the spectators. The pilots were also able to indulge their vice, meaning to really speed up their bikes. It was an exceptionally fast race which the Frenchman David Fretigne managed to win again. He finished the 10 km on his Yamaha in 7'57 minutes. Only 2 seconds later did Alfie Cox, team KTM Gauloises, cross the finish line. This is a good sign which shows that Alfie's injured shoulder obviously doesn't bother him that much. Cyril Despres, team KTM Gauloises, made it on the third place only 3 seconds behind Fretigne.
A quite exciting moment is ahead of the drivers: They are going to reach Africa.
Exciting, because most of the drivers see the European stages as a kind of a warm-up.
Not before Africa, the Dakar really seems to start. The first section on the black continent is also truly something to get used to. Going out of the harbor of Tangier, a highway runs to Rabat, the Moroccan capitol where the followers of the rally will set up their bivouac.
The drivers still have a total of 557 km ahead of them.