For all those competitors who emerged from the infernal conditions of the Tidjikja-Nema special stage, today was a transition day. After a long, 927 km, liaison sector, Giniel de Villiers and Yoshio Ikemachi both reached Bamako, capital city of ...
For all those competitors who emerged from the infernal conditions of the Tidjikja-Nema special stage, today was a transition day. After a long, 927 km, liaison sector, Giniel de Villiers and Yoshio Ikemachi both reached Bamako, capital city of Mali, this evening, having gone through some memorable moments. As for Colin McRae and Ari Vatanen, they spent the night under the stars, among the dunes. Considering the difficulties posed by this stage, and the low number of competitors who had managed to reach Nema by this morning, the organisers decided that : "All the competitors who arrive in Nema after 7:30 this morning will receive a fixed penalty of 21 hours. Now, their only obligation, if they wish to continue racing in the rally, is to arrive in Bobo Dioulasso before 18:00, on Monday January 12th, the rest day. "
The two Pickup vehicles driven by Colin McRae and Ari Vatanen, still prisoners of the dunes, are currently being repaired so that they will be able, as it is now allowed, to travel directly to Bobo Dioulasso.
With Ari falling victim to a clutch problem, and gearbox worries for Colin, the two team-mates had to spend a night under the stars. Difficult moments, but they remain firmly intent on continuing the adventure. Colin McRae firmly declared that he wanted to continue, and that there was no question of retiring. The Scottish driver clearly stated that he wanted to reach the Rose Lake. Before leaving Tidjika and after spending a good part of the night working on his Pickup, Colin had said that between winning the Monte-Carlo Rally, quite possibly the most prestigious of the World Rally Championship events, and the Dakar, he would choose the Dakar without hesitation. He also added, just before the start of that 700 km special stage, that from a distance point of view, the day's stage was like doing the Cyprus Rally and the Acropolis Rally in just one day.
McRae has surprised plenty of people on this Dakar, and everyone is aware of his speed and talent. It looks as if he has caught the rally-raid virus, and that this Dakar will only be the start …
Vatanen, the « old desert fox », has not lost sight of the main objective, to reach the capital city of Senegal. And even if all hopes of victory in the overall classification have evaporated, the determination and talent of the Finnish driver can be counted on to set some fine times before the end of the event.
Giniel de Villiers reached Nema yesterday evening, having gone through some intense moments … "The stage was very long, especially in terms of driving time. You have to keep your concentration from the beginning to the end, so as not to fall into one of the traps posed by this sector. As well as the problems of the terrain, we had some worries with our wheel bolts, which kept on loosening, meaning that we had to stop frequently. We also spent some time ‘gardening', because some passes were not easy to find. But this evening, I am very pleased to have driven the Pickup as far as Bamako. I am thinking of my team-mates who are still out on the trail, but I know I will see them again in Bobo…"
Yoshio Ikemachi finished yesterday's special stage in 18th position. A fine run, considering they made a number of stops to try and help Ari Vatanen and Colin McRae. The Japanese driver remains calm and clear, and is driving his Nissan Patrol with wisdom and consistency. Thierry Delli Zotti, the ‘Professor' is alongside him to set the rhythm, and to direct the ‘rookie' through to the finish.
Tomorrow, Giniel and Yoshio will take to the road again, for another 500 km liaison sector, to Bobo Dioulasso, where the traditional rest day will take place.