Seventh place overall for Carlos Sousa
Team Nissan France Dessoude placed the 2003 Pickup in seventh place in the overall classification. A fine performance for the Portuguese driver, who will nevertheless have some regrets. As for Benoît Rousselot, mission accomplished : the rally driver has arrived in Dakar...
The very last kilometres for the competitors in this 27th edition of the Dakar took place, as usual, on the shores of the Rose Lake, in front of hundreds of guests, delighted to be able to watch this final moments. Carlos Sousa set the 6th time during the stage, and finished in 7th place overall. The Portuguese driver did not appear unhappy with his performance. "I am very satisfied with this result. We lost seven hours due to a small problem, which prevented us from claiming a Top Five finish. Everything went well with Andre's team. The team is very friendly, and everyone gives their all. I will mainly remember the stage that I finished with a broken water pump. The mechanics worked like crazy all through the night. The car was ready at 7:30 in the morning, and I took the start an hour later. They really did well. We are the leading private team, which really pleases me."
In the T1 category, Benoît Rousselot fulfilled his `contract'. His mission was to reach Dakar, which he has done : " What a race ! We had our fair share of problems, like everyone, but we've made it to the end. I will never look at the Dakar in the same way again. You have to be incredibly strong, both mentally and physically, to get to the end of this race. It is truly enormous. We fulfilled our main objective, to finish the Dakar. Now I will concentrate on my second mission, the T1 category of the World Cup. The nine thousand kilometres of the Dakar will be incredibly useful to me in the future. I think I have matured. I made mistakes, but I will not make them again. As far as apprenticeships go, you cannot do better than the Dakar."
Andre Dessoude, the Team Manager, had the final word : "It was a difficult and fast rally, for the assistance teams as well, as they had plenty of kilometres to cover. The positive side is that the car is very reliable, and that it proved that it could sometimes rival the factory cars. Carlos Sousa did an excellent race. The black side was the accidents that befell Shinozuka and de Mevius, who were not able to show what they could do throughout the th race. It's a shame, as I think that Gregoire could have had a good result. I am convinced we could have finished 4 and 5th in this rally Jun Mitsuhashi, a driver from the Nismo programme, put in a fine performance in some special stages, but also made small mistakes in others. The car went well, the co-driver was excellent. As for Jun, he is talented, but has to learn to focus his fire and spirit. As far as the Chinese drivers, with the Paladin, that was a total success. Everything we set up worked. The Chinese managers placed their entire trust in me, and I do not think they have any regrets. To achieve such a result with a car that was not designed for this purpose, and with inexperienced Chinese drivers, is excellent. I am very pleased with Benoît. He listened, he became part of the team. He is a very good student, and I think he will learn quickly. The future is his. Just one word : Bravo ! "
The next event for Team Nissan France Dessoude is the Rally of Tunisia, in just over two months...