Dakar: Nissan Dessoude stage four report

Today's stage... The 405-km special stage between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate, the endpoint of the 4th leg, was no picnic. Over this ruthless route, the Dak ar competitors were faced with a wide variety of terrain. Sand, rocks and dunes...

Today's stage...

The 405-km special stage between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate, the endpoint of the 4th leg, was no picnic. Over this ruthless route, the Dak ar competitors were faced with a wide variety of terrain. Sand, rocks and dunes alternated on the programme, providing plenty of potential hazards, with which the crews had to contend.

Over this timed stage, Christian Lavieille encountered mechanic al problems (broken rear transmission and front universal joint) and saw his fine 12th place evaporate. Both Dessoude Proto vehicles got beached in the sand, but good team-work helped them get out of this bad position.

There were no changes in the lead of the T2 category. Jean Pierre Strugo maintained his second position with his Nissan Pathfinder. Paul Belmondo, with a broken universal joint, was helped by Christian Lavieille, who had also broken down on the route. Carole Montillet and Mélanie Suchet continued on their way, as did Madalena Antas.

An update from André Dessoude...

"I am really sorry for what happened to Christian Lavieille today. Unfortunately, the incidents multiplied for him. Around the 240 km mark, he broke his rear transmission and was forced to wait for the T4 rapid assistance truck. The repairs happened in record time, and the Pickup got going again.

In the next sector, in the camel grass, first the joint cover and then the front universal joint broke. He had to wait for the truck again. The crew finally got going, but had to face the dunes in the dark. We expect them to finish quite late, as they have not yet reached the biv ouac. After the end of the timed sector, there are still 178 km to cover in liaison... As for the two Proto cars, they stayed close in adverse conditions.... Miguel Barbosa, and Yvan Muller showed real team spirit. Held prisoner in a deep depression in the dunes, Miguel Barbosa was only able to get out thanks to the efforts of his team-mate Yvan Muller, who took more than 40 minutes to get him out.

In the T2 category, Jean-Pierre Strugo continues to make progress and to mark his rivals. Experienced and knowledgeable about his subject, I think that Jean-Pierre knows exactly what he is doing.

I am happy to see that once more the word 'team' really means something, considering the misadventure which befell Paul Belmondo. Paul broke the front left universal joint and stopped, by coincidence, just 100 metres from Christian Lavieille who was waiting for the truck. Christian and François helped Paul and Guy to undertake the repairs. The 'girls' are going well, and seem to be enjoying themselves.. Madalena is going better day by day.

What the drivers said ...

Paul Belmondo -- Nissan Pathfinder T2

"As soon as we reached the first dunes, we broke a universal joint, and we landed right next to Christian Lavieille. It was only thanks to the technical assistance of Christian and François that we were able to get going again, as neither Guy nor myself are gods when it comes to mechanics. The repair only took 45 minutes -- we would have taken a lot longer... Many thanks to the nr 317! The Dakar is also a team event..."

Jean-Pierre Strugo -- Nissan Pathfinder T2

"Everything went very well today and... I drove with the windows closed and I must admit it is a bit more comfortable! We had a few scares in the dunes, as we had G1 tyres on. Finally, with the right pressure, we went through with no further problems. In the classification of today's stage, we arrived within a minute of Ratet and Chabot. So no changes to the overall positions.."

Miguel Barbosa -- Proto Dessoude

"The special stage was very rough, and our suspension set-up was not necessarily the best for this sort of terrain. Towards the end, when we fell into that depression in the middle of the dunes, we thought that we were going to stay there a long, long time. But Yvan and René arrived and helped us out. It was really great of them to help us and sacrifice so much time."

-credit: nissan dessoude

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Yvan Muller , Paul Belmondo , Christian Lavieille , Jean-Pierre Strugo , Miguel Barbosa , Carole Montillet , Mélanie Suchet , Madalena Antas , André Dessoude