Dakar: Nissan rest day Siwa report

Siwa at last. After covering a distance of 5338 km, including 4378 in Africa, the Dakar has paused, for the traditional rest day, held this year in Siwa. Yesterday's incident, when a landmine (dating from the Second World War) exploded under a...

Siwa at last.

After covering a distance of 5338 km, including 4378 in Africa, the Dakar has paused, for the traditional rest day, held this year in Siwa. Yesterday's incident, when a landmine (dating from the Second World War) exploded under a truck, considerably slowed down the progress of the caravan. Shortly after the explosion, the organisation decided to stop the race to avoid any other incidents, carefully checking the state of the track. Therefore, over 60 vehicles remained blocked all night at the border, carrying on towards Siwa this morning at sunrise. Although the race cars had no problems reaching the bivouac, the assistance vehicles for Nissan and many other teams were missing yesterday evening. The three assistance trucks, the two race trucks and two Nissan Rally Raid Team Patrol cars only arrived this morning, having spent the night under the stars...

Nissan bivouac.
Photo by Nissan Europe.

Today was spent carrying out a complete check-up on the Pickups, before the final straight and the finish. The cars were reconditioned and cleaned like real jewels. The drivers and co-drivers took advantage of the pause to rest and prepare for tomorrow's stage, which will be a short stage to get back into the rhythm : a loop to the south of the Siwa oasis, crossing some of the highest sand-dunes of Egypt. For once, the assistance vehicles will be able to enjoy the show, as one point half-way through the stage is accessible, right in the middle of the dunes. The finish line of the special is close to this point, so that all the supporters who have travelled specially to Siwa for the rest day will be able to fully enjoy this 12th stage.

At the Siwa bivouac, the Nissan Rally Raid Team was honoured to receive a visit from Mr Watanabe, a member of the Nismo board of Directors. This trip was a first for Mr Watanabe : " This is the first time that I have been to a rally raid, and that I have been so close to the desert. What really surprised me, incidentally, was the temperature ... I thought that it was always hot here, but I was astonished by the cool morning air ! As far as the team is concerned, I was able to get an idea of our level, here in the field. We already have a high technological level, and the South African team has worked well. The final objective is not far away. But we need to gain more experience. When I see Team Mitsubishi, who are extremely experienced on the Dakar, it is evident that we have a lot of work to do. We are not far away, but we must learn and gain all the necessary maturity. This maturity can only be gained by taking part in other races, which will allow us to be more competitive in the future, and more specifically for the next Dakar." Mr Watanabe will meet up again with the team in a few days time, at Sharm el Sheikh, when he will be accompanied by Mr Sasaki, President of Nismo.

This is also an opportunity to give a further update on the condition of Kenjiro Shinozuka, from Ian Cracknell, the Nissan Rally Raid Team doctor, who accompanied the Japanese driver during his evacuation from Sabha to the hospital in Tunis : "During the accident, Kenjiro hit the steering wheel of his Pickup. Due to his driving position, very close to the wheel, the fact that he wears an open helmet, and the force of the impact, he suffered facial injuries. Due to the shock, his blood pressure was very low. He was taken by helicopter to Sabha, and to prepare him for the air transport, he was given tranquillisers, which were behind his unconsciousness. A 'controlled' state of unconsciousness. Artificial respiration is necessary during the use of these products, but was not the result of the accident. Facial fractures were suspected, and in order to carry out a full examination, it was decided to take him to the hospital in Tunis. His condition was stable in the medical plane, and at no point did he lapse into a coma, he was only under sedation. As soon as he arrived in Tunis, he was examined. No cranial fractures, no problems with his vertebras, no broken limbs. The only injuries were cuts to the face, including one deep cut, and a fracture of the sinus bone. He underwent surgery during the night. He woke up unaided, and even spoke that night. He is suffering from post-traumatic amnesia. Certainly brought on by the shock and the sedatives. He cannot remember the accident, or the circumstances. He has asked a number of times how Thierry is. In the coming weeks, he will certainly regain much of his memory of the moments preceding the accident. The accident will not have any consequences." Kenjiro Shinozuka returned to Paris today.

In tomorrow's release, as well as the race report, you will be able to read about one of the nicest teams taking part in the event : the N°428 Nissan Rally Raid Team T4 truck, in the hands of Hannes Grobler, the South African Off Road Champion (with a Nissan Pickup), Terry Harryman, co-pilote and living rally legend, and finally Aaron Rabogale, a South African mechanic with a taste for adventure. Three Dakar rookies who have plenty of tales to tell...

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Series DAKAR