Dakar: Nissan stage 9 report

A stage in torment... The 26th edition of the Dakar will undoubtedly remain engraved in the memories. Three difficult days have followed one after the other, setting an infernal rhythm, leaving many competitors on the sidelines, a long way ...

A stage in torment...

The 26th edition of the Dakar will undoubtedly remain engraved in the memories. Three difficult days have followed one after the other, setting an infernal rhythm, leaving many competitors on the sidelines, a long way from the Rose Lake. At the start this morning, only 75 cars remained in the race, out of the 146 that took the start. As for the motorbikes, the situation is even worse, as the number of retirements is now over 50%.

Moreover, tomorrow's stage between Nema and Mopti will be neutralised, as will the next stage, for security reasons. It appears that the Mopti region is occupied by uncontrolled rebel groups, and to avoid any potential problems, and after consultations with the authorities in France and Mali, it has been decided that the itinerary should be changed. The rally will stop tomorrow at Bamako, using a liaison sector, then will continue Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso on Sunday. Two days without any special stages, falling quite propitiously before the rest day. Both men and machines are exhausted, and the teams still in the race will not fail to make the most of this 'provisional' change of rhythm.

For the Nissan Rally Raid Team, the stage between Tidjikja and Nema was ruthless. Reaching CP1 in the lead, the Pickup vehicles then developed problems.

Ari Vatanen fell victim to clutch problems, which slowed and then stopped his progress. Colin McRae has gear-box problems. He will also have to wait patiently, like Vatanen, for the T4 assistance truck, still in the race, to arrive, and will then be towed over interminable kilometres in the hopes of reaching the finish line. This strange convoy should reach the bivouac in the night.

As for Giniel de Villiers, he has passed CP2, but has not yet reached Néma. It has to be said that at 21:30, only 7 cars had reached the finish line... an absolute massacre. The night will not help, as the special stage is full of potential traps, and is relatively difficult as far as navigation is concerned. The organisers had announced that this would be an 'authentic' Dakar; over the past three days, this has been difficult to prove. For the young rookie, Yoshio Ikemachi, the Dakar is taking place in nearly optimal conditions. Having followed a near clockwork rhythm since the start, he is continuing his difficult nocturnal progress. Having passed CP2, he should arrive at Néma in the end of the evening.

For Gilles Martineau, the Team Manager, the main aim is to get all the three Pickup vehicles back this evening, and to bring them back to scratch so that they can get going again tomorrow morning. The mechanics are ready to greet those who have been 'shipwrecked in the sand' at any time now. The team, as motivated as ever, is not about to give up, and will support its vehicles until the very end.

Tomorrow, the Néma - Bamako liaison section should allow everyone to catch their breath, although there are still 927 kilometres to cover...

-nissan-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Colin McRae , Giniel de Villiers , Ari Vatanen , Ikemachi Yoshio