The Nissan Pickups head for Africa. After France, it was the turn of Spain to greet the teams and drivers taking part in the 25th edition of the Dakar, who met up at Castellon, not far from Valencia, for the second event. The eight-kilometre ...
The Nissan Pickups head for Africa.
After France, it was the turn of Spain to greet the teams and drivers taking part in the 25th edition of the Dakar, who met up at Castellon, not far from Valencia, for the second event. The eight-kilometre special stage took place on a sunny beach, in front of plenty of enthusiastic spectators.
After the first French event, and before facing the African tracks, the team decided to spare the cars and to maintain position. Therefore, Giniel De Villiers, who started in second place after his excellent performance the day before, opted for prudence and finished in sixth place.
Giniel De Villiers : "The special stage was short but I enjoyed myself going over some good jumps. The car is perfect and there were no incidents to break our concentration. Next stop : Africa; obviously, things will start to get serious. We'll be starting from third position ... not in front, and not behind, in short, in a perfect position !"
Ari Vatanen, still receiving plenty of applause from the crowds, said he was quite serene, and set the seventh-best time. Ari Vatanen : " Things were quite quiet this morning. There is no point in an all-out attack on this sort of stage; we maintained position and looked after the Pickup...Now for Tunisia and the first real problems ... the attack will start soon...
Although he set a fine fourth-best time, Kenjiro Shinozuka appeared to share his team-mates' feelings. Kenjiro Shinozuka : " Three years ago, right here, I made a very big mistake which had very serious consequences. It was a good lesson, and today I really held back. It would be really ridiculous to compromise all our hopes over 8 short kilometres right at the start of the rally."
No-one in the team could hide their impatience to finally get to the mysterious African continent, and at the thought of setting off over the Sahara sands, the drivers' eyes lit up...
The overall classification has changed, with Giniel De Villiers losing a place to third overall ; Ari Vatanen is in seventh place, while Kenjiro Shinozuka gained two places and is now eighth.
Thierry De Lavergne, who is unwell, is 10th, and Al Mutawei, who had a few technical problems, is only in 30th place in the overall classification.
Al Mutawei : We started in 32nd place, but then I made a hard landing after a big jump, which damaged the front transmission. This incident meant that I had to finish the special stage with two-wheel drive. I will have a lot of cars to overtake during the next, rather short, stage. I have heard that it has been raining hard over the Libyan and Tunisian deserts, which should harden the sand and save us from sinking in the sand.
Yves Loubet, 37rd in the special stage and 26th overall, is also leading his category. Yves Loubet : We are delighted to be leaving Europe as category leaders, but unfortunately it is not significant. Serious matters will only start in Africa. My aim is simple : to take car of the car and to optimise its performance ... I am not hiding the stress I am under, even if I am trying to face the event with serenity.
Tongiht, the Dakar caravan is being loaded on board the ferry that will take it across the Mediterranean, and after a day and two nights at sea, everyone will land in Tunisia.
On Sunday, after 89 kilometres of liaison, the Nissan teams will face a short, 25 km special stage in the North African desert, before reaching the first bivouac in Tozeur.