Kayes to Tambacounda Connection: 180 km - Special: 260 km - Connection: 18 km Total: 458 km Bike: Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM -- Winner) During the last 20 kilometres, I started thinking. I couldn't see the helicopter above me and the people at...
Kayes to Tambacounda
Connection: 180 km - Special: 260 km - Connection: 18 km
Total: 458 km
Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM -- Winner)
During the last 20 kilometres, I started thinking. I couldn't see the helicopter above me and the people at the side of the road had strange expressions on their faces. I had a bad feeling about it. I'm glad that Marc [Coma] wasn't too badly hurt. This morning, we were a little worried about the dust from all the competitors who started in front of us. I'm really relieved for Marc and also for Isidre [Esteve]. As regards my special, I found the right direction after 6 kilometres although the riders in front of me had got a bit lost. It was difficult to navigate, but I'm very satisfied with my special, I enjoyed myself. I've always said since Morocco, when I had mechanical problems, that if I didn't believe in my chances of victory, then I might as well have gone home. But the Daker isn't finished just yet. There are still two days to go and I could have navigation problems tomorrow.
Tom Classen (SA -- KTM -- 4th)
It's really great to be amongst the first to start. You concentrate on your own navigation. You don't have to follow idiots. I knew that Cyril (Despres) was behind me but I didn't want him to take advantage of my navigation, so I tried to hide. I'm delighted with this second place. I'm following in the footsteps of Alfie Cox who was a great biker.
David Casteu (FRA - KTM Gauloises -- 11th)
Just before I got to CP1 I found Isidre [Esteve], on the ground next to his bike. He asked me what he was doing there, where he was. The bike was damaged and I couldn't repair it. I took him on my bike to CP1 where I knew there was a doctor. When we got there, I gave some money to one of the locals to go with his pick up to fetch the bike. It gave me so many bad memories of last year. I suppose that Isidre went for all-out attack because he needed to for his race and sponsors. I'm 2nd in the general rankings, but today I'm not thinking about that.
Jordi Arcarons (KTM Repsol Team manager)
Marc [Coma] is hurting a lot but he is okay. He hasn't broken anything. He's going to have a series of medical examinations in Dakar then in Barcelona. He seemed in good spirits in spite of the circumstances. He didn't really remember how he had the accident but he was riding off-track and hit a tree. The damage to his morale is worse than the physical damage.
Chris Blais (USA -- KTM -- 2nd)
Yesterday, I had a bad fall after only 30 km. I didn't have any brakes for the rest of the special stage, so this morning I had to start in 18th position. It was vital to navigate and ride carefully whilst still going fast. Apparently, the riders in front of me found the right track and I followed them. It's good that I've made time up on Casteu and Ullevalseter. It's especially the Norwegian who was worrying me. I didn't want him to catch up with me in the general standings.
Carlos Sainz (SPA - VW - Winner)
We were the first to start. On a stage like that it was complicated. There were a lot of parallel tracks at the start. It was also very narrow. After that, it opened out a little and we were able to hit the gas. The fact that Peterhansel finished 26 seconds behind shows that there isn't that much difference in terms of the machines. I'm going to continue with an aggressive strategy to pick up 5 victories, 1 more than last year.
Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 2nd)
That's another day left. In this sort of situation, you count down the kilometres. When you're leading the race, the special stages seem very long. It's different to when you chasing, in which case you always want more time to catch up. It's never easy to take on this last stage, even if I know that things have gone well many times before. I'm not forgetting last year either, when several cars lost a lot of time between Tambacounda and Dakar. We still haven't had any racing instructions, apart from making sure we get the cars to Dakar in the first two places, so we must avoid accidents. If we did have one, we could lose 20 minutes to Schlesser each day. That said, we're not driving like slow-coaches, which my second place 26'' behind Sainz today goes to show. It means that we are taking risks.
Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA -- Buggy Schlesser -- 5th)
I'm glad that I got 7 minutes back on Al Attiyah. The start of the special stage didn't really suit our buggy. It was far too winding. It was better towards the end. As regards our lead over Al Attiyah, I was calculating in the car and I reckoned that if we managed to finish the special stage in 2 hrs. 30 min., he would never be able to make up 20 minutes on us. Now, before thinking of third place, we still have to make sure we finish tomorrow's stage. It's obviously very important for us to finish on the podium. In Lisbon before the start, I thought we could do it, but then during the race, I noticed that the others have really made a lot of progress.
Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT -- BMW -- 12th)
I had a very bad day. After 50 kilometres of the race, I had problems with the gear-box. I couldn't put the car into first, second, third or fourth. I had to drive all the last part of the stage in fifth and sixth. Schlesser has opened up a gap of seven minutes more today, which means there is more than thirty minutes to make up. It's almost all over.
Ales Loprais (CZ - Tatra -- Winner)
There were loads of trees and we were really offensive today. We bumped the truck quite a few times because the tracks were often very narrow. In fact, it was yesterday's stage that formed our decision to attack. We lost 25 minutes the day before yesterday, whereas we were 2nd at CP1. After that, there was a flat part and we lost time, which we wanted to get back today, because we are aiming for third place. However, we fell short, but this stage victory is still worth the effort since it's my first on the Dakar.
Hans Stacey (HOL - Man -- 2nd)
Today we were really careful how we drove. We didn't take any risks. We just wanted to finish the day and get nearer to Dakar. But the truck is working really well, so we stepped on the gas a bit though. We lost a bit of time, because we had to make a few U-turns: I didn't want to force my way through the trees and damage the truck.
lgizar Mardeev (RUS - Kamaz -- 3rd)
The route today was split into two parts. The first was technical and the second a lot quicker. Everything went well, bearing in mind that our aim now is to reach Dakar still in third place in the general rankings. Personally, I felt that the only difficulty was that the route was not suited to a truck race. It was too narrow and winding. I preferred the long stages in Mauritania.