Dakar: Stage 6 Tan Tan to Zouerat quotes

Stage 6 - Tan Tan to Zouerat January 5, 2006 Connection 336 km - Special 444 km Connection 12 km Total 792 km Bike: Isidre Esteve Pujol (ESP - KTM - 3ème) "We have just left Morocco and we started to ride in real sand "made in Dakar" today...

Stage 6 - Tan Tan to Zouerat
January 5, 2006
Connection 336 km - Special 444 km Connection 12 km
Total 792 km

Bike:

Isidre Esteve Pujol (ESP - KTM - 3ème)
"We have just left Morocco and we started to ride in real sand "made in Dakar" today even if the dunes were not excessively difficult to pass. We are going to try to reach halftime of the race without any mistake to make things clearer. The competition is hard for the moment but it is quite normal."

Marc Coma (ESP -- KTM -- 5th)
"That was a long stage with camel grass and dunes. A nice and very fast stage indeed. It is bad that Cyril (Despres) fell down after refueling. I arrived on the spot 20 seconds later before Isidre (Esteve) and Carlo (de Gavardo). Cyril was unconscious and three of us stayed close to him."

Carlo de Gavardo (CHI -- KTM -- 1st)
"We entered the real Africa today with plenty of off-road. We had to be very careful. It is getting tough day after day but I feel really good. I did not ride too fast because I wanted to keep cautious on any kind of danger."

Pal Ullevalseter (NOR - KTM - 4ème)
"I did a good stage, the overall pace was very fast in the first half, Giovanni Sala overtook me and I was glad to be able to follow him. Like him, I had problems with the speed limit, I had to ride very carefully. The race was dangerous in Morocco, I rode at my own pace without taking any risk. My current strategy is to stay in the top 1O every day. I will attack later in long and hot stages."

Giovanni Sala (ITA -- KTM -- 2nd)
"I did quite well today. I overtook Pal Anders (Ullevalseter) very early and I rode as fast as possible to catch up with the front-runners as soon as possible, especially Marc (Coma). My navigation was ok in the last part of the stage and I accelerated again and again to put the pressure on the front-runners. I was right. I am glad not to have made mistakes, I had great fun on the bike. I've never been lucky in Morocco. I am quite far on the overall standing but anything is still possible."

David Frétigné (FRA -- Yamaha -- 8th)
"The beginning pf the stage was not easy for me since the first 200 kilometres were very fast.I knew it would not be easy with a 450 CC in these conditions, but today the mecanics had decided to protect the engine. They made a special set up which limited me under 130 km/h. As a result, I lost a bit more time on the fastest. Luckily, after the first refueling, we entered the first dunes. It was beautiful. Above all, navigation became very important. We had to ride according to our heading, and were off the track most of the time. After a few kilometres, I decided to try a different option. It seems to have been a good idea. Actually, if I could have been 10 km/h faster, I could have won the stage. We'll see tomorrow."

Cyril Despres (FRA - KTM - 7th)
"I have dislocated my collarbone. The doctors say it is a stage 2 dislocation. I am fine. The crash happened at km 273, 50 km before the refuel point. I do remember hitting some camel grass and the back end kicking up. Isidre and Marc arrived and helped me. I don't have the feeling that I made a big mistake. I do hope that I will be fine tomorrow morning. I couldn't go home without at least trying to ride. My feelings are very mixed. On the one hand, it is 11 months training down the drain and that is obviously very frustating. On the other hand, it could have been a lot worse."

Car:

Jutta Kleinschmidt (GER - VW - 4th)
"It was a very fast and easy stage, even too easy maybe. There was no major navigation problem, except in the end where we had to stick to the road book. That's what we did, and everything went on well. So far, everything goes well, for the team and me. But this year, the race is exceptionally tight. Many of us still can win so we have to remain focused on each detail till Dakar. Anyway, the atmosphere in the team is really good. We play jokes on each other. Actually, life is cool."

Luc Alphand (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 5th)
"Even if it was a very fast stage, we lived today our first real African stage, with camel grass and first dunes. The fight is getting tougher and tougher. It wasn't a stage made for us, because our pace isn't as good as the Schlesser's buggies or even the VW. At least, the next two stages should be better for us, but our opponents seem to be good in every sectors of the race. Anyway, I think the rally will be decided by reliability, because everyone drives really fast. So, the mechanics suffers and the men take a lot of risks. It's really interesting but stressing too. Otherwise, I'm happy to be at least in Mauritania. It smells the real Dakar, and the next two days should be crucial."

Thierry Magnaldi (FRA - Schlesser - 1st)
"At the very beginning of the rally, I was afraid to need too much time to get used to the car. But I soon realised that I had the car to win a stage. We could even have won earlier in the rally. Actually, it was more than time, since things might change with the first big dune stages. I am very happy about this win, since it is my first victory with a car on the Dakar."

Giniel De Villiers (AFS -- VW -- 3rd)
"A good stage for us, very fast in the first kilometres. We had to pay attention to the bikers and at the end of the stage, we discovered the first real dunes and the camel grass. But we had no real problem. Of course we hesitated once or twice on some choices to make about navigation. I followed Nani (Roma) for a while in the camel grass and I could see that the Mitsubishi remains dreadful in these conditions, even if we really improved the car. With these new conditions, and the increasing influence of the navigation, I think everything should much more clear in Nouakchott. Taking the overall lead today doesn't mean anything, above all with these so tiny gaps. But of course, it is better than being adrift."

Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA - Schlesser-Ford - 2ème)
"It is just great for our team to finish first and second of the stage. Our buggys did very well and went fast on their playground. nevertheless, we had a flat 40 km before the end of the speciale, and we lost something like four minutes. Too bad ! We are still determined to attack again. That is how I like Le Dakar. I'm really satisfy to enter the top 5 tonight. And I think this is also good for the image of Le Dakar."

Yoshio Ikemachi (JAP -- Toyota -- 1er Production)
"La journée s'est parfaitement déroulée pour nous, juste comme nous le souhaitions. En partant ce matin, nous savions qu'il fallait faire une grande étape aujourd'hui pour être sûr de ne pas partir trop loin demain. Avec toutes les dunes au programme, il faudra en effet s'élancer dans les premiers pour éviter d'être trop pénalisé. Nous avons donc attaqué toute la journée, mais sans prendre trop de risques. D'ailleurs, nous avons eu une belle bagarre avec Jean-Jacques Ratet et Paul Belmondo qui nous ont suivi une bonne partie de la journée. A 60 km de l'arrivée, Paul a disparu, puis 30 km plus loin c'est Jean-Jacques qui a crevé. Au final, nous faisons le scratch, soit un résultat meilleur qu'on espérait, maintenant à nous d'en tirer le maximum de profit demain."

Yoshio Ikemachi (JAP -- Toyota -- 1er Production)
"We had a perfect day as we exactly hoped. When we took off this morning, we knew that we would have to do a great stage in order to start up in the front-runners tomorrow. There is a lot of dunes to come. Therefore we attacked all day long without taking any big risk. We had to compete very hard against Jean-Jacques Ratet and Paul Belmondo. They followed us during a long time. We finally won the T2 class, this is better than expected. Now it is up to us to take part of it."

Benoît Rousselot (FRA -- Nissan -- 14th T2 Class)
"That was a very bad day for us though we had never driven so well before. Our pace was ok all day long when mechanical problems, especially the engine temperature, surged suddenly at km 260. We lost more than an hour to solve the issue. It is too bad, we were very close to do great things in the race. But Dakar is Dakar and it could have been worse, for instance break the engine. We were top leader this morning, now we are in the fourth position. The race is still long, tomorrow will be a crucial day."

Truck:

Firdaus Kabirov (RUS -- Kamaz -- 3rd)
"I had no problem today. Everything worked perfectly. It was a fast stage, with many bumps. It was the only difficult passages. There were several bumps coming next to each other, I had no problem on the first one and then I managed to be very safe on the followings. Anyway, I already knew this stage. Not every detail but most of the course."

Vladimir Chagin (RUS -- Kamaz -- 1st)
"It's my birthday today, so this new win is a special gift. More seriously, today's stage was very fast and we had to overtake a lot of competitors. This situation is always a bit stressing but the good news is that we're early at the bivouac. So we could spend a bit of time with the other Russian drivers. If all the stages could be like this, it would be perfect. Now, we have a great advantage at the overall standing, but it doesn't mean we're getting to slow down the rythm. I had rather have a large advance to avoid having problem. That's what I learned from my last year's experience and the finish line is still too far away to make gifts to my opponents. Anyway, I'm very happy to be here in Zouerat because this town is a symbol of the Dakar. So, being here as the leader and with no problem at all is ever a great relief."

Hans Stacey (HOL -- Man -- 2nd)
"The stage was very fast. I had to keep an eye on the speed, since the my speed alarm no longer works. We will cop with this problem on the day off. It was a bit stressing but we have to look up to speed limit. On the other hand, the truck works perfectly well. The suspension problems we had at the beginning have been fixed. I am getting ready for the very difficult coming stages."

-dakar.com-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Luc Alphand , Jean-Louis Schlesser , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Cyril Despres , Giovanni Sala , Paul Belmondo , Marc Coma , Isidre Esteve , Carlo de Gavardo , Ikemachi Yoshio , David Fretigne , Benoit Rousselot , Vladimir Chagin , Firdaus Kabirov , Thierry Magnaldi , Hans Stacey