Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate Connection: 96 km - Special: 405 km - Connection: 178 km Total: 679 km Bike: Marc Coma (SPA -- KTM Repsol -- Winner of the special stage) It's been an important day from an overall victory point of view. I started out...
Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate
Connection: 96 km - Special: 405 km - Connection: 178 km
Total: 679 km
Marc Coma (SPA -- KTM Repsol -- Winner of the special stage)
It's been an important day from an overall victory point of view. I started out without taking any real risks, but by the time I got to the supply point, I realised that I had opened a big lead, since I only saw Isidre [Editor's note: riders are obliged to take a fifteen minute break at the CP]. I reckoned that the others must have been left behind, so I decided to accelerate since it seemed to be a really good opportunity to put a lot of distance between us. What really satisfies me is that I opened the road and had to navigate from the front throughout the special without making any mistakes on a stage that was far from simple.
Isidre Esteve Pujol (SPA - KTM Gauloises -- 2nd in the special stage)
I got lost after 80 kilometres of the special. I was in Chris Blais's dust, went off the track and took a long time to find it again. Then, after 360 km, I had a problem with the road book, so I followed Marc's tracks. It hasn't been my best day, but there are plenty more of them before the finish in Dakar. I've seen that I've got three broken spokes and a brake disc which is completely worn out. It's a bit complicated because we don't have any assistance this evening, but I think I'll change my wheel with one of my team-mates.
Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM Gauloises -- 3rd)
I lost almost 20 minutes on him! I think I lost around ten with the navigation errors and the rest... It was a difficult day because I started way back from the race leaders and I had to ride in the dust a lot. At one time, I had a group of seven riders in front of me kicking up a massive dust cloud. It was hell trying to overtake them. All in all, I didn't have too bad a day and fortunately tomorrow, I'll be setting off in the right group for me.
David Casteu (FRA -- KTM Gauloises -- 4th)
We got a bit of a lesson in riding. Ah, what have you done to us, Marc!? At any rate, all season he's been proving that he really is the business. He's the world champion and I'm the runner-up, so it's only logical. But I'm more of an outsider. I'm not close to winning the Dakar, but I'm giving it my all Today I started carefully as a strategy. And after the fuel stop, I attacked and caught up with Chris Blais. It was the day of the first dunes. They weren't very big and in fact they were very loose. The amateurs are going to suffer on them.
Pal-Anders Ullevalseter (NOR -- KTM -- 5th)
The last 150 kilometres were very hard and I think everyone suffered on this surface. Personally, I'm happy because I had a good day: not great before the fuel stop, but much better after. It's a bit more complicated for me than for the big teams since I'm on my own. I like it like that, but it does cause problems. For example, today I didn't have anyone behind me in case I needed a spare part.
Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA -- Schlesser-Ford -- Winner of the special stage)
First and foremost, I'm devastated by the death of this young rider. It's really terrible news. As far as today is concerned, I hadn't especially aimed to win here, but I knew that it was possible. I'm rather proud to have finished in front of big teams like Mitsubishi and Volkswagen. It shows that I can be competitive, even on my own and even with the resources I have. At any rate, it's a good motivation to keep on taking the race to them.
Carlos Sainz (SPA -- Volkswagen -- 3rd)
Overall, I'm satisfied with this special stage. We had a couple of difficulties along the route: a puncture and grass stuck in the radiator. For us, it was important to continue making progress and avoiding problems. Of course, I have plenty of experience, but I'm still learning. I really need to make progress in the dunes. I have to find the right rhythm. For me, the driver of reference in the dunes is Stephane Peterhansel.
Joan "Nani" Roma (SPA -- Mitsubishi -- 4th)
We spent a long time behind Schlesser and it wasn't easy; we had to follow his pace. In the end, it was okay, apart from two or three small navigation errors of little consequence. Now we have to take each day as it comes. Tomorrow will not be an easy stage, but it's especially in Mauritania where things will start to get complicated. For the moment, the distance between us and Volkswagen is not significant. It's all relative, because soon there will be the opportunity to open up big gaps. All in all, it was very similar to last year.
Giniel De Villiers (AFS -- Volkswagen -- 5th)
It's always difficult to start off in first place. Everything went well until kilometre 100. We ended up in a zone with lots of vegetation, we had to go through it with a WPM and we got stuck. We then had to stop three times to take grass out of the radiator. We must have lost 5 minutes. The rest of the special was ok. The general rankings are not important for the moment. We can't open up big gaps. It's important not to lose time.
Stephane Peterhansel (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 10th)
Towards the end of the dunes, we stalled and tried to start up again three times, but the clutch burned out. I think it must have been weakened during the stage to Malaga, where we had to drive through the crowd for a kilometre, constantly using it. At any rate, we had to stop to change it and that cost us 25 minutes in the final standings. It's a pity, because had started really well. We overtook Carlos Sainz and Giniel De Villiers, everything was looking good With a mind to overall victory, it wasn't ideal. At the same time, it's been like that for three years. Each time we are around twenty minutes behind our rivals in Morocco. So there's no need to panic.
Hans Stacey (HOL -- MAN -- 2nd)
I'm happy with this special stage because I put in a very good performance, unlike yesterday when I felt I hadn't really got to grips with the race. It's very difficult to take on Chagin. It shows that he is extremely well prepared. I reckon he must do three or four rallies per year, whereas I only do the Dakar. To pick up the pace right away, that sort of preparation helps and the same thing goes for the mechanics. Last night we carried out a few adjustments on the truck's suspension and I felt that it was much better today.