Tichit to Nema Connection: 0 km - Special: 494 km - Connection: 3 km Total: 497 km Bike: Marc Coma (ESP - KTM Repsol -- 3rd) - 1 It was a long stage again today. 500km of very technical and physically demanding special stage in the beginning.
Tichit to Nema
Connection: 0 km - Special: 494 km - Connection: 3 km
Total: 497 km
Marc Coma (ESP - KTM Repsol -- 3rd) - 1
It was a long stage again today. 500km of very technical and physically demanding special stage in the beginning. Then I speeded up even if the latest sandstorms had slightly changed the route. So I had to be extremely careful. I drove the whole stage alone in the lead. With this finish in Nema, we just completed two essential stages. Tomorrow, we are still in Mauritania, then comes black Africa where navigation will be essential. I don't want to and I won't think that I've won the raid. I have seen too many things in this race to dare think it. I need to focus and prepare each stage as if it was the first one. This is the only attitude to have...
Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM -- 2nd) - 2
Yesterday during the assistance evening, I must have lost my mechanical skills. This morning at the start of the special stage, there was a wire loose in the road book. I had to scroll through it manually all day. It's as if I had to twist candy-frost on a stick for 7 hours straight at a fun fair. So I had to pay even closer attention. Additionally, being physically tired, I had to be extra focused! As for the gearbox problems of the KTM bikes, we'll see how things change. If Coma is ok, he will have to think about playing the lottery soon. There will be a lot of stress tomorrow. I still believe in it, I am not fighting for 2nd place in the overall rankings. I might have a chance of winning. A lot of things can still happen till we're on the beach in Dakar. 'Marathon' stages are great for the Dakar. Ok, today I had to pay my dues, but it's a good thing. It spiced up the race.
Janis Vinters (LET -- KTM -- winner) - 23
A very fast stage during which I could show my skills on sandy ground. It's really the terrain I prefer. I did this stage alone almost all of the time. I quickly caught up with Casteu and Azevedo before passing them. Then I stayed in the wheel of Blais for the last 15 km. It's the first time I win a special stage and I am thrilled. I am very surprised of the gap. If I had been told how far ahead I was, I would probably have slowed down to safeguard victory. No celebration tonight but in Dakar we'll celebrate for sure.
Jean De Azevedo (BRE - KTM Petrobras -- 5th) - 5
I'm happy I got this nice 5th place in the stage. It was less hard than yesterday, which was the toughest stage in the rally. Today, there was sand, stones and a lot of navigation. It's comforting to be 5th but I don't expect anything in terms of results in this Dakar anymore. 4 days ago, I broke the bike and I stayed for 8 hours in the desert. My initial aim of being in the top 5 has vanished. I just want to get to Dakar.
Stephane Peterhansel (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 2nd) - 302
We had mixed emotions when we saw De Villiers' car on fire. Of course it's important for the overall rankings but we think he did not deserve it. He was doing his best Dakar and driving wonderfully well. A few kilometers further, we also had trouble of our own when we fried our clutch. We had to repair and lost 15'. Standings are never set in stone in the Dakar. It's nice to be in the lead for the first time in the rally. But now we have to finish the next four stages. Pressure is on our side now. Before it was on Volkswagen, now it's for us to deal with. But I think I showed in the past that I can handle pressure pretty well...
Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA -- Schlesser-Ford -- Winner of the special stage) -
We are only two minutes behind Nasser Al Attiyah! Well, we'll pass him tomorrow. I'm happy because it was a difficult stage, for instance the whole section with a lot of sand, which is not an advantage for us. Three days ago, Volkswagen was untouchable; I thought they were. I still believe that if they had not had problems, they could not possibly have lost. As far as I'm concerned, I will now focus on how to get a position in the top 3. My concern is that there are still 2-3 hard days ahead on terrains where my immediate rival Nasser Al Attiyah should do better than I with his 4x4.
Luc Alphand (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 2nd) - 300
We already saw last year that anything can change as long as the finishing line is not behind us. It's the case again this year. Today, trouble has changed teams but trouble is still there. I think we should never rejoice at other people's bad luck and really, Giniel did a fabulous job. Of course it's good for us, but I'm not happy about what happened to him. The way I see it is that we worked well with Mitsubishi on the reliability of our cars and it's pretty interesting to see that the problems of the others arose after an evening without assistance. For the rest of the race, we may not forget the prime aim, which is for a Mitsubishi to win. The gap between Stephane and I is tiny, and there should not be any particular racing strategy. So we have to be clever and responsible. It's a fine line...
Wulfert Van Ginkel (HOL - Ginaf -- Winner) - 513
It's my first stage victory on the Dakar with the truck we are building ourselves. It's a great day. Ginaf is our family business: GIN stands for the beginning of our family name and AF for Autombile Factory. We manufacture off-road trucks we sell everywhere in the world. This victory is good publicity for the brand. This truck is the new generation. During the stage, we drove with Stacey and Mardeev. But we had started 8th this morning. It's my 5th Dakar. This year it's very fast and there are a lot of top-notch pilots
Ales Loprais (RTC - Tatra -- 3rd) - 512
This stage was pretty tough as the whole Dakar. It's my first time as a driver and I'm only 27. We just have a standard truck with a slightly modified engine, that's all. And we have no assistance. No one behind us in the race. This explains that we are very happy being 3rd on one of the rough stages of the rally. Moreover, there is only two of us in the cabin. I hope it will keep getting better and better up to Dakar.
Philippe Jacquot (FRA - Man -- 4th) - 508
Yesterday, we had to change a wheel. Without any spare wheel left, we drove gently. And today, I kept playing it safe. Still driving at a sustained pace, but I never got too close to the one in front of me. 140 km from finish, we passed Mardeev's Kamaz and then we had to look for the WPM and he passed us again. So we used him as a pacemaker and we followed him at fast speed up to the finish. I am happy to see how the truck held and how many honorable rankings we had so far in the different stages.