Tan Tan to Zouerat Connection: 414 km - Special: 394 km - Connection: 9 km Total: 817 km Bike: Jordi Viladoms (SPA - KTM Repsol - Winner) It's my first ever stage victory. I'm really very happy and surprised also. I knew I was riding well ...
Tan Tan to Zouerat
Connection: 414 km - Special: 394 km - Connection: 9 km
Total: 817 km
Jordi Viladoms (SPA - KTM Repsol - Winner)
It's my first ever stage victory. I'm really very happy and surprised also. I knew I was riding well because I caught up with Cyril Despres. However, I didn't catch up with Marc (Coma) and Isidre (Esteve), so until the finishing line I wasn't aware of it. I didn't expect to win a stage that quickly. Of course, it's what you aim to do, but for this Dakar, my objective is to help out Marc first and foremost. This result shows that we are a capable team and that the effort put in throughout the year is well worth it. I've only done one Dakar, last year, and I still have a lot to learn, but it's good start.
Marc Coma (SPA - KTM Repsol -- 2nd)
I'm very happy for Jordi (Viladoms) and not surprised by his victory today. He's an improving rider and his time will come. We work hard in this team and we can see that it pays off. Since the start, we've been with the pace and so are the bikes' conditions. We're riding our own race and not bothering about anyone else.
Chris Blais (USA -- KTM -- 3rd)
All the team was quick. We arrived at CP1 in under an hour. On the special, I reached a top speed of 168 km/h. Apart from at the supply point, I didn't see anyone at all today, I was all alone. I prefer it like that. If no-one catches up with me, that means I'm riding well. There were times when I felt really small in the middle of this immense desert. I'm happy with my day. I felt that I was very fast.
Isidre Esteve (SPA - KTM Gauloises -- 4th)
The important thing is that the race is still open. I'm very happy that the Spanish are having a great Dakar as well. As far as I'm concerned, I thought it was necessary to carry on racing calmly. I've been trying since the beginning to ride without taking too many risks. That can be decisive for the bike before the last part of the rally where everything will be up for grabs. The minutes I lost won't do any harm. I just need to keep concentrating. Today, it was important just to handle the route well. However, tomorrow will be one of the crucial stages for the final result.
Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM Gauloises -- 11th)
I'm really disappointed with today. I was really unlucky again. I've taken part in the Dakar seven times without a mechanical hitch and this time they're building up. It's the second time in three days that I've had gear-box problems. This time, I spent the last forty kilometres in first gear. I tried to find an alternative route because there was a row of dunes to cross. When I saw the helicopter above me, I thought I had made the right choice, but in fact it wasn't. But I don't have any regrets, I was right to try. In my position, I shouldn't just be waiting around. I need to do something other than following the others' tracks.
Robby Gordon (USA -- Hummer -- Winner)
I really went flat out today. I'm delighted with my day. The car was perfect. A year ago, on the same special stage, we lost 20 minutes, but this year we won. I was a bit worried about the petrol level so I slowed down at the end... At one moment, we were battling with Schlesser in the dunes, but I let him go. He was driving faster than us. As regards the general rankings, we had problems with bad petrol in Morocco. On the Dakar, that can become costly in no time. Yesterday, I got a warning for how I overtook. I was pushing the vehicles in front of me. Back home, that's what we do in the Bajas, because we don't have an overtaking warning system. But it's true that when you set off in 71st position, like I did yesterday, you really see the difference between the professionals and amateurs. Whilst some people slow down, I throw it into sixth gear. Today, when I overtook, I was careful to take a wide berth on one side or the other.
Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA - Schlesser Ford -- 2nd)
We drove a good stage at a very good pace, in spite of all the camel grass. Before the special stage, we took a muddy track. It's the first time I've ever seen that here. We had to remove all the mud, otherwise we would have started with 100 kilos extra weight! The Dakar is only just starting. Tomorrow, it's going to be hot, hot, hot! I'll be starting in second place and I'm going to drive flat out, because I want to reach Atar with the least time to make up as possible. I think it's important to stick with the Mitsubishis, because the Volkswagens are untouchable.
Carlos Sainz (SPA - VW -- 4th)
Everything is fine, and we hope it will continue like that. The dunes haven't really started. This year I'm well prepared to tackle them. As from tomorrow, we'll see whether I've gained some experience or not... I don't know whether the others are worried about us, but our prime objective is to drive our own race.
Luc Alphand (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 8th)
We're driving fast and trying, but for the moment, the Volkswagens are too quick and we can't manage. A positive point is that all four cars have finished, but we can't deny that we are suffering. Obviously, I'm not pleased to be twenty minutes behind Sainz, but it's no way near all over. For the moment, everyone is driving very quickly and pushing it to the limit. For example, Guerlain [Chicherit] rolled his car, and now it's all over for him. Since we are all flat out, I'll be amazed if they [the Volkswagen drivers] don't have any problems. When you look at the way we treat the cars, there has to be surprises some time.
Gerard De Rooy (HOL -- Ginaf -- 2nd)
It was a wonderful special stage, but I lacked power in the sand. For the fast, straight parts, we were punished in terms of speed, since the engine was only running with five cylinders out of six. We're going to try and solve that problem by tomorrow. Overall, I'm not disappointed, but I'm not particularly enthusiastic either.
Hans Stacey (HOL - Man - Winner)
I'm very happy, and not only because of the stage victory. It was a great Dakar stage. The truck was perfection itself. It's the first time since the start that everything is okay, especially the suspension which had been causing us problems. What's more, it was good because for the first time, the bikes and cars really paid attention to the Sentinel alert to let us past. That's three stages now that the first three places have been the same, but I don't believe for a second that the podium places for the Dakar are already decided. Everyone knows that anything could happen.