Peterhansel adds to his domination
Today's stage was neutralised for the motorcycle division in tribute to Andy Caldecott. In the car division, Carlos Sainz (VW-n307) won but it was Stephane Peterhansel (MIT -- n 300) who came up big today in relegating Alphand (MIT -- n 302) to 40' minutes in the overall standings.
No one had the heart to set off this morning. At the start in Kiffa, the bikers knew that there would be no timed sections. The decision was made the night before to run stage 10 on liaison. In tribute to Andy Caldecott, who died yesterday, the time was neither for the show nor competition. All the competitors who finished stage nine began the day at Kiffa with a minute of silence. This was followed with a route of more than 300 kms during which the riders didn't stop thinking of Andy and their sport as well.
Inevitably, the unique conditions of this procession towards Kayes made the route painful. Andy Caldecott's team mate, Carlo De Gavardo (KTM -- n 4) still seemed distraught: " it is hard for me. It is not easy for a professional rider to see that death is a possible, but it comes with the job ". Marc Coma (KTM-n2) expressed the same sentiment in the manner he spent this unique day: ' we want to run the stage together, but with this dust it was too dangerous to run in groups. I preferred to set off alone in front and I thought a lot on the bike, as I'm sure all the others did. "
On four-wheels, the timed special on stage 10 was run at its full distance, with a few stakes capable of partially re-concentrating the teams on their objectives. Stephane Peterhansel, who had already taken a decisive advantage on yesterday's stage, was looking to confirm his domination of the rally. Clearly, the goal was to widen his gap from Luc Alphand in the general standings. He did just that. The work of picking up seconds began in the first kilometres. Starting first, the leader of the race was forced to maintain a hard-charging pace to distance his team mate. At mid-race, "Peter's" work was already paying off, because his virtual lead rose to 1'50". Next, the former skier largely contributed to his team mate's big day, in hitting a tree. A half an hour stop at km 218 provoked his lose. With a 40'04" deficit, Alphand will have to hope for a similar misadventure to "Peter" to win his first Dakar. On the other hand, he defended his second place in the general standings against Giniel De Villiers (VW-n305), in gaining some 12-minutes today over the South African.
If Giniel De Villiers remains the highest placed Volkswagen driver in the general standings, the German brand all the same took some modest revenge with the performance of Carlos Sainz, who doesn't stop running hot and cold on the rally. Impressive on hid good days, like he was in winning his fourth stage of the rally, he has yet to find the consistency that would permit him to battle for the top spots on the leader board. Two nightmarish days due to his exuberance have him 10h13'49'' behind Peterhansel.
In the truck division, Hans Stacey took his third victory on the 2006 Dakar by a margin of 1'44''from Firdaus Kabirov and 23'42'' from Vladimir Chagin. The four-time winner of the event, who stopped lost 10-minutes but still has a 3h18' lead over Kabirov.