Action heats up as Dakar hits Africa FrÃ©tignÃ© ploughs through the mud At 75kms, the first African special of the 2004 Dakar might have been short but it nevertheless caused plenty of upsets, not least for Yamaha Motor France's David FrÃ©tignÃ©...
Action heats up as Dakar hits Africa
Frétigné ploughs through the mud
At 75kms, the first African special of the 2004 Dakar might have been short but it nevertheless caused plenty of upsets, not least for Yamaha Motor France's David Frétigné who lost his lead after stopping to fix a fuel supply problem on his two-wheel-drive Yamaha WR450F 2-Trac.
The Frenchman arrived in Morocco as the overall leader but slipped back to 23rd after a troublesome day saw him lose approximately six minutes as he stopped to reroute a breather pipe.
"It was a very short night for me -- I went to bed at about three in the morning and got up again at five -- and I only really slept for an hour out of the two," commented the three-time world enduro champion I was really cold during the first liaison -- after 18km my teeth were chattering and there were still 200 left to go! Right from the start of the special the engine was running rough. Fortunately I realised straight away that it was a fuel supply problem. I stopped and found a breather pipe had been snagged in the fairing. In all I lost about six minutes sorting everything out. It's a pity because the special was really good and would have suited my bike perfectly. I could have certainly stayed in the top three overall. Now I'm worried about getting too tired and I will eat and go to bed early."
Tomorrow sees a change of terrain The slippery conditions, wetter than would normally be expected in the conditions proved tricky for many riders. Last year's winner Richard Sainct, was another big name rider to hit problems, crashing in the first few kilometres and cut his arm, while Nani Roma lost precious minutes when his bib mousse in his tyre broke up.
Victory on the special went to Fabrizio Meoni ahead of Alfie Cox with Esteve Pujol third (all KTM). Overall Esteve Pujol leads by 14 seconds from Meoni with Despres third, a further three seconds behind. Frétigné took 9m33 to complete the stage, finishing in 39th. He is now in 23rd position overall, 6m 57 behind Esteve Pujol.
Tomorrow the competitors tackle 337km of special stages between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate, where they will be tackling the first dunes of this classic rally.