Stage 2 - Cordoba to La Rioja
Sunday, January 3
Quotes of the stage:
"At refueling I saw that I was in front of Cyril (Despres), so I decided to attack. I gave it all it could. I did attack wherever I could. I must have grown the gap a little... It was a really tough special stage; very technical. And the trail was very slippery. Being the first to start is always a bit dangerous. There are animals everywhere. I even crossed path with two cars going in the opposite direction. But this is part of what a rally raid is all about. There are always risks because it's impossible to fence out 300 km of trails. But still, I had two really close calls. Then I slowed down a bit. At the start, there was a lot of fog and I wondered how I was going to make it. Then I added the kilometers and here I am and all is fine. In the long straight lines up on the hills, there were opportunities to beat the big bikes. But for sure this is the omen of a fine battle ahead."
David Fretigne: "With the new rule, we can win."
"It was a very nice stage. Pure riding bliss... There was green everywhere and small creeks to cross. It was not just a long series of twists and turns, of hard braking and repositioning the bike. It was fun technically speaking too. I really had a blast. The result is there. What matters is to have fun, but today the additional reward is a good place in the standings. The good part about the new rule is that victory is within reach... so there is no letting go. We have to attack right away. The race will be more interesting. Yesterday David won... the race will be fascinating."
"Today, the stage was tough for me. There was a lot of mud in the beginning. Then I had a carburation problem; the bike was much too fuel greedy. I ran out of gas 10 km shy of the refueling point. This made me loose a lot of time. I hope the problem can be solved before the stages in the sand."
Nani Roma: "Tomorrow is another day"
"I had a very difficult stage with ever-changing grip. In the beginning of the stage, I misinterpreted and in a curve - on km 6 - the car slipped. I tried to keep it on the trail but I somersaulted twice. I ended up on my wheels in a small gulch. I was able to get out of it so I am very happy to be here in one piece. Then I had issues with the engine temperature but what matters for me is to be here. Tomorrow is another day."
Nasser Al-Attiyah: "It was a good experience"
We caught up with Stephane after 150 km. We kept a modest pace for a while then it became very technical. That's where we attacked before ending up in Carlos' dust. From then on we kept up a good rythm to be sure to get a good clock. Everything is going great; not being happy with today's stage would be hard to do. The conditions were pretty difficult: there was rain, fog, a bit of everything. But it was a good experience because we made no mistake at all. This is also why I am really happy of our pace today.
Guerlain Chicherit: "I wanted to gain ground in the special stage rankings"
"With what happened yesterday, we had to regain ground in the special stage rankings or we would have been relegated too far back. It would have been complicated. I started 21st and passed about 10 cars. In the beginning, it was ok because it was wet so I could get really close but then came the dust and I had to take more risk to get closer to the ones in front of me. I missed a small curve and my injector started switching off at times. Everytime I would accelerate strongly the car would stall a bit. But today was not a bad day. We'll see tomorrow."
Vladimir Chagin - "A bit like in Russia in the fall"
This was a good day, but a very hard one, especially because of the heat in the afternoon. In the morning, we had some rain and on the parts of the trails, the ground was almost frozen. It was actually very hard and slippery, a bit like in Russia in the fall. On that part of the stage, I also had some visibility problems due to the rain, which means I had to be prudent. We also drove along some ravines, on both sides of the road. It was scary. But everything is fine, the truck is in a good state and works wonderfully. So we are ready for the race tomorrow. Now I am looking forward to seeing how the others will manage this delicate stage.