Team Dessoude heads for Chile !!
Team Dessoude has crossed the Andes, through passes at altitudes over 4500 metres, and is now in Chile. The team was hoping for a quieter day after their adventures... This evening, at the Calama bivouac, all is calm, but the tension is clearly visible, as the desert is growing ever closer !
Andre Dessoude is talkative this evening : " We often speak of a transition stage, as if we would have time to see the sights, but that is rarely the case in rally raids !
As men grow tired, the vehicles worn and the traps out on the track multiply, our crews must keep their concentration for hours on end, as otherwise the penalty is often immediate, even if the special stage can look easier on paper.
At this stage of the race, everything is tricky, and we are about to enter one of the most difficult areas in the world. In Calama and the region we will be crossing, it only rains four times a century, and the terrain is so inhospitable that NASA used it to test the various robots it sent to Mars. Today's special stage was shorter, even if there were 550 kilometres of liaison to cover. During yesterday's briefing, the instructions were clear : take no risks, and spare the vehicles as much as possible before the big special stages. That is where the Dakar is decided, and where its legend is written. "
Following his instructions, Christian Lavieille was serene when he started the day's stage : " We were on the limit for the past two days, after meeting a tree on a suddenly flooded track, and bursting two tyres after an impressive jump. So we decided to set a fast, but reasonable, pace. Moreover, the track had lots of deep ditches which do not suit our car.
It's true that things go quickly within the leading group, but everyone is keeping things under control, in order to spare the cars before the next redoubtable stages, which have been announced as being the deciding factors for this year's event. "
Isabelle Patissier and Thierry Delli Zotti also set off rather cautiously, especially at the first part of the stage, which took place at 3500 metres, and was more favourable to the V8 engines of their rivals : " Quite a standard day, where we increased the rhythm progressively. We gradually caught up with our rivals, and finished at a good pace. Tomorrow is another day, and we will have to be careful, especially with the navigation and when we are close to the trucks."
Once again, Angolan driver Carlos Machado de Oliveira caught the eye by gaining another three places overall : " We are delighted, as not only is the car perfect and the atmosphere in the Dessoude team very pleasant, but we are really enjoying ourselves. To get into the top 40 on our first Dakar -- it's difficult to ask for more ! "
As for Frederic Chavigny and Willy Alcaraz, they have also been through some difficult days : " The welcome from the Chileans has been fabulous, and you can't help but be humble when faced with such scenery. Crossing the Andes, even in the rain and the cold, is still exceptional, especially when you're at altitudes of over 4500 metres. Today's special stage took place without incidents; we wanted to strengthen our position to be able to face the coming days with serenity. "
For David Deslandes, competing in his first Dakar, this is a real revelation : " I only knew the Dakar from the television coverage, but here everything is harder, hotter, further, bigger, crazier... In rallycross events, the races are intense and you get a real adrenaline rush, but it only lasts a few minutes. Here, it is at least two hours a days for two weeks... this is a true extreme sport ! Today, I had my first puncture, so it was also the first time that I had to change wheel in the sand... quite an event. Alain did a great job with the navigation and we got through it all well. "
The Chinese driver Honghzi Guo, imprisoned in yesterday's sandy bog, opted not to wait for the rescue set in motion by the team, and was towed by a different service crew than that of the team; he was therefore logically and unfortunately excluded from the event... that's the Dakar !
Despite short nights and extremely long distances, the biker Pierrick Bonnet is still in the race and is fighting hard to reach his goal : Buenos Aires !
Tomorrow : Calama/Iquique -- Liaison 36 kms -- Special Stage 423 kms. On the menu : rocks, dry saline lakes, off-track and navigation... Welcome to the Dakar !
-source: team dessoude