Team Dessoude -- to the limits and beyond !!
If the team's leading crew, Christian Lavieille and his co-driver Jean Michel Polato, are fighting at the front with the best drivers in the world, the same cannot be said for the other crews. They all finished yesterday's stage after dark, but were nevertheless able to take this morning's start. That is the Dakar, and Team Dessoude is pushing back the abilities of the cars and going beyond the drivers' own personal limits !
Andre Dessoude, the wizaard of Saint-Lo, took part in his first Dakar in 1983. He has crossed all the deserts in the world, and his expertise is second to none : " To understand the difficulties our crews are facing, you have to know that the tracks -- when there are tracks -- are rarely used, and that the race trucks make them deeper. They become real traps due to the fesh fesh, extremely fine sand which swallows up the cars, literally burying them. The crews can take hours to dig out the sand to get them out of the most difficult zones -- which can only be a few metres wide. And then there are the dunes, that you have to be able to read, to chose the most stable sections to find the way across. A normal car would not survive for more than an hour. Luckily, we are wellprepared and our cars are reliable and solid, as in these conditions, the clutch and transmission are tested and the engines overheat.
Tomorrow, at long last, is the rest day. We will be able to do some serious maintenance on the cars. This time, it will not be the drivers up against the clock, but the mechanics ! "
Christian Lavieille is holding position in the top ten, after another difficult stage : " We set off at a good pace. We didn't want to take any risks on an awkward track, made up of soft dunes then a faster, rolling track with many potential traps, and finally, our daily dose of fesh fesh. We keep thinking that the rally has not yet reached the mid-way point, and that every day, the group we are in loses at least one of its members. So you have to take care of the car. Nevertheless, we had a good day, because many parameters were ideal. We had the right tyre pressure to cross the dunes, where we managed to catch and overtake Roma. The fesh fesh went quite well, and we didn't break anything. Jean-Michel's navigation was perfect, and, above all, we didn't get any punctures today, which was a real bonus. Everything is going well, and I hope it can just last a few more days, let's say until we reach Buenos Aires
Tomorrow, we can sleep in, until 8 am at least, to be able to talk to the mechanics and to enjoy some rest and relaxation. "
Isabelle Patissier and Thierry Delli Zoti had an easier day after their misadventures the day before : " Yesterday, we fell victim to a number of minor incidents, which delayed us. The Buggy is brand new, on its first rally. The track is a ruthless test bed. Pushing hard in the sand, we didn't see a ditch and we destroyed a wheel rim and a suspension arm. We had to repair the car by the side of the track, which had literally been destroyed by the trucks. After that, we drove more carefully so that the provisional repairs would hopefully get us to the finish line. Unfortunately, the track conditions were terrible. We really had to fight to find the waypoints. Crossing the dunes at night is always a tiring experience, but through sheer willpower, we got out of the special stage at about 2 am. Anyway, I was so determined to finish the event that I would have carried the Buggy if it had been necessary. Today, however, we drove perfectly and we finished 20th in the stage." An excellent performance.
Once again, despite the late hour, three crews are still out on the track : Frederic Chavigny with Willy Alcaraz, as well as David Deslandes and Alain Brousse. They are driving to finish the special stage, setting good times that should place them 38th and 50th places respectively. They are also extremely tired as they were not able to sleep much, and are accumulating the kilometres, but they are not ready to give up. For today at least, the desert will not beat the two T2 competitors !
Things are more difficult for Carlos Machado de Oliveira, who arrived yesterday at dawn, as the car has suffered at the hands of these rookies, who are just discovering everything the Dakar can throw at its competitors.
Tomorrow is a rest day for the crews, and a marathon for the service teams. They will need to dismantle everything, in order to check and prepare it for the second part of the rally, and in particular for the next two days, which take place on remote, long-abandoned tracks...
-source: Team Dessoude