Dakar: Alfie Cox stage eight report

Mayhem in the Dakar race Alfie Cox, South Africa's cross-country rally hero, racing for the Gauloises KTM team, was prophetic when he said that lots of the amateurs will not make it to the finish in Tichit. Cox, and Andy Caldecott of Australia,...

Mayhem in the Dakar race

Alfie Cox, South Africa's cross-country rally hero, racing for the Gauloises KTM team, was prophetic when he said that lots of the amateurs will not make it to the finish in Tichit. Cox, and Andy Caldecott of Australia, now joint third overall.

Last night, the organisers announced they shortened today's stage to 120 km and they would extend the finish time for yesterday's stage. This morning the wind, dust and fog prevented the helicopters from taking off. The result: "The stage was cancelled and competitors rode the stage as a liaison toTidjikja.

Only 109 bikes, 75 cars and 35 truck, are expected to make it to tomorrow's start of the stage between Tidjikja and Atar. The Dakar should return to a form of normality on Saturday's 361km stage from Tidjikja to Atar with what is predominantly a fast stage over quick tracks. The first 300km will be run at high speed before facing the mythical Chinguetti Erg at around 20 km from the finish.

The wind is continuously raging in the Mauritanian desert and the 7th stage of the Rally Dakar is still going on. Several motorcyclists, cars and trucks are still trying to reach yesterdays bivouac in Tichit. The A.S.O. has probably made a crucial mistake during the preparation for this 660 km special. Claudia Patuzzi, manager of Team KTM Gauloises explains, "All of the drivers who reached the finish yesterday were almost out of gasoline and only barely made it. Supply of gasoline was a major problem. At CP 2 each of the competitors was given 20 liters only. A.S.O. had not warned about it at their briefing the day before yesterday. Keeping the advantages of a light bike in mind, at CP 1 our motorcyclists refueled just enough to make it to CP 2. Even cars and trucks ran into problems because of that. Many participants ran out of gas in the middle of the desert."

All of the KTM factory riders arrived at last night's destination. At the bivouac in Tichit KTM had pitched up a huge, white Berber tent for the riders. There they all spent the night. Nobody had to pitch up his own tent during the sandstorm.

Early this afternoon Park Fermé was opened up and both, Fabrizio Méoni and Alfie Cox, changed the air filter on their bikes. Fabrizio was not in such a good mood. "I suffered two low blows yesterday. At first the officials canceled the mass start and then I had to navigate myself to allow the others to follow my tracks. I rode very carefully to be easy on my equipment. This would allow me to attack the next day, but now they canceled today's stage!"

"Let's just hope that it will be possible to race tomorrow's 361 km stage from Tidjikja to Atar," commented one of the organizers.

-cvz-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Fabrizio Meoni , Alfie Cox , Andy Caldecott