The Dakar procession will gather up new energy at camp in Bobo-Dioulasso. The rest day will be held as planned on the edge of the city in Burkina Faso. But before that, the remaining competitors had to complete a more than 900-kilometre liaison ...
The Dakar procession will gather up new energy at camp in Bobo-Dioulasso. The rest day will be held as planned on the edge of the city in Burkina Faso. But before that, the remaining competitors had to complete a more than 900-kilometre liaison stage from Nema to Bamako on Saturday and another 540 kilometres from Bamako to Bobo-Dioulasso on Sunday. For the drivers, these liaisons were relatively 'relaxing' compared to the preceding competition days because these routes weren't driven under competition conditions.
The longest stage (1,055 km from Tan Tan to Atar) and the longest and most difficult special stage (736 km from Tidjikja to Nema) are now behind both X-raid drivers Grégoire de Mévius and Luc Alphand. Now too the same goes as before - to master the remaining six competition days. The route on Saturday (01.17.) from Nouakchott to Dakar will need to be managed without GPS before the finale on Sunday begins, which is the shortest stage of 113 km and the shortest special stage (30 km). There are still a number of trials to overcome before that though. Huge sand dunes and vast dune fields will need to be crossed and tricky navigation will need to be coped with. Here, sensitive use of the gas pedal and skilful navigation are demanded from the drivers and co-pilots. Or, in a worse case, the muscle power of the teams will be needed when a vehicle has to be shovelled or pushed out of the soft sand.
Erwin Weber, sport-director for X-raid: "We knew that it would get tough starting at Mauritania. But we didn't think it would take so much out of us. The leading drivers are all in top-form, and when they're already complaining it must be tough. But that's water under the bridge. Our entire concentration is now in preparation for the last week. There are still more than 3,300 kilometres left, over 2,000 kilometres of those are special stage, which means there is still plenty of opportunity for us to positively draw attention to ourselves. There are still several difficult stages with very, very much sand. Grégoire and Luc do very well on this soft ground and I hope that both of them can make the best use of their driving talent. We have an exceptional team with high motivation and... we are always optimistic."
The caravan continues its way on Tuesday, the 13th of January. It will go 365 kilometres (213 km of which a special stage) in a westerly direction back towards Mauritania to Bamako. There are fast passages at the beginning before it leads on curvy paths through the Banfora tropical forest.