Luc Alphand celebrates his second stage victory The difference between snow and sand? For X-raid pilot Luc Alphand, apparently there is none. The congenial man from Serre-Chevalier, who in the 1990s was the series champion of the alpine skiing...
Luc Alphand celebrates his second stage victory
The difference between snow and sand? For X-raid pilot Luc Alphand, apparently there is none. The congenial man from Serre-Chevalier, who in the 1990s was the series champion of the alpine skiing world cup, apparently could soon one day reach this status in raid-sport as well.
In any case, he left the competition behind him once again and achieved his second stage victory of this rally Dakar on today's 14th stage: "Our second stage victory is surely thanks to my co-pilot Henri Magne. His navigation was once again outstanding. This morning I planned to stay on the heels of the top drivers and didn't even think about winning. All of the tracks went towards the north at kilometre 160 but we went off the track and found an old trail which I knew and had used in previous years. I think the others got lost a little bit. We were told at the second control point that we were in second and, because we were able to drive in a good rhythm, that's were I thought about winning for the first time. Then I saw Colin McRae (Nissan) in the sand dunes. I wanted to impress him a little bit so we overtook him. Towards the end of the stage he started to catch up to me again, he truly drives like a world champion, but in the end, I was the one who came in first. Colin came to me at the finish and said: 'I thought you were a skier?' I admit I really enjoyed that, and I believe it annoyed him! Our BMW X5 is simply running superbly and once again we had a day without any problems."
Grégoire de Mévius, on the other hand, had some bad luck and lost time due to repair work: "We started to get lost with the Mitsubishis at the 180 km mark. Behind a small dune, there was a large area with sandy undergrowth. I slowed down too much and I landed on top of the dune. 20 kms later, we broke a wheel hub. Luckily, we had the right spare part with us and we repaired it. But unfortunately it cost us a lot of time and afterwards I also didn't start driving full speed right away, but instead increased my speed in stages."
Naturally, there is celebration in the air within the X-raid team about the further success of Alphand and co-pilot Henri Magne. Technical director Erik Schindler has been impressed with the Frenchman's style of driving since last year, when Alphand joined the X-raid team: "Luc simply has an unbelievable driving competence on this soft ground. He already dominated the competition in skiing with his outstanding sense of glide and apparently, he can also transfer this to his driving. Well done Luc!"
Tomorrow (Friday) the route will lead the caravan westwards 651 kilometres (579 km special stage) from Tidjikja to Nouakchott. Here the competitors will once again meet with the dreaded camel grass in a more than 200 kilometre long section. Camel grass grows on sand hills, which become very hard due to the vegetation. If such a hill is met at higher speed it is just like hitting a massive stone. Consequently, caution is called for because no driver wants to put the arrival at the finish in Dakar on the line so short before the end of the rally. The navigation will be challenging once again as well.