Still no time to relax 177 of the original 400 participants started this morning at 7:30 a.m. (cars 9:15 a.m.) on the third-to-last stage of this year's Rally Dakar. From Tidjikja to Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, there were 651 ...
Still no time to relax
177 of the original 400 participants started this morning at 7:30 a.m. (cars 9:15 a.m.) on the third-to-last stage of this year's Rally Dakar. From Tidjikja to Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, there were 651 kilometres (579 km special stage) to be completed by the X-raid drivers Luc Alphand and Grégoire de Mévius. On the agenda was the crossing of numerous ergs as well as a 240 km long section with camel grass.
Luc Alphand, yesterday's stage winner, acted as the 'road opener' and was the first to start onto the track at 8:49 a.m. in his X-raid BMW X5. The Frenchman was merely nine seconds behind his fellow countryman Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi) at the first checkpoint. Further into the stage however, Alphand got stuck in a dune and it took 20 minutes until he had shovelled himself out. In the end, he was seventh in the day's standings with a deficit of 35:59 min from the day's winner Hiroshi Masuoka. Grégoire de Mévius, in the second BMW X5, had problems with the drive-train and crossed the finish line with a considerable delay. The Belgian lost a further position and is now in seventh place in the overall standings. Luc Alphand, like before, is in fourth overall.
Sport-director Erwin Weber: "It was once again very difficult today, a mix of dunes and a stony subsoil, and the sand was very soft in many places. Of course it would be nice to make it onto the podium, but we won't be able to do that with our own power. It has often been the case that surprises have happened on the second-to-last day of the Dakar, and so it will once again exciting tomorrow. We can't relax just yet and our motto for Saturday is 'to make it through'."
Tomorrow (Saturday) a in parts new und fast special stage, which will lead the teams on intertwining sand trails to the Mauritanian border, awaits the drivers. The liaison stage to Dakar follows afterwards, and the closer the procession comes to the Senegaletian city the more it is turning into a large parade. Thousands of spectators line both sides of the street and cheer on the remaining participants of the 26th Rally Dakar.