The 647-kilometre (191 km special stage) second-to-last stage of the 2004 Dakar once again dealt the drivers a number of demanding challenges from Nouakchott to Dakar today. Joy and grief stood side by side for the X-raid team. Luc Alphand ...
The 647-kilometre (191 km special stage) second-to-last stage of the 2004 Dakar once again dealt the drivers a number of demanding challenges from Nouakchott to Dakar today.
Joy and grief stood side by side for the X-raid team. Luc Alphand took second place in the day’s standings with only a blink of an eye (59 seconds) separating him from Jutta Kleinschmidt in the VW Touareg (drives out of protest after her disqualification), who took first place today. Grégoire de Mévius, in the second BMW X5, had a rollover today and was the 51st to cross the finish line of the special stage. Fortunately, de Mévius and co-pilot Alain Guehennec were not hurt. Luc Alphand remains in fourth place in the overall standings, whereas Grégoire de Mévius is now in eighth place.
Sport-director of the X-raid team, Erwin Weber, had already spoke of surprises yesterday, which have often occurred on the second-to-last day of competition: “It’s naturally misfortunate that Grégoire had the accident but that’s just the way rally sport is. The drivers are constantly at their limits and so something like this happens occasionally. That’s why we’re even happier about Luc’s repeated success. He’s shown once again today that he’s on his way to becoming one of the best of the best drivers. On the whole I’m very satisfied with our results: Two stage wins, four times in the top three and a total of 15 times in the top five; and this at our second Dakar Rally! Besides that we’ve won the diesel-category and that shows how dependable and powerful the BMW diesel’s and the technology of the BMW X5 are. We’ve improved our results compared to last year, which, especially because of this year’s demanding routes, is a great success for us. A big compliment to the whole team, which has worked a great deal, has worked dedicatedly and has worked very well. It was surely quite hard and the mechanics often pushed themselves to their limits as well - but that’s just what the Dakar calls for. During the rally we’ve received numerous e-mails from throughout the world in which we were congratulated for our showing and our successes and I’m proud of the teamwork we’ve shown here.”
Tomorrow, the last day of the rally, is the ‘cool-down’ so to speak. The last special stage goes 27 kilometres around the ‘Lac Rosé before the competitors roll onto the finish ramp at the hotel Méridien after the last short liaison stage (37 km). You can be sure that the champagne corks won’t only be flying from the podium because, in the end, everyone who reaches the finish of the Dakar is a champion.