Master-Piece of the Dakar Rally 2003. The longest of all special stages (584 km) at the 25th anniversary of the Dakar Rally saw a thrilling duel between Mitsubishi pilots Stephane Peterhansel and Hiroshi Masuoka at the top of the field. Gregoire...
Master-Piece of the Dakar Rally 2003.
The longest of all special stages (584 km) at the 25th anniversary of the Dakar Rally saw a thrilling duel between Mitsubishi pilots Stephane Peterhansel and Hiroshi Masuoka at the top of the field. Gregoire de Mevius on X-raid BMW X5, secured his forth position in total. Luc Alphand with the second X-raid BMW X5 again underlined his performance of the day before with a seventh place today.
At the beginning of the special stage the pilots had to face about 300 fast and varied kilometres, before they finally reached the Erg Awbari. Mighty dunes, 50 to 100 metres high, dominated the area. The tricky thing with those dunes is not to climb them but to find the right spot to cross the ridge safely. In order to find their most suitable way across the dunes and not getting stuck, all participants designed numerous zigzag tracks into the sandy course.
Both X-raid BMW X5 pilots at the first third of the special stage lost much time due to a navigation problem, when they took the wrong one of a parallel track which changed into a false direction later and had to fight back their way to the ideal course. As a result, Gregoire de Mevius could not reach the top placing of the last few days and he today finished on a 12th place. In total the Belgian is now ranking 4th with 4:18 min. delay on Kenjiro Shinozuka (Nissan). De Mevius after the finish line of the special stage: "Unfortunately we went the wrong way which did cost us a lot of time. At the end I did not want to risk too much as no service is allowed after this stage in Ghat. My main focus tomorrow will be to regain the third place. Experts of the Dakar know that the overall classification all of a sudden can change. There is still a long way to go until finish and we have a couple of difficult stages with tricky navigation, where many things can happen."
One of the most difficult special stages, in fact, waits for the participants of the Dakar 2003 already tomorrow with the stage from Ghat to Sabha over a distance of 727 kilometres (including 497 km special stage). After leaving Ghat, the caravan will first be lead in southern direction towards Algeria and will swing to the North later on to Sabha, where the participants will be in the middle of the bizarre Akakus massif made of huge sand dunes and squared stones. Then, the participants will get to the famous Erg Murzuk, well-known and feared for the big and impassable sand fields, which will become a major challenge for the teams.