Dakar: Day 10 news and notes

Three days of almost rest ! It certainly isn't what most competitors of the Telefonica Dakar 2004 were expecting... For some, it even is something they were not hoping for... But after the first surprise or disappointment, all believe it is a good...

Three days of almost rest ! It certainly isn't what most competitors of the Telefonica Dakar 2004 were expecting... For some, it even is something they were not hoping for... But after the first surprise or disappointment, all believe it is a good thing. The three last stages in a row proved to be perfect for those expecting a tough Dakar. For the others, it was time for a well deserved rest...

St?phane Peterhansel.
Photo by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.
176 out of 400 on the start line in Clermont-Ferrand. Late in the morning, that was the number of competitors expected or having made it to Nema, end of ... yesterday's stage. Indeed many, had only crossed CP3 (at 11h15) and still had another 248kms before the official finish line. The numbers just show how demanding this 26th edition of the Dakar is. Half of the starters on day 1 will be trying to make it to Dakar.

But how hard is the rally ? For the bikers and Fabrizio Meoni (KTM °3), who flew directly to Bamako without having to ride the liaison on the road, "it's a magnificent rally, very tough, like I like them". Alfie Cox (KTM n°10) almost shares the Italian's point of view : "Even for me who has done hard Dakars, like in 98 and 99, I find it at the limit".

Cyril Despres (KTM n°2), regrets this forced stop but admits that it's for personal reasons. "It's a strange feeling being here today. On one hand it's good to rest but on the other hand, I don't really need it. I was counting on my physical strength to make a difference, so I have an advantage less". Richard Sainct certainly wraps up what many might think in the best way : "It's great to do the stage on a plane. I would have preferred to do it on my bike in the race. Now, for the other competitors, it's a good thing that they can rest. Last year, the Dakar was too easy, this time it's very difficult. The Dakar however shouldn't become impossible ! Let's not forget that the weather conditions are very bad, the sand is very soft. Those who will finish he rally can be very proud."

Among the 76 bikers (for the moment) still in the rally, after having made it to Nema, all are not only on 'Super Production' bikes. David Fretigne (Yamaha n°12), 12th overall, indeed leads the 'under 450cc' category. One can only be full of admiration for Michel Marchini (KTM n°20), the leader of the 'Production' standings and 13th overall, or Italy's Francesco Tarricone (Honda n°50), 49th and 1st in 'Production under 450cc', as well as Belgian Jeroen Ramos (Yamaha n°83), 65th and 1st of the 'under 250cc'. Let's not forget, South African Cornel De Villiers (Bombardier n°910), 60th and 1st of the quads, one of the most physical disciplines.

The bikes are loaded on an aircraft for the transfert from N?ma to Bamako.
Photo by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.
While some of the bikers were enjoying the sunshine on the Bamako airport, the car and truck competitors were driving on the liaison to the Mali capital. The first on the tarmac was Jean-Louis Schlesser (Schlesser Ford n°200). "Over 900kms of liaison is worse than a special. At least in a special you can attack. We left at 8h30 this morning, we drove fast when we could. There were 100kms of difficult course".

Other than the overall, in which Peterhansel (Mitsubishi n°203) has a comfortable 1h lead on Masuoka (Mitsubishi n°201), the 'others' can already be proud of their performances. Jean-Pierre Strugo (Mercedes n°217), first of the 'Production/cross country cars' is in an excellent 15th place overall. "This Dakar is one of the most difficult I have ever done. If we had had to start this morning it really would have been tough". Former Formula one driver Ukyo Katayama (Toyota N°230), is 1st of the 'Production/cross country diesel' standings and 18th overall while in the trucks Spaniard Jordi Juvanteny (MAN N°451), 13th overall is top of the '6 to 8 wheel drive' category.


Neutralized Stage

At 15h30, 169 vehicles had made it to the finish line of the stage between Tidjikja and Nema in Mauritania : 76 bikes, 55 cars and 38 trucks.

On the finish line of yesterday's special between Tidjikja and Nema, only 144 vehicles had made it to the bivouac at 11h15 : 65 bikes, 46 cars and 33 trucks. A lot of competitors were still in the special. Indeed at that same hour, 79 bikes, 59 cars and 38 trucks had made it to CP 3 (km 488). All competitors arriving et the Nema bivouac (end of the special) after 7h30 this morning, will be given a common penalty of 21h. Their only obligation now, if they want to remain in the rally race, is to make it to Bobo Dioulasso before 18h00 on Monday the 12th of January, rest day.


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Ukyo Katayama , Jean-Louis Schlesser , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Richard Sainct , Jean-Pierre Strugo , David Fretigne , Jordi Juvanteny , Francesco Tarricone