At long last ... Africa. The competitors were forced to swallow the first tough special after a liaison of 233 kilometers. A special of 75 kilometers on a sand track fringed with pine trees. A tough job for the motorcyclists and the drivers so...
At long last ... Africa. The competitors were forced to swallow the first tough special after a liaison of 233 kilometers. A special of 75 kilometers on a sand track fringed with pine trees. A tough job for the motorcyclists and the drivers so they could get used to the testing of the coming days. Treacherous bends, holes in the road and so now and then no road at all. This all were the ingredients for the first real challenge.
The leader, Gerard de Rooy, was the first to start in the Special. He was still on lead at checkpoint 1 after 25 kilometers. At that moment he was 1.59 minutes ahead of the Kamaz pilot Kabirov. However, after 75 kilometers Kabirov appeared to be a bit faster. “We could have won the special but only if we had taken dangerous risks,” says Gerard de Rooy, “now we enjoyed the beauty of this special and we made a good time. Anyhow, we keep command in the overall league.”
Jan de Rooy didn’t do that well. Already before the first checkpoint he had a flat tyre that, at the end, took him away from the top rankings. The Dutch haulier finished 47th, 43.56 minutes behind the Russian Kabirov. Obviously Jan de Rooy was peed off: “a flat tyre is one thing, but it has cost me also a brake tube, so I was forced to take it easy. Fortunately we have enough time left as the rally has jus begun. Maybe I can compensate the loss.”
Hans Bekx had again a good day. He finished 4th, after Tchaguine and just ahead of Brazil’s de Azevedo and Madeev. Van Ginkel took his Ginaf to the 7th place. Hans Stacey finished 44th at 34.59 minutes.
In the overall league, Gerard de Rooy keeps the lead with a small jump of 13 seconds on Kabirov, 1.37 minute on Tchaguine, 4.51 minutes on Bekx and 5.19 minutes on de Azevedo. Jan de Rooy holds the 46th place, being quite far behind the leader, i.e. 43.46 minutes.
It’s clear: the fighting between the trucks has started.
The old stager Meoni was the fastest motorcyclist. After he started from Tangier together with some 190 other motorbike riders, it took him 41.53 minutes to do the Special. South Africa’s Alfie Cox left his marks after 3 days of inconspicuous driving. He took the second place at 33 seconds. Esteve Pujol finished 3rd and Despres 12th at 2.37 minutes. Eric Verhoef finished 26th. Nani Roma, who damaged his tyre, was just ahead of him, but last year’s winner Richard Sainct was behind him on the 30th place. He also left Frétigné behind him who was very surprising the first few days but now finished 39th. Richard Sainct suffered a fall after only 5 kilometers of the special, so he could forget a good placing. The Spaniard Pujol takes command, ahead of Meoni, Despres and Cox. We see Sainct back on a 20th place, 5.42 minutes behind Pujol. Verhoef takes the 22nd place at 6.44 minutes, Frétigné 23rd at 6.57 minutes, Arjan Brouwer on the 42nd, van Pelt on the 49th and Robbe on the 51st place.
Ari Vatanen showed he’s still a professional. He did a masterly race, especially during the second part of the special. He needed a bit more than 40 minutes and stayed 10 seconds ahead of Peterhansel who was on the lead for quite a while. It was the 50th victory for the Fin in his DAKAR-history. The differences at the top were small. Biasion needed 33 seconds more, McRae 41 and Masuoka 49 seconds. De Villiers finished 6th at 1.12 minute. De Mevius, Schlesser and Alphand all arrived within 2 minutes from the winner. Three times DAKAR winner René Metge crashed but was able to finish. He took the 133rd place at 1.51.30 hour. Peterhansel keeps the lead of a peloton of favourites, all being within 3 minutes behind him: Biasion, de Mevius, Vatanen, Masuoka, McRae, Servia, Alphand, de Villiers and nr. 10, Schlesser.
Tomorrow the second stage in Morocco. 575 Kilometers, including a special of 337 kilometers.
The sixty-four thousand dollar question is whether Jan de Rooy will be able to make up arrears ...