Dakar: Gauloises Racing day 12 notes

Rest day: Bobo Dioulasso After two day's of cancelled stage the rallye is back on schedule with the rest day in Bob Dioulasso. Rather than heading off to do a spot of tourism, most of the top competitors are staying close to their ...

Rest day: Bobo Dioulasso

After two day's of cancelled stage the rallye is back on schedule with the rest day in Bob Dioulasso. Rather than heading off to do a spot of tourism, most of the top competitors are staying close to their vehicles, talking about the rallye that has been and the rallye that is to come.

BIKES

Richard Sainct (Gauloises KTM France) 2nd overall (at 3'33)

"I'm very happy to get here in Bobo Dioulasso in second place given the crash I had on the first stage in Morocco -- and for that I would like to thank the doctors at Fidelia. After the crash I had to grit my teeth for two days and managed to leave Morocco only 15 minutes down -- which given the circumstances wasn't too bad. After that I suffered less in the sand coming into Mauritania and profited from the mistakes made by the other riders.

"For the rest of race it is difficult to have a concrete strategy -- it is more a question of playing it day by day. If there is a lot of dust tomorrow it should be ok, but if there is a wind blowing the dust away Roma could catch me from behind and gain 11 minutes."

Alfie Cox (Gauloises KTM International) 3rd overall (at 28'21)

"I think tomorrow's stage could be quite quick -- more like a WRC stage than a traditional rallye-raid stage. After that there are only 3 real stages left on the rallye. The Spanish KTM team have an advantage in that they have two water carriers - Esteve Pujol and Coma -- to support Roma. I think Fabrizio will stop to help me but he is on a different bike and can only supply me with wheels. As far as the French team is concerned it is clear that Cyril won't be happy to stay where he is, and as he is only 14 minutes behind me I will have to watch out."

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM France) 4th overall (at 44'54)

"For me the rallye didn't start too well when I broke my big toe on the Castellon special. I didn't talk about it at the time, and it doesn't handicap me too much while I am on the bike, but for a few days it played on my mind a little. Apart from that, everything was going well until the Atar -- Tidjika stage, where I lost an hour and a quarter with a navigation mistake. I thought I would be able to pull back that time and came back to within 44 minutes of the leader on the Tidjika -- Nema stage. Unfortunately the next two stages were cancelled, leaving me now with only 3 stages on which to make the difference. There are many scenarios possible for the remaining stages to Dakar. The Spaniards might try something as a team, Nani might try and mark Richard. For me though, there is only one solution -- ride my race and hope that I have a bit of luck. For sure the race is far from over and anything can happen."

Fabrizio Meoni

"The race has been good because it had been difficult, but unfortunately for me bad luck has meant that I am now no longer in a position to get on to the podium. I don't regret my choice of bike (the big V-twin 950 KTM) as I know I can win on, but if I come back for one more time -- right now I'd say there's a 50% chance -- I will come back on a single. Not because the twin is a bad bike, but because it is very hard on tyres and because I don't have any rapid assistance with the twin."

CARS

Jean Louis Schlesser (Gauloises Schlesser Buggy) 3rd overall (at 2h22'28)

"The first half of the race was very tough -- particularly for the amateurs -- and it isn't over yet. Under 'normal' circumstances the Mitsubishis are untouchable and I won't be able to move up the ranking unless they run into problems. On the other hand this race is not just about speed, it is also about endurance and it that respect I think we have the edge on them -- they have been having a lot of gearbox problems..."

Thierry de Lavergne (Gauloises Senegal) 13th overall (at 8h07'57)

"Until now we have been fairly lucky, we've had hardly any mechanical problems and only lost about one hour twenty minutes with punctures and navigation problems - given the distance we've covered up until now that isn't a bad 'score'. Especially given the problems the other Nissans have run into.

"Concerning what is to come, there are still 2300 km of special left to go - a good mix of sand, camel grass and piste. It won't be easy and we can't count much on any other Nissans -- there aren't many left in the race! Looking at the current rankings I can see that it is going to be difficult to move up, but very easy to go down. For us however, the most important thing is to get the car to Dakar.

"Finally I'd like to say how disappointed I am that Syndiely (Wade) has been forced to retire. However we will almost certainly to a couple of other rallyes this year -- the Tunisie and the Morocco for example -- and then she'll come back next year to have another go at the Dakar."

Jean Pierre Strugo (Gauloises Mercedes) 15th overall (at 13h39'21)

"Our current place corresponds exactly to our objectives at the start of the rallye - which given how hard this rallye has been is a source of considerable satisfaction. We are currently 15th and might be able to move up a couple of places before the end. The other source of satisfaction is that our nearest rival in T1 (production class) is one and a half hours behind us. That doesn't help us if we have a big problem, but it allows us to 'manage' our race properly -- for example to stop and let down our tyres going into dunes and stop again to re-inflate them at the end of the dunes. All in all I'd say we are looking good!"

TRUCKS

Gerardus De Rooy (Gauloises De Rooy) 3rd overall (at 1h53'10)

"Apart from one day our race has gone perfectly. Unfortunately that one day cost us two hours! Now we are fighting with Kabirov and Loprais for the third place and there is only 10 minutes between us -- but whatever happens we are going to drive our own race. They can do what they want -- pick up the pace as much as they want -- we'll continue at the same rythm. I think come Lac Rose it is a strategy that will pay."

-gr-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Jean-Louis Schlesser , Thierry de Lavergne , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Richard Sainct