Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage 11 report

For its second day in Mali, the Euromilhoes Dakar 2006 saw Alain Duclos clinch his first ever stage victory and what better place than Bamako to do it for the Mali native. Overall leader Marc Coma increased his lead and can now enjoy an advantage...

For its second day in Mali, the Euromilhoes Dakar 2006 saw Alain Duclos clinch his first ever stage victory and what better place than Bamako to do it for the Mali native. Overall leader Marc Coma increased his lead and can now enjoy an advantage of over 30' on Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM). It was a triumphant day for the African continent with South Africa's Giniel De Villiers winning the car special.

Before the start of the rally, Franco-Mali rider Alain Duclos (KTM n°14) certainly noted down the date of the 11th of January: the day of Dakar stage 11 heading from Kayes to Bamako his place of birth... That was certainly the one that Duclos wanted to capture more than any other. For his 5th appearance on the rally, the KTM biker has indeed become one of the fastest and most talented of the privateers. Already 4th of the stage going to Bamako in 2001 and 2nd of the one heading from Tambacounda to Dakar last year, he made the best of his knowledge of a course he knows perfectly. The day's dirt tracks are indeed where the man from Bamako discovered biking.

The African biker discovered the Dakar thanks to French veteran Raymond Loiseaux back in 1982. At the time Duclos lived in Ivory Coast and his family welcomed Loiseaux as it was often a habit back in the early days of the rally. The biker stayed in contact with little Alain and when back in France sent him his bib number 102. 18 years later, Duclos showed up for his first Dakar with the precious bib he returned to Loiseaux.

Today was another chapter of Duclos love affair with the Dakar. He indeed captured his first ever special beating overall leader Marc Coma (KTM n°2) by 1'27". Third on the day was another privateer: Jonah Street (KTM n°42) who manages his best performance on a Dakar stage. The American finished 6'39" adrift, just ahead of compatriot Chris Blais (KTM n°9), at 8'24".

In the overall standing Marc Coma increases his lead. The Spaniard now has a 34'24" advantage on the French title holder Cyril Despres (KTM n°1) who struggled on this fast special, losing over 13' and the day's winner.

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) 9th (at 13'04) 2nd overall (at 34'24)
"The day was reasonably positive, even though my time was average. I regret having followed the openers modification notes at km 37. They said to go round a village and I tried two or three times but never found the route. Of course we were in a 50 kph speed limit zone so it took for ever to get back on track and in the meantime everybody else went past me. The going was quite technical and of course when I fell I fell on my injured shoulder. But while it is hard to ride with an injury I am feeling ok and not riding above myself. It could be worse. My injuries very nearly forced me to give up and I could be at home now watching it all on TV."

Michel Gau (Gauloises KTM) 22nd (at 36'45) 14th overall (at 6.37'13)
"It was a nice special today, quite tight and twisty and you could have fun sliding the rear end round the corners. And then going through the villages was amazing. Everybody was out cheering you on and chanting 'le rallye, le rallye'. The down side was the dust. I took the wrong track at about km 60 and there wasn't another note for 6 km so it took me a long time to realise my mistake. 20 riders must have gone past me in that time and it was very difficult to take them back. Then I crashed on a compression. I couldn't see anything in the dust and then I heard David (Casteu) calling my name. He had crashed at exactly the same place a couple of minutes before. His handle bar was broken but he seemed OK. I couldn't do anything for me and he so he told me to go on."

David Casteu (Gauloises KTM) 62nd (at 1.25'41) 10th overall (at 5.00'20)
"There was a 50 kph speed limit coming up and a lot of dust and I only saw the hole at the last minute. I tried to jump over it but my back wheel slammed into the other side and I went over the bars. I hurt my knee and the bike's right handlebar was broken clean off. I did the remaining 120 kms one handed and then, while the doctors were patching me up (at the end of the special), Euromaster's assistance sorted the bike out. I have played my joker and will now go quietly to Dakar."

In the cars victory went De Villiers with Saby second (at 5'33) with Alphand third (at 6'03). Jean-Louis Schlesser was 10th (at 18'26). Overall Peterhansel sees his lead over Alphand reduced to a still relatively comfortable 25'09 with De Villiers third (at 42'19). Schlesser is sixth (at 3.57'54). Thierry Magnaldi (Gauloises Schlesser Ford) started way back this morning after being repaired by his assistance truck on yesterday's special to finish 19th (at 34'51).Overall he is nevertheless 9th overall at 8.29'03.

Jean Louis Schlesser (Gauloises Schlesser Ford) 10th (at 18'25) 6th overall (at 3.57'54)
"Not too bad today, but we made the mistake of following the opener's notes. We tried to go round the villages as indicated and lost a load of time while everybody else went straight through. It was very frustrating."


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Series Dakar