Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage 12 report

In terribly sad conditions after the news from the previous days, the Telefonica Dakar 2005 rally carried on its road to the Lac Rose, entering its fourth country, Mali. No bike race today but an air lift to Bamako for the shocked bikers while the...

In terribly sad conditions after the news from the previous days, the Telefonica Dakar 2005 rally carried on its road to the Lac Rose, entering its fourth country, Mali. No bike race today but an air lift to Bamako for the shocked bikers while the cars and trucks took off with a black scarf on their rear view mirrors in homage to Meoni. The special was won by Giniel De Villiers.

Traditionally, when the Dakar enters Mali, it often appears like the last step to Promised Land, a new phase and a first taste of the upcoming finish line in Dakar. The first kilometres in black Africa today were however very painful. On the race course for the cars and trucks or in the planes taking the bikers, devastated after the terrible news from the previous days. Indeed the riders had requested not to compete on the day's long 819km stage. A painful day for everyone on the Dakar! But despite the terrible absence of Fabrizio Meoni on this 12th stage, the race went on, exactly like the Italian would have wanted it to. The bikers gathered on the tarmac of the Bamako airport were indeed well aware of that.

The car race took of under the cloudy skies of Mauritania and the conditions remained the same all the way to the Mali capital. Comfortably in the leading two places of the overall, the Mitsubishi vehicles of Peterhansel and Alphand started nice and easily, going full speed when necessary and eventually catching and passing their closest rival Jutta Kleinschmidt (VW) who had taken off in first spot of the special. But the fastest on the sandy portion to CP1 (km 151) was Giniel De Villiers (fifth to start in his Nissan Pickup) with a tiny 4" advantage on 'Peter'. The South African carried on his fast rhythm, adding precious time to his advance (1'55 on Saby and 3'42 on Peterhansel).

At CP3, he had done even better, flying to his first win on this 27th edition (Nissans third after the two won by McRae). De Villiers crossed the finish line with a 3'01 lead on Stephane Peterhansel and 6'27 on Luc Alphand.Already a winner of the Castellon stage last year, the Nissan driver remains well over 4h adrift, while Jutta Kleinschmidt who had to deal with a problem on rear wheels finished the stage over 13' adrift is still third overall but now has a 1h18 deficit on the race leader Stephane Peterhansel.

Meanwhile, it was a tough day for Robby Gordon (VW) who damaged his shock absorbers after only 100kms and lost over 2h30 on the day. Josep Maria Servia also had a fright when he hit a tree at km 511 (not the slightest injury) and had to ask for the assistance of another competitor to help him get back on the special.

In the truck race, after suffering mechanical problems and race incidents since the start of the rally, Gerard De Rooy (DAF) clinched his first special victory in Bamako on this 27th edition. The Dutchman beat overall leader Firdaus Kabirov by 5'17''.

BIKES

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM)

If I succeeded in making the transition from mechanic to professional rider it is largely thanks to Richard and Fabrizio. I think about all the specials during which I followed them and tried to understand how they managed to go so quickly. Fabrizio was my friend and my master and I had the impression that he was happy to see pick up his baton. I hope to be a good student.

Alfie Cox (Gauloises KTM)

When something like this happens your first thoughts are for the family -- what they must be going through now I can only begin to imagine. Inevitably after that your thoughts turn to your own family. It suddenly comes home to you the stress you cause them everyday when you are out having fun on the piste. And of course it makes you realise how much your own family means to you, how lucky you are to have them.

Jean Brucy (Gauloises KTM)

I woke up this morning and I said to myself, 'its not possible'. Then I went to breakfast and everybody was there except him and that was when it really hit me and I was forced to admit that Fabrizio died yesterday. It seems so unjust that this should happen so close to his retirement. It is difficult to find the words to express what you we are all feeling. I think it is important that we have this day without racing as a make of respect for Fabrizio, but also important that we continue to Dakar. When we started from Barcelona we said we wanted to put a blue bike on the podium for Richard, and now we will do so for him and for Fabrizio.

David Fretigne (Gauloises Yamaha)

I have only recently arrived on the rallye-raid scene, so obviously I didn't know Fabrizio as well as his team mates for example. But when I think of Fabrizio I think of a big man who invested 100% in motorcycle racing and gave the sport an excellent image. I also think of a man who said what he thought. I used to sit at home watching him on the TV and it was him above all that made me want to go to Africa.

CARS

JM Servia (Gauloises Schlesser) 11th at 45'49 - 16th overall at 21.53'52

TRUCKS

Jan De Rooy (Gauloises DAF) 3rd at 54'48 - 5th overall at 8.05'37

Gerard De Rooy (Gauloises DAF) 1st - 7th overall at 11.03'10

-gauloises-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Stéphane Peterhansel , Jean Brucy , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , David Fretigne , Firdaus Kabirov