Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage 16 report

In the bikes victory on the special went to Cyril Despres, 2'35 ahead of Richard Sainct, with Coma third (at 6'20) and Meoni 4th at (6'51). Overall there are no changes with an all 'Blue' top 4 led by Richard Sainct, 7'54 ahead of Despres, with ...

In the bikes victory on the special went to Cyril Despres, 2'35 ahead of Richard Sainct, with Coma third (at 6'20) and Meoni 4th at (6'51). Overall there are no changes with an all 'Blue' top 4 led by Richard Sainct, 7'54 ahead of Despres, with Meoni 3rd at 38'14 and Brucy 4th at 1h29'54.

Richard Sainct.
Photo by Gauloises Racing.

In the cars there was high last minute drama when Peterhansel run into big trouble -- first with a holed radiator and then with destroyed front left suspension. He finally finished 40th and plunged down to 4th overall. However with Biasion breaking down with gearbox problems at the end of the liaison and receiving 10 hours of penalties Peterhansel regained a potential podium finish in extremis and is now classified third behind Fontenay. In the trucks the special once again went to Kabirov ahead of De Azevedo (at 32'34) and De Rooy (at 39'54). Overall however there is no change with Tchaguine still leading 1h01'50 up on De Azevedo and 1h25'33 on Kabirov.

Motorcycles:

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) 1st in 4h52'19
"Wow -- for a moment there, with everybody taking the wrong fork, I thought there might be a means of taking the overall lead. I quickly realised it hadn't happened, but it was a nice feeling all the same. A little bit like Cindy Crawford winking at you and then disappearing into the crowd. I'm glad that the race is coming to an end. I'm starting to feel fatigued and my lack of pre-rallye fitness is starting to show. It was a long today. Obviously we started very early and the trials like going in the special did nothing to help."

Richard Sainct (Gauloises KTM) 2nd at 2'35
"Just at the start of the fork where everybody else went wrong I saw Coma coming back -- so I didn't lose any time there. About 5 km before that though I did take a wrong turning. Fortunately I realised my mistake quickly and only added a couple of kilometres to my day. Regarding the rallye overall, obviously Meoni's mechanical problems and Roma's crash have made my life easier. That said, in a way, if I win tomorrow it will probably my most satisfying victory. This time we were all on equal machinery and their was no favouritism. I think now also I'm a better rider. To win this rallye you need to be the most complete package possible -- a good rider, a good navigator. Above all you need experience. In rallye-raid you never stop learning."

Fabrizio Meoni (Gauloises KTM) 4th at 6'51
"It was a tough day today riding the V-twin over the rocks. The navigation wasn't easy either. Just after Lundmark overtook me he took a wrong turning and I followed him for a while until I realised that we were on the wrong track. Even though I have struggled today, over the whole rallye I prefer the LC8 to the mono. On a day like this I can just about stay with the LC4s, maybe they can take a couple of minutes off me, but that is all. However, on a fast day, if I really decide to attack, nobody can stay with me. It is interesting that this year my younger rivals have ridden this race like men of 45, while I have ridden it like a young lad of 25!

Jean Brucy (Gauloises KTM) 8th at 19'23
"I started this morning a little sleepy but the rocks and the navigation soon woke me up. If I didn't know him better I would say that Zaniroli didn't put every fork in the road book on purpose! No wonder he didn't want to do a briefing this evening! This is my 14th Dakar and I'd say that today's special has to be among the 5 most difficult."

Giovanni Sala (Gauloises KTM) 13th at 41'25
"It is a hard life! Today was really tough on the V-twin -- many passes and a lot of dust. 40 km from the end I was literally pushing the bike over the rocks. When you are a long way down the leader board it can be difficult to motivate yourself. On a nice day in the dunes you can do it, but on a day like today it isn't so easy!"

Eric Verhoef (KTM) 17th at 1h06'07
"Today was the best stage of the rallye -- really technical with a lot of navigation. My front mousse went early on in the special and I had to do 200 km with a flat but cos I took care with the navigation I still finished 17th."

Miran Stanovnik (KTM) 24th 1h27'19
"I had another big crash today -- only my left leg isn't hurting. After that I crashed about 5 times because I couldn't ride properly. It really hurt when I had pick the bike up. A hard day today."

-gr-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Jean Brucy , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Richard Sainct , Giovanni Sala , Miran Stanovnik , Eric Verhoef