Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage 7 report

The 1005 km stage from Tan Tan in Morocco to Atar in Mauritania took its toll among the factory riders. Yesterday's overall leader Esteve Pujol crashed heavily and wiped out his navigation equipment, while yesterday's second place man Fabrizio...

The 1005 km stage from Tan Tan in Morocco to Atar in Mauritania took its toll among the factory riders. Yesterday's overall leader Esteve Pujol crashed heavily and wiped out his navigation equipment, while yesterday's second place man Fabrizio Meoni melted his bib mousse.

Australian 'hard man' Andy Caldecott also crashed, breaking his ankle, but nevertheless managed to ride into the bivouac! On target for victory Jean Brucy crashed in the last sand dune, 120 km from the end, allowing the injured Richard Sainct to take the victory ahead of his water carrier, with Cyril Despres third. Overall Despres profits from his rivals' misadventures to take the overall lead with Roma second (at 3'03) and Sainct third at 3'21.

Richard Sainct (Gauloises KTM France) 1st (in 6h39'33) 3rd overall (at 3'21)

"Thankfully it was much sandier today, which meant that I got less shock through the handlebars, which in turn helped my arm. The only problem now is that my back is hurting as I have been compensating for my injury. To be honest I thought Fabrizio would win. Now I'm back in the race after three days of hanging on. I just hope that I haven't used up my reserves in the process and won't pay for the effort I have made in the days to come."

Jean Brucy (Gauloises KTM France) 2nd (at 7'07) 5th overall (at 11'26)

"I followed Richard and Cyril all day which meant that I was on target to win the special. Then about 120 km from the finish, in the last of the dunes, I could feel my feet getting wet, which alerted me to the fact that one of my fuel pipes had come adrift. By the time I fixed the problem I had lost contact with the others. It was while trying to catch them up that I crashed."

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM France) 3rd (at 8'33) 1st overall (in 15h23'30)

"The day started pretty badly for me - it just goes to show that anything can happen on this race. At about km 130 I lost the piste and spent 25 km off the track, slaloming through the camel grass trying to get back on to the road book. It meant that I went through CP1 in about 10th place. Then at about km 350 I came across Esteve Pujol and stopped briefly to check he was OK. At around km 450 Richard, Fabrizio, Alfie and Jean caught me up and we chased after Caldecott's dust. I'd say today was one of the hardest I've ever done, but for me what began badly finished well for me. It is funny; as I was riding along I couldn't help thinking how much the privateers were going to suffer. I reckon half of them will go out today."

Alfie Cox (Gauloises KTM International) 4th (at 9'00) 5th overall (at 5'01)

"That was one tough day. I came across Andy Caldecott with his broken ankle. Esteve Pujol and Jean Brucy had big crashes as well. The soft sand over the last 150 km are going to be virtually impossible at night and I can see an awful lot of privateers going out."

CARS

Jean Louis Schlesser (Gauloises Schlesser Buggy) 3rd (at 20'58) 5th overall (at 48'04)

"I picked up a slow puncture on the rear right tyre but I decided to continue using the inflation system rather than stop and change the wheel. Then distracted by that we got stuck on a dune. Jean Marie got out to push us off and then I drove around looking for a safe place to stop and pick him up again. Without all that I could have finished in third place overall so I'm not too happy with my day. I'm surprised to hear that Jose has a problem with his water pump -- we have never had that before."

-gr-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Jean-Louis Schlesser , Jean Brucy , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Richard Sainct , Andy Caldecott