With a sand storm ranging it was Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) who won the shortened special between Zouerat and Atar ahead of Ullevalseter, with David Casteu (Gauloises KTM) 3rd. Isidre Esteve (Gauloises KTM) was 5th with Frans Verhoeven...
With a sand storm ranging it was Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) who won the shortened special between Zouerat and Atar ahead of Ullevalseter, with David Casteu (Gauloises KTM) 3rd. Isidre Esteve (Gauloises KTM) was 5th with Frans Verhoeven (Gauloises KTM) 16th. Overall Marc Coma leads Esteve by 10'47 with Casteu 3rd (at 36'53), Despres 4th (at 44'56) and Verhoeven 10th (at 1.39'41).
Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) 1st and 4th overall (at 44'56)
"Another day that finished too early... I started back in 21st position and as I worked my way through the pack picked up more and more riders. At one point I looked round and they were in all sitting in a line behind me. With the wind blowing so strong there were no tracks to follow and the navigation wasn't that easy -- just the way I like it. And the sand was incredibly soft. Three times I got stuck -- instead of being able to accelerate off the top of the dunes your front wheel just dug in. Then with the visibility coming down and the helicopters unable to fly they stopped the race 140 km before the end. Obviously safety must take priority but it is a little frustrating for me as I could have pulled back maybe 20 minutes today. Now we have the rest day but to be honest I am not that tired -- I could happily go and 'eat' a bit more sand."
David Casteu (Gauloises KTM) 3rd (at 4'36) 3rd overall (at 36'53)
"Third at the rest day! If you'd said that to me a couple of years ago I would have called you a madman. It is a fantastic feeling."
"This morning there was a lot of navigation and a huge sand storm -- it was like the thick fog you can have in France in the depths of winter -- except the sand grains sting your face. With the visibility down I hit a few rocks hidden in the sand that I didn't see in time and played a couple of jokers."
Isidre Esteve (Gauloises KTM) 5th (at 11'02) 2nd overall (at 10'47)
"You have to respect the organisers' decision to cancel the special before the end... I caught Marc Coma 80 km after the start and then we took it in turns to open the piste. The sand was very soft -- it wasn't easy for us, so I think it will be very difficult for the cars. Now we will have a whole day to prepare ourselves for the rest of the rally -- I think it is going to be a very exciting race."
Frans Verhoeven (Gauloises KTM) 16th (at 40'18) 10th overall (at 1.39'41)
"Today was as bad as yesterday was good. My ICO wasn't working properly and I got lost for about 15 minutes and had to follow some slower riders to get to a waypoint. Then I got my rhythm back, until after refuelling when I saw Jordi (Viladoms) lying on the ground. It really turns your stomach when you see one of your friends injured."
Tomorrow all the remaining competitors on the 2007 Dakar can enjoy a well earned rest in Atar before tackling the second half of the race.