Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage seven report

In the bikes the longest special of the rallye once again went to Richard Sainct, with Meoni at 1'30 and Roma at 5'30. Despres was 4th at 5'35 with Alfie Cox paying the price for yesterday's win by finishing at 8'18. Overall the top five are now...

In the bikes the longest special of the rallye once again went to Richard Sainct, with Meoni at 1'30 and Roma at 5'30. Despres was 4th at 5'35 with Alfie Cox paying the price for yesterday's win by finishing at 8'18.

Overall the top five are now pulling away from the pack with Sainct leading Meoni by 1'47, Roma by 5'47, Despres by 9'58 and Cox by 11'51. Behind them 6th placed rider Giovanni Sala trails Richard by more than 40 minutes. In the cars Stephane Peterhansel won by a significant margin over his Mitsubishi team mate Masuoka (11'32) with Vatanen 3rd. The remaining Gauloises Schlesser Ford buggy of Josep Maria Servia was 13th at 51'05. Overall Peterhansel leads Masuoka by 12'21 with Shinozuka a way back in 3rd at 51'20. Servia is currently 12th at 2h07'09. Jean-Louis Schlesser, who retired on yesterday's special has gone on to tomorrow's bivouac in Sabha. In the truck race, the main event of the day was Loprais' crash, forcing him to quit the rally and De Rooy's suspension problems. Meanwhile son Gerardus claimed the win to become the new overall leader.

Motorcycles:

Richard Sainct (Gauloises KTM) 1st in 5h49'52
"Today's special was tiring and quite tricky. Coming from behind I spent much of the day in the dust and couldn't always see where I was putting my wheels. Despite racing over 584 km of special I only pulled out a little over a minute. Don't confuse riding together with taking it easy. Of course we are keeping a small margin, because we know that if we fall we risk losing everything. Nevertheless we are still riding very hard."

Fabrizio Meoni (Gauloises KTM) 2nd at 1'30
"Today I had to make sure I didn't wear out my tyre. The Dakar is always won with the head not the heart. There is no point riding like a manic so that everybody else can just follow. I'm the oldest so normally it should be me that waits for the others to make a mistake!

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) 4th at 5'35
"Not a great special. There are specials on which you can attack and there are specials where you can enjoy the scenery. And then there are specials that just wear out man and machine. Apart from 40 km of fantastic dunes, today's special fell into the last category. It wasn't technically difficult -- just long and dusty. I caught up with Nani and Alfie at about km 120 and eventually we were joined by Fabrizio and Richard. In conceding 3rd place today by just 5 seconds I should gain 2 minutes tomorrow.

Alfie Cox (Gauloises KTM) 5th at 8'18
"Of the 600 kms 50 where beautiful dunes -- the rest wasn't much fun. You know that there will be a moment or a day when the whole thing will be decided. I remember the first Dakar I ever did Peterhansel won the rallye on just one special. Last year Nani lost it right at the end with one navigation error. You know it will happen -- the problem is you never know when!

Jean Brucy (Gauloises KTM) 7th at 13'20
"At last a real Dakar special. Over the first 300 km I ate a lot of dust but by refuelling I was up to 10th and things improved a little. Looking around I don't think there will be too much work for me on this particular marathon stage.

Giovanni Sala (Gauloises KTM) 8th at 13'59
"Everything was fine -- no problem with the rear tyre. It was just a pity to see such fantastic dunes and not be able to stop and play in them."

Miran Stanovnik (KTM) 14th at 32'09
"It was fast today with a lot of dust. The problem with the dust is that it makes it very difficult to overtake. Sometimes you have to sit behind someone for over 100 km before you get a chance to get by. The problem with the speed is that you don't know how much you can attack before you damage your bib mousse. You only know when have damaged it when it is too late!"

Eric Verhoef (KTM) 19th at 54'08
"Late last night the organisers came to see me to tell me that my distress beacon had gone off all by itself! Then this morning when I got to the start they told me it had gone off again and that I had to go back to the bivouac. The problem was that by the time I got back to the bivouac the people who look after the distress beacons had already left. Fortunately Anne-Marie (the competitor relations officer) gave me one from a competitor who had retired. Then I went back to the start again and they gave me a new start time. By the time I finally started the special I was among the back markers. You wouldn't believe the amount of dust a quad can kick up!"

Cars:

Josep Maria Servia (Gauloises Schlesser Ford) 13th a 51'05
"Not a great special. We didn't get stuck anywhere and had no problems in the dunes but there was a lot of dust and you couldn't overtake. Jean Louis arrived at Ghadames in the middle of the night and then left for Sabha (tomorrow's bivouac -- today's stage to Ghat is a marathon stage and only competitors can access it). We have just arrived and haven't had a close look but I don't think there is much to do on the car, just dust it down and fill it up with petrol."

Trucks:

Jan De Rooy (Gauloises De Rooy) 6th at 1h59'18''
De Rooy turn to wreck three suspensions on a jump. The Dutchman was still expected on the bivouac at 18h00.

Gerard De Rooy (Gauloises De Rooy) 1st in 6h15'46''
"I was following my father just after CP1. He went straight on and I went right and saved time. At one point our truck left the ground by 3 metres and we have some suspension damage. Apparently my father also broke three shock absorbers landing off a jump. Now we have a very slim lead over Tchaguine."

-gr-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Jean-Louis Schlesser , Stéphane Peterhansel , Jean Brucy , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Richard Sainct , Giovanni Sala , Miran Stanovnik , Eric Verhoef