Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage three report

After the yesterday's long 900 km liaison from Barcelona to Grenada the competitors tackled the second and last European special of this 27th Dakar -- 10 km on a patch of military ground just outside the town. Starting in reverse order of the ...

After the yesterday's long 900 km liaison from Barcelona to Grenada the competitors tackled the second and last European special of this 27th Dakar -- 10 km on a patch of military ground just outside the town.

Starting in reverse order of the first special, victory in the bikes class once again went to David Fretigne (Gauloises Yamaha) -- the Frenchman taking full advantage of his 'little' 450 over the tight going. Second was compatriot Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) with team mate Alfie Cox (Gauloises KTM) third -- the South African apparently not suffering too badly from the shoulder he hurt back in Barcelona.

David Fretigne (Gauloises Yamaha) 1st (1st overall in 12'08)

I'm happy with the result but I'm not getting carried away -- what I want now is to get to Africa. My 'secret' dream is to finish on the podium at Lac Rose and if I can place in the Top 10 on every special it should be possible.

Alfie Cox (Gauloises KTM) 2nd at 00'02 (22nd overall at 1'41)

I'm very happy 'cos my shoulder is getting better and better. Yesterday it was really hurting after the long liaison and I had to take some pain killers but now it is not too bad. It gives me hope for the rest of the rallye.

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) 3rd at 00'03 (2nd overall at 00'11)

It is a pleasure to start the new year in the sunshine with such a good special. And it felt good to open the throttle after 900 kilometres of motorway! So far we have had sand in Barcelona and now 'earth' in Grenada -- a good foretaste of Africa and the range of going we will experience there.

Fabrizio Meoni (Gauloises KTM) 9th at 00'20 (4th overall at 00'50)

As everybody knows I am not so fast over this kind of going so I'm happy with my result -- what was important for me was not to start too far behind tomorrow and get stuck in 'traffic'.

In the cars victory went to ex-rally champion Colin McRae, the Briton finishing 00'06 ahead of Peterhansel, with the veteran Finn Ari Vatanen third at 00'10. Hampered by the dust Jean-Louis Schlesser (Gauloises Schlesser Buggy) finished 20th (at 1'01) while, with an earlier start, team mate Jose Maria Servia finished in 11th place (at 00'32). In T1 victory went to Thomasse, with Asaga second and Jean Pierre Strugo (Team Gauloises Groine) third. Strugo's team mate Simon Jean Joseph continues his apprenticeship and today finished 119th and 25th T1. Thierry Delavergne placed 26th in his brand new 4x4 buggy.

Jean Louis Schlesser (Gauloises Schlesser Buggy)

It was really dusty and to do a good time here today you needed an early start -- which unfortunately we didn't have. Still the car is going well and I'm looking for to getting to Africa.

On completing the special all the competitors headed for the port of Algeciras to catch the boat to Africa and their final destination, Rabat

Tomorrow the 'real' race gets under way with a 666 km stage from Rabat to Agadir -- 123 km of which is special.

-gr-

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Series Dakar