Course with obstacles through Mali's bush land Alfie Cox couldn't believe it. He was pissed off when he arrived at the finish in Kayes. Today he couldn't find his rhythm. "There was one speed trap behind the other," he claimed, "I constantly had...
Course with obstacles through Mali's bush land
Alfie Cox couldn't believe it. He was pissed off when he arrived at the finish in Kayes. Today he couldn't find his rhythm. "There was one speed trap behind the other," he claimed, "I constantly had to reduce speed so I wouldn't receive any penalties. There was no fun in it." The desert fox wasn't alone with this opinion. Many of the others thought alike, for example Chris Blais. Although he was more than satisfied about his 3rd place, he nevertheless was mad about having to use his brakes all the time. "I actually counted 30 speed traps today. We did pass through many villages, but that was just too much. Accelerating and braking, accelerating and braking -- continuously. It was really difficult to find a satisfying rhythm."
The Australian Andy Caldecott claimed the best result today. But he too had to overcome an obstacle, a typical one for this country. "I hit a cow in its rear. Luckily I was just tumbling a little. I hope the cow is doing well, too." Caldecott clinched his second stage win today." At the beginning I was pacing along," he claimed, "After the accident with the cow I reduced the speed a little. I didn't want to risk too much. In all it was good that we had a day to rest yesterday. I must say, I was able to really concentrate on the track today."
Marc Coma was feeling similar. "Bit by bit I'm getting back into the racing. The stage required a lot of attention," he explained, "I had to sternly concentrate on my road book; there was no time for other thoughts today." Coma started in the first position this morning. He led the pack from the start until the finish. "To start off in first position this morning took a lot of effort. But everything went well and I was making good pace. The only trouble was the many animals on the track -- this was dangerous."
Cyril Despres had to endure a different moment of shock. "I overlooked a large rock on the ground and my exhaust crashed. Afterwards the exhaust pipe was squashed. I needed a few minutes to repair the damage. I bent the exhaust with pliers until the fumes could escape again. Afterwards I continued riding a bit more careful."
However, Cyril was fast enough to hold on to the overall leadership. He has a 16'06 minute lead on Marc Coma. But the Spaniard has not yet given up his hopes for the victory. "Tomorrow will be another long day. Many things might happen," supposed Coma, "But if Cyril continues at the same pace it will become more and more difficult to overtake him." Alfie Cox is third overall. Him and Isidre Esteve Pujol battle for a place on the podium. Isidre is only about half a minute off the pace.
Thousands of kilometers away from Kayes a group of people assembled to mourn for Fabrizio Meoni. The double Dakar champion was buried in his hometown Castiglion Fiorentino this afternoon. Stefan Pierer, head of KTM, and Heinz Kinigadner, head of sports at KTM, represented KTM at the funeral and paid their last respects to Fabrizio.
Tomorrow the final spurt begins. The route leads towards Senegal, to Tambacounda. The race is on for 529 km. It is the last long stage in this year's Dakar. It leads through a savannah landscape. The competitors will have to cross through several rivers. And again there will be numerous villages along the way.
The competitors have left behind the sand and the dunes. Today's special had a totally different character. At first a firm track allowed to ride at a brisk pace. Then it became necessary to properly navigate on twisty trails through the Malian bush land and to find an appropriate riding rhythm through the bizarre Tambaoura mountain scenery.
The Australian Andy Caldecott (Team KTM Motorex Australia) clinched today's stage. He was fastest on the 370 km special and clocked a time at 3 hours 51'41 minutes. He beat Yamaha pilot David Fretigné by 2'16 minutes. Chris Blais, the young American from Team KTM Red Bull USA, was third at 3'32 minutes.
Cyril Despres, who claimed a 7th spot today, was able to keep the overall leadership. Another 93 km are still ahead of the competitors until they reach the bivouac at Kayes.
At the same time Fabrizio Meoni's casket is buried in his hometown. Stefan
Pierer, head of KTM, and Heinz Kinigadner, head of sports, represent the
company at the funeral of the great Italian sportsman.