Dakar: Nissan Dessoude stage 11 report

Carlos Sousa still in the race, 7th overall... The whole Dakar family is in mourning, after the death of Fabrizio Meoni earlier today. Whether on two wheels or four, all the rally raid competitors are weeping for the great champion, a double ...

Carlos Sousa still in the race, 7th overall...

The whole Dakar family is in mourning, after the death of Fabrizio Meoni earlier today. Whether on two wheels or four, all the rally raid competitors are weeping for the great champion, a double winner of the event. Team Nissan France Dessoude would like to send its deepest condolences to his family, friends and to his team. But the race goes on. Carlos Sousa, who started a long way back this morning, finished the stage by setting the 10th time. Benoît Rousselot is still on the pace.

Around 21:30 yesterday evening, to the great relief of everyone in the Nissan Dessoude clan (who had enduring a trying day), Carlos Sousa and Thierry Delli Zotti finally arrived at the Atar bivouac. A crazy day for the Franco- Portuguese team.

However, Carlos Sousa remained calm and smiling : "We were going very well, first of all in front of Grégoire, who was playing the role of St Bernard. Then we lost sight of each other, most probably while going round a chain of sand-dunes. We were then behind them. And then the right front wheel bearing gave way. Immobilised alongside the road, we learnt of Grégoire's accident. Thierry reacted very quickly. Thanks to him, we are still in the race this evening..."

Thierry Delli Zotti did not want to just wait around for the assistance truck to arrive, which was likely to take some time : "We knew where Grégoire had his accident. We were around 80 km from there. However, we did not know exactly how they were doing. Near us, on the trail, there was a 4x4 car with some tourists. I went with them towards Grégoire's car. When we got there, it was quite difficult to remain unemotional. On a personal level, it brought back memories of my accident with Kenjiro in 2003. I took the parts I needed from the wreckage which would allow us to get going again. Another 80 km to get back to our car, time to repair, and then we started on our way back at the bivouac. I am very relieved to know that Grégoire was not seriously hurt, and it did me a lot of good to see Jacky in one piece. From a sporting point of view, it is a disappointment, as we were running a careful race, but the Dakar will always be the Dakar."

The start was given relatively late for the nr 315 Pickup this morning. But this handicap did not prevent Carlos Sousa from setting the tenth-fastest time in the special stage between Atar and Kiffa. The team has retained its seventh place in the overall classification. However, after the end of the timed sector, the duo suffered a water leak. Benoît Rousselot took the Pickup in tow in order to reach the bivouac. They are currently in the liaison section between the end of the stage and Kiffa. Kilometres which will have to be negotiated carefully during the night.

Like yesterday, Benoît Rousselot had a good stage, setting the 24th time.

Tomorrow will see the second marathon stage, which will take the competitors into Mali. The competitors will reach Bamako yesterday. The start of Sahelian Africa. New scenery, with new difficulties. As soon as they arrive in the Mali capital city, the vehicles will be placed in Parc Fermé. Tonight, the mechanics will be working very late...

-nissan france-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sousa , Benoit Rousselot