Today's leg... The saying goes that the results are usually set before crossing into Senegal. However, this year it appears not to be the case, as proved by the motorbike category this year, where the race leader, Marc Coma, had a heavy fall...
The saying goes that the results are usually set before crossing into Senegal. However, this year it appears not to be the case, as proved by the motorbike category this year, where the race leader, Marc Coma, had a heavy fall while the race appeared to be won... So it is difficult to give any certainties before arriving at the Rose Lake. That is what Jean Pierre Strugo must be telling himself, having gained seven minutes on Jun Mitsuhashi , the leading T2 car. However, it is not enough to win the race on time alone, with just two special st ages before the finish line, but things could still change.
As far as the Proto cars were concerned, Miguel Barbosa put in a fine performance today, setting the ninth-fastest time, while Yvan Muller slowed his pace due to René Metge's back problems.
This stage, which was not easy for the drivers, did not give any problems to the navigators. The traditional village crossings, which can give plenty of headaches due to the number of parallel roads on leaving the villages, were marked today, for the safety of the local population.
The relatively technical track delighted the drivers who enjoy this sort of exercise. On these laterite tracks, with slippery edges, the most difficult thing is to manage to stay on them. To see Tambacounda, it was necessary to slow down and find the right speeds to wind through the baobabs.
Between Tam bacounda and Dakar, there could still be some action... Over the 277-km special stage, there are plenty of potential traps in store for the survivors of this 29th Dakar. But in order to reach the Senegal capital city, it will be necessary to find the right pace and look after the cars over the last few kilometres.
What the drivers and co-drivers said...
Jean-Pierre Strugo -- Nissan Pathfinder T2 "The stage was fun, hazards, fast sections and winding. We drove at our pace, without pushing in case our main rival (Jun Mitsuhashi) had a problem... but that didn't happen. The efforts made for safety on the routes has been excellent. It is a really good idea to educate the population, it brings along a real change in the way the event is perceived, and that is good. By avoiding villages, the rally does not impose itself on the population. Those who want to see it can come, while those who are not interested do not have their daily lives disturbed."
Paul Belmondo -- Nissan Pathfinder T2 "Dust, dust and more dust... that was today's theme. It took us 60 km to overtake the first truck. In terms of nervous energy, this sort of stage is exhausting."
Guy Leneveu --Paul Belmondo's co-driver -- Nissan Pathfinder T2 "Our whole race took place in the dust. Over the 259 km special stage, we drove 220 km blind behind trucks or slower cars. We managed to overtake seven cars, but it was awful! It is extremely dangerous to attack in those conditions. We did a bit of clearing on the way by flattening two trees, not while attacking, but while making our way through the dust, which broke our windscreen. It's not much fun to drive like that."
Yvan Muller -- Proto Dessoude "After yesterday's jump, and René's back problems, we decided to take things very quietly. There was no point making the situation worse. The route was still quite nice."
Miguel Barbosa -- Proto Dessoude "I am satisfied with our time today. Moreover, I had fun... it was a bit like Portugal. Not the scenery, but the sort of terrain. There was a fast section in the middle of the special stage full of pot-holes, and the road book was rather imprecise about that. But I'm still smiling, the car was perfect!"