Dakar: Nissan Dessoude stage seven report

ANDRE DESSOUDE'S JOURNAL 6th January 2006- Atar Plenty of emotion today for Team Nissan Dessoude. The special stage was particularly difficult and tricky between Zouerat and Atar. A true Dakar stage ... Andre Dessoude's report is a mix of ...

6th January 2006- Atar

Plenty of emotion today for Team Nissan Dessoude. The special stage was particularly difficult and tricky between Zouerat and Atar. A true Dakar stage ... Andre Dessoude's report is a mix of satisfaction and emotion.

"We have just had a very difficult stage, as we thought it would be. There were plenty of cars stuck in the sand, and hardly anyone avoided that problem. Despite losing an hour, Carlos Sousa managed a good result. Tenth in the stage, he is just outside the top ten in the overall classification.

Jun Mitsuhashi also did well, finishing the stage in 13th position. He has adapted well to sand, and Jacky is able to pass on all his experience. This tandem is working very well indeed.

Benoît Rousselot put in a very fine performance, to reclaim the lead of the Production category. He had a very good special stage, with just a slight clutch problem at the end. We hope that the next two stages, which both have plenty of sand, will allow him to pull away from his rivals.

Xu Lang's Paladin arrived at the bivouac with a seriously damaged front end, after a heavy frontal collision with a step in a dune. The damage is spectacular, but the car can be repaired. I hope this incident will calm him down a bit...

Miguel Barbosa, on his first Dakar, is learning quickly and well. Today, he is one of the rare drivers not to have got stuck. I am holding him back all the time, explaining that he should not take any account of the overall classification, and now, I think he has the right pace. If he continues like today, this Portuguese team should reach the finish.

Rene Metge is still his usual self, always smiling. He never complains about his car. Today, while reversing back down a slope, he landed right on top of a clump of camel grass. His co-driver Bernard Chevalier was rather stressed at the finish, as they got in very late, and he was in a hurry to send his report in to the Equipe newspaper.

As for the bad news of the day, it was the retirement of Paul Belmondo and Bernard Irissou. Just after the start, at the 17-km point, while they were driving at 140 km/h, the Nissan driven by Hungarian driver Sandor Kis cut through their path, sending them into a series of rolls. The car is a total write-off, and unfortunately, Bernard, who had the bad reflex to hold on to the rollbar, has had two fingers crushed. He was immediately evacuated to France, to be operated on in the best possible conditions "

They said...

Xu Lang/Fabian Lurquin -- Nissan Paladin T1" After CP2, there was a dune where plenty of cars had already got stuck. We decided to go 200 or 300 metres to the left, and I told Xu to accelerate fully.

Unfortunately, there was a big step in the rise, and we hit the front very hard. The radiator grille, the bumper, the radiator -- everything had been destroyed. I stemmed the leak, picked up the pieces and got going again.

Thanks to the two bikers who opened the route for us, over the last 70 kilometres, as it was dark and our headlights were gone"

Benoît Rousselot -- Nissan Pathfinder T2 "For a week, we've been waiting for this day... You had to be ready, both physically and mentally. On the physical side, since the start of the rally, I've favoured a rhythm which favours sleep. Whenever possible, I try to sleep ten hours a night. I go to bed at around 20:30 ... like the chickens, but it is really important to recover as well as possible.

We put in a good race today, with a sustained pace, but in intelligent fashion. We took the time to stop when it was necessary, to listen to our car, or to think. A few second lost can avoid hours of problems. The sand was very soft, but we only got stuck twice. In total, we lost eight minutes. The car was going well, and we only had to take care of a bit of overheating. Nevertheless, we kept cool throughout the route, and it paid off. Sylvain put in a super job, he navigated perfectly. Our main aim was to make sure the car was OK. This evening, I'm a bit tired, but that is most probably the tension and the continual concentration in today's tricky sections, and most specifically crossing the ergs. A good night's sleep will sort all that out..."

Jun Mitsuhashi /Jacky Dubois Nissan Pickup T1 : " At the start, we had a few navigational problems. Then we drove well, getting stuck in the sand four or five times, but nothing too serious, losing a minimum of time on each occasion. I am very pleased with our tyre choice, which proved essential. I hope we will have as much success in the next stages. I am really pleased with my collaboration with Jacky Dubois, he is really an excellent navigator. "

Carlos Sousa -- Nissan Navara T1" Globally, the day was satisfactory, despite a bit of time lost in the dunes. We didn't deflate the tyres in the first chains of dunes, but 5 km from the end, the car was overheating a bit, and we stopped to deflate them, and to carry on with a bit less force.

We were on a slope, and I went into reverse without seeing that there were large clumps of camel grass behind us. The car stopped between the two clumps, in a difficult position, and we couldn't put down the jacks or the plaques. We had to dig ourselves out, and we lost around 55 minutes. It was really a stupid mistake on my behalf, and I am sorry for the whole Team, who put in an excellent job. Apart from that, the car was working very well. It is very efficient over this sort of ground. I hope that the next two stages will allow us to further improve our position. It's only default is a lack of topspeed. Yesterday, there was a long, very fast, section in the middle of the stage, and both the BMWs and the Schlesser buggys literally left us standing. It was really impossible to follow them.

Today, we are right in the middle of the Dakar, and fatigue is beginning to set in, which is most probably why I was a bit inattentive. When we got stuck, I suddenly felt shattered, and it took me a few minutes to sort myself out.

Now, our position is clear : to hope to make any further progress in the overall classification, we will have to cross the next dune stages without difficulties, and to hope that our rivals have problems ... "

-nissan dessoude-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sousa , Jacky Dubois , René Metge , Paul Belmondo , Jun Mitsuhashi , Bernard Chevalier , Bernard Irissou , Fabian Lurquin , Xu Lang , Benoit Rousselot , Miguel Barbosa , André Dessoude