On this first day of the year, the organisers had chosen the Algarve region for the second timed sector of this 28th edition of the Dakar. A superb special stage, 115 km long (quite exceptional in Europe), where driving skills were vital. Like the...
On this first day of the year, the organisers had chosen the Algarve region for the second timed sector of this 28th edition of the Dakar. A superb special stage, 115 km long (quite exceptional in Europe), where driving skills were vital. Like the day before, the Portuguese spectators flocked to the side of the route.
Moreover, the sun was shining ! All the teams will board the ship from the Spanish port of Magala, and will spend the night on board, landing at Nador tomorrow, for the first African stage, heading for Err Rachidia.
Our six Nismo Challenge teams have completed their European mission, finishing the two Portuguese stages without problems.
Today, they were unanimously delighted in the route drawn up by the organization, and all of them respected the guidelines, being careful on such tricky terrain.
Christian Lavieille, very zen, set a gentle pace, taking no risks. Tobias Johansson had an extraordinary day. As a rally driver. the stage was cut out for him. The Swede overtook around twenty cars, whilst always keeping a margin for security.
The only incident involved Josep Roca, who had a puncture after hitting a stone. Nothing too serious, and the Andorran driver is still very positive.
They are now heading for Spain, which they will have to cross in order to reach Malaga. A nice excursion of our three Spanish drivers, Albert Bosch, Pep Busquets and Tony Manresa.
Once again, Krzysztof Holowczyc, in the Pickup 03, shone today, setting the 11th fastest time of the day. The Polish rally specialist found today's terrain suited him perfectly : "The stage was superb, and I really enjoyed myself. We caught up with Robby Gordon but it was impossible to pass him. Our front suspension is still not set up as we would like, but it will be OK. We're 13th overall, and that is quite nice ! "
Miguel Barbosa, in the Nissan X-Trail, is proceeding with clockwork precision. Twenty-third on today's stage, he is also 23rd overall : "The stage was very different from yesterday's, but really very pleasant. We overtook quite a few cars, and at 30 km from the finish, the brakes started to overheat. We preferred to lift off, and make sure we arrived safely. "
In T2, the performance of the day belonged to Benoît Rousselot and Sylvain Poncet in the Nissan Pathfinder who set the best time in their category, with their car back to its full competitiveness. Still in T2, Paul Belmondo/ Bernard Irissou and René Metge/Bernard Chevalier are continuing on their way.
Nothing special to note today. All the Team Dessoude cars are there, and in good positions.In the second Team Dessoude Nissan Pickup 03, the duo of Mitsuhashi and Dubois opted for prudence, like their team-mates. Jacky Dubois is rather satisfied with his pupil :" Jun drove well. He took care of things without excess and without taking any risks. He is very attentive of everything I tell hi. June appears to have had fun, despite everything, on this superb route. We had no problems with the car. Our only problem : the horn didn't work! Tomorrow, the serious business gets underway..."
Our two Team Zhengzhou Paladin cars opted for prudence, as they did yesterday. Xu Lang and Fabian Lurquin were careful. Xu drove well, at the right pace, while keeping a good margin for safety. Since last year's experience on the Dakar, he is much more mature. The Chinese driver has understood what the 'Dakar pace' is all about. Zhou Yong, not quite as fast as his team-mate, also put in a faultless route. Despite complaining of a lack of brakes in his Paladin, he nevertheless finished the special stage without problems.
Marc Blazquez, in the Nissan Pickup, in on form and appears relaxed : " Everything's fine ! The track was a real rally stage, with corners and ravines. Luckily, the road-book was quite precise, considering how many tricky sections there were. Now we're heading for Spain, which will be good for us. This year, we did not start from my home land, but I must admit that the Portuguese did a very good job. "
Kenjiro Shinozuka was smiling when he crossed the finish line. One of those days when the Japanese driver appears to have enjoyed himself... "There was a lot less mud than yesterday, which pleased me. The route was narrow and winding, but very pleasant to drive. I don't have a factory car, but I have a good feeling for the Pathfinder. " It should be noted that Kenjiro's co-driver, Roberto Di Persio, was not feeling too good on this winding stage, suffering from stomach problems... As for Andrej Ivanov, he finished the 115km in a good position, setting the 28th time.