Siwa at last. Today's special stage, which took the competitors through into Egypt, was entirely off-road. Ergs as far as the horizon, with cathedral dunes, which can be up to 100 metres high. Generally, the sand was not too soft, with just a...
Siwa at last.
Today's special stage, which took the competitors through into Egypt, was entirely off-road. Ergs as far as the horizon, with cathedral dunes, which can be up to 100 metres high. Generally, the sand was not too soft, with just a few difficult descents. At the end of the 438 km special stage, the competitors left Libya and moved into Egypt for the first of three nights at the Siwa bivouac. A well-deserved rest ... Many VIP guests, from Europe or as far as Japan, have travelled to the bivouac to share this day with the teams and drivers.
The Pickups went well through today's special stage, with Vatenen setting the 5th time, De Villiers finishing 7th and De Lavergne setting the 11th time. Vatenen and De Villiers both gained a place in the overall classification, while De Lavergne gained four. Today was yet again an emotional day. After yesterday's fatal accident, there was an incident on the border between Libya and Egypt today, when a mine exploded under a truck. Luckily, no-one was hurt, but the race was halted, and many of the vehicles were very late reaching the bivouac.
Nissan was able to look back on the day with serenity. Thierry de Lavergne continues to progress up the classification, gaining four places this evening : " We drove well today. A fast stage, but we did not have enough power, and our top speed was too low. Giniel overtook me during the stage, and was able to pull away. I was a bit bothered by that, but, all in all, the car is going well. "
Giniel de Villiers also had a good day, without any punctures : " It wasn't bad today, we went well and I felt more at ease. Fast sections and dunes. I feel that I am getting better at crossing them. Ari was only three minutes behind Peterhansel, and I was three minutes behind Ari. The differences are not huge. A positive day, which has allowed me to gain confidence..."
Ari Vatanen, however, was not on top form : " Today's special was relatively easy, but I froze slightly on the dunes. I was not looking for any exploits today. There is no point in taking major risks in our situation. Every time we crossed a dune, I couldn't help thinking of Shino and of the competitor who lost his life yesterday. That event really left a deep impression on me. I preferred to go carefully. A rest day tomorrow ... It's not as good as at Agad?s (of which I have wonderful memories) but I will try to rest nonetheless... "
In the Production category, Paul Belmondo set the 22nd fastest time today, and is now 19th overall : " As we had some worries over the past two days, we drove quite calmly today, trying to maintain position. There have been quite a lot of problems, and it would be disappointing to retire just before the rest day... For the moment, Strugo is well ahead, and it will be difficult to catch him, as he is going too quickly for us... "
As for Yves Loubet, who set the 20th time, things are getting better : " This is the second time we have arrived before dark... and there is never two without three, as the saying goes... I hope that our problems are over ! I am looking forward to getting back on the special stages that I drove in September last year, during the Rally of Egypt, but I am very much aware that we will have to take care of the car. "
Tomorrow will therefore be devoted to rest, relaxation ... and to giving interviews to the many journalists who will travel to Siwa for the day. It will also be an opportunity to service the cars before the final days of the rally, when the Dakar caravan will head towards the Red Sea and Sharm el Sheikh...