Giniel de Villiers plays it carefully and sets third-fastest time on the 12th stage Giniel de Villiers and Jean Marie Lurquin are continuing their journey towards Dakar in a regular and consistent fashion. Setting the third-fastest time on the...
Giniel de Villiers plays it carefully and sets third-fastest time on the 12th stage
Giniel de Villiers and Jean Marie Lurquin are continuing their journey towards Dakar in a regular and consistent fashion. Setting the third-fastest time on the timed sector between Bamako and Kayes, the Nissan Pickup stayed close behind the leaders. Ari Vatanen had a broken differential, and had to finish the stage in two-wheel drive. Nevertheless, he set the 9th time... A bit more information on Bamako, and the marathon stage that never really was. The Dakar organisers had put an air bridge into operation between Kiffa and Bamako for the bikers. After the fatal accident which befell Fabrizio Meoni, the two-wheeled competitors had requested a break in the race, and asked for the stage to be cancelled. For the cars, there were no changes, except that the decision was taken to cancel the Parc Fermé. The competitors were therefore allowed to work on their cars themselves, or with the aide of other competitors. The reasons given were a lack of personnel to ensure the supervision of the Parc Fermé. Reasons which do not seem to have been well-founded, and which left a slightly bitter taste for Nissan, as Jutta Kleinschmidt, who is Giniel de Villiers' direct rival for the podium, had hit a cow and needed to change her rear transmission. Gilles Martineau, the Nissan Rally Raid Team Tea, Manager, explained his disappointment : " I do not have any complaints about the change of transmission on Jutta' s car. The repairs were carried out by her assistance team, who are still in the race. I am simply rather sad that the rules of the game were changed mid-event for no apparent good reasons."
On today' s stage, from the start of the stage until the Manantali dam, the laterite track was quite wide and fast. During the next 150 km, the track grew narrower, turning into a mere path through the brush. The finish took place at Sadiola, a little Mali town known for its open-cast gold mine.
A stage win yesterday and third-fastest today. Giniel de Villiers played it safe: "Today' s stage was quite bad due to the dust. We had a bit of a scare when we let Stéphane Peterhansel pass us, but all' s well that ends well... The stage was not particularly interesting on the sporting side. We were careful. The objective is to reach Dakar."
Despite this good result, Jean Marie Lurquin was not particularly enthusiastic : " Everything went well, but we did have a bit of a fright... Stéphane Peterhansel caught up with us and we let him go by. We went right to the edge of the road, but the car slid, and we found ourselves alongside the road, at an angle, near to a corner. I though we were going to roll over, but Giniel saved the situation perfectly, catching the Pickup and getting us back on the right road... The stage was not particularly interesting, we went from village to village, and there were people everywhere. As the bikes went shortly before us, we had them with us for the whole stage."
Ari Vatanen, who finished 9th, had a few problems. "This was not one of my favourite stages ! A lot of dips and holes. It was like a rocking horse ! Not very nice, and not good for the bike if you arrive too quickly... We drove carefully as we broke the front transmission shortly after the start. We were able to cope in two-wheel drive. You can feel that Dakar is not far away..."
Tiziano Siviero, like Jean Marie Lurquin, did not enjoy this rather bland stage : " Not much fun today. We broke the differential after 40 km and did the rest of the stage in two-wheel drive. It' s a good thing it happened today, as yesterday it would have been impossible to keep on going. The stage was rough and fast. But not much fun... "
Tomorrow, the rally will go into Sénégal, the final destination. The start of the special stage, 529 km between Kayes and Tambacounda, will take place in Sadiola (where today' s finish took place). The laterite track will take them through the savannah around Satadougou. The rally will then cross the Falémé river, a place full of memories for the older rally competitors. Tambacounda is not far away. A first taste of Dakar...