Dakar: Nissan stage 13 report

Second stage victory for Ari Vatanen and the Nissan Pickup. A good day for Nissan...Ari Vatanen claimed his second stage win, and Giniel de Villiers finished in 3rd place. There were no changes in the overall classification, with Ari still in...

Second stage victory for Ari Vatanen and the Nissan Pickup.

A good day for Nissan...Ari Vatanen claimed his second stage win, and Giniel de Villiers finished in 3rd place. There were no changes in the overall classification, with Ari still in 8th position and Giniel 6th.

Dakhla is an oasis, situated in the Western Desert, on the road between Cairo and El-Kharga. Between Siwa and Kharga, many oasis stretch from north to south, including the 5 largest : Baharia, Farafra, Siwa, Dakhla and Kharga. Real islands of greenery and life in the middle of the desert, they are staging posts on the old caravan roads. In this extreme western part of the Sahara, the last dunes of the Great Sand Sea dive down into the Farafra depression, continuing towards Farafra and on to Dakhla and the Sudan.

Giniel De Villiers and Pascal Maimon.
Photo by Nissan Europe.

Today's special stage can be considered one of the highlights of this Dakar. To cross right across the "Great Sand Sea", with an ocean of dunes ... but not just any dunes, " cathedral " dunes, some of which are over 100 metres high (some summits have been marked with posts to show the crossing points). The second part of the stage crossed the " White Desert ". A sinuous track that winds its way between great limestone mushrooms, typical of this region. The stage finished with the crossing of a magnificent pass between the canyons, before going down the cliff to the Dakhla oasis.

Ari had warned yesterday that he intended to claim more stage wins before the end of the rally ... Mission accomplished for today ... leading at each of the three checkpoints, he reached Dakhla just over a minute ahead of Luc Alphand, and just over 8 faster than Giniel de Villiers. This was Ari's 47th special stage win...

Despite everything, this stage was far from restful for the Scandinavian duo Vatanen-Thorner : " We started off strongly today. We caught Luc Alphand shortly after the start, about 50 km, and just afterwards, we took off while going over a very fast dune. The landing was extremely violent, which totally bent my accelerator pedal, and more importantly gave me a terrible pain in the back and chest. Afterwards, I was rather worried that the bump could have had some consequences. Driving with a pedal in that condition was quite difficult, as it was not moving freely and kept jamming in the accelerating position. Moreover, my back was really hurting, a pain that took my breath away. A beautiful stage, with alternating rolling and bumpy sections, with dunes and plateaux. Beautiful black plateaux between two strings of dunes. At the end of the stage, we strayed slightly from the path, but soon got back on route. Luc was very fast in a straight line, faster than us. We stayed with him, and caught up with Giniel and Sousa. At one point the four of us were running together. It was great fun and very spectacular. When I passed Giniel, I could feel that he was taking my rhythm, I was almost pushing him to go faster. I think I was a good teacher today !"

As for Giniel de Villiers, he was not about to contradict Ari's analysis : " We attacked for the first 400 kilometres. For the first 100 km, we were driving with Sousa. He passed us, and we took a slightly different route. We found ourselves ahead of him, then Ari and Luc passed us. Ari was really pushing, and I followed him. Today, he was incredibly fast ! Flat out everywhere ... I didn't exactly go to sleep either, but Ari was on a different level. A satisfactory day for me. We did not have any problems with the car, and no punctures. I would like to win a stage before the end ... why not ? Anyway, I am doing my best and trying to get the most out of the car every day. ... "

As for the Team's third musketeer, Thierry de Lavergne had a more difficult day : " The car was very heavy this morning, and we had a small problem with the shock absorbers when we were leaving. We drove carefully as we did not want to spoil our hopes of getting to the end. I 'forced' the route slightly, against Jacky's advice (who was asking me to change direction for 6 km) and of course, when we arrived at the first checkpoint, we had lost around 15 minutes... this was entirely my fault. Then, we had problems with the accelerator pedal. It would not come back up. I was using the right foot to bring the pedal up, and the left foot to brake... not very useful. I am happy that we were able to get through this stage despite our problems. Jacky and I are ready to face the final three stages of the rally... "

Tomorrow, the 14th stage heads for the mythical city of Luxor. A 702 km stage, including 274 km of special stage...


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Luc Alphand , Giniel de Villiers , Ari Vatanen , Pascal Maimon , Thierry de Lavergne