Dakar: Nissan stage 14 report

Colin McRae and his Nissan Pickup set the 2nd fastest time... Ari Vatanen is forced to retire Colin McRae completed a superb special stage, taking second place. Giniel de Villiers set the 7th time. However, Ari Vatanen had to give up, just ...

Colin McRae and his Nissan Pickup set the 2nd fastest time...
Ari Vatanen is forced to retire

Colin McRae completed a superb special stage, taking second place. Giniel de Villiers set the 7th time. However, Ari Vatanen had to give up, just two stages from Dakar. After falling victim to an accident this morning at the start of the stage, he has been forced to retire. Neither man was hurt.

The theme of today's special stage was sand, sand and more sand. Dunes, getting higher and higher, chain after chain, forming a real sea of sand, then an ocean, breaking at the foot of the cliffs of Taskast. A special stage that was both technical and tactical. Demanding on the driving front, but needing skilled techniques for crossing dunes, and excellent navigation. There was only one pass which allowed the competitors to rejoin the trail leading to Tidjikja.

Unfortunately, Ari Vatanen was only to see the first ten kilometres of this challenging sector. Having made a flying start, the Finnish driver could not avoid a collision with a tree : " 10 kilometres into the stage, we were driving too quickly, too soon... over a bump, the car lost balance and we were not able to avoid a tree. We uprooted it... but we also broke the car. We carried on for another two kilometres, but then we ran out of oil. I am very disappointed, because we had really put in a lot of effort between Tidjika and Nema. Many people, in our position, would have retired. It was my fault, and I think that I was driving too quickly. Physically, we are both fine. Juha just has a slightly sore head. But as far as my morale goes, I am hurting. It is a great shame after all we have been through. However, my love for the Dakar remains intact."

As for Colin McRae, he is forging ahead. Having set the best time yesterday, he was second-fastest today : "It was a very difficult stage, but very beautiful too. A lot of driving, a lot of navigation. We didn't have any problems at all over this route. Tina was perfect, we did not get lost a single time. However, we were relatively careful, because tomorrow's special stage will be no picnic either. It's important to take care of the car, and that is what we have done. We will work a bit on the car this evening, but nothing too important, the car did not suffer."

Giniel de Villiers also arrived at the Tidjikja bivouac at the end of the afternoon. Less lucky than his teammate today, he set 7th time after having a few problems : "I agree with Colin, the special stage was hard and demanding today. We had a first puncture after CP1, and then we looked for our route for a while... around twenty kilometres from the finish, we had another puncture ... and we stopped again. It was better to lose a few minutes rather than to risk damaging the car. It's a marathon stage, and our race truck will only arrive very late. It should not be forgotten that tomorrow's stage will not be easy, either... "

Tomorrow, the competitors will be back in the terrible 'camel grass', with 200 kilometres of extremely difficult off-road driving. The day before arriving in Dakar, nothing is settled, and this special stage, which includes navigational challenges and dunes to cross, could still make some changes in the final classification. It will also be important to keep an eye on fuel consumption until the very end, and to cross the Amoukrouz erg just before the finish line...

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Colin McRae , Giniel de Villiers , Ari Vatanen