Ari Vatanen gives Nissan a fourth stage win and claims his 51th career win on the Dakar Today, Ari Vatanen won his 51st Dakar stage win. This was also the fourth for Nissan in the 2005 event. All three Nissan drivers have won at least one stage.
Ari Vatanen gives Nissan a fourth stage win and claims his 51th career win on the Dakar
Today, Ari Vatanen won his 51st Dakar stage win. This was also the fourth for Nissan in the 2005 event. All three Nissan drivers have won at least one stage. Giniel de Villiers, 3rd today, is playing it safe. No unnecessary risks for the South African, with the Rose Lake nearly in sight...
At the age of 52, Ari Vatanen pocketed his 51st Dakar stage win. A fine performance from the Member of the European Parliament, whose win was also the fourth for Nissan on the 2005 Dakar. Today' s stage was dusty, with plenty of spectators along the side of the track, both in and out of the villages.
After a satisfactory day' s work, Ari sat down to enjoy a beer in the bivouac : "This 51st win is a good thing... Today' s route was quite fun, except perhaps for the end, where the track was very rough. But the start and the middle section were good, a real rally driver' s stage. Everyone took it relatively easy today. Peterhansel and Alphand were very gentlemanly when I wanted to overtake them. Unfortunately, I broke the front differential 250 km from the finish. This win has given my morale a boost, as I began to doubt myself over these last few days. I was beginning to wonder if I could still go quickly."
Tiziano Siviero, who shares the cockpit of the nr 311 Pickup with Ari Vatanen, had a busy day today : " We overtook quite a few cars, and then we broke the front differential after 250 km. Despite that problem, we managed to set the best time. This stage was quite dangerous. "
Giniel de Villiers is on fine form. Relaxed, not under pressure, he is patiently waiting to reach the Rose Lake. Even if he is 50 minutes behind Jutta Kleinschmidt in the overall classification, after the German had some steering problems today, the South African remains level headed : "It was a good stage, but I didn' t think the road book was very realistic. We spent ten kilometres going by sight alone ... there was an enormous hole just after a village, which should have had three exclamation marks, but was not mentioned at all. We hit the hole quite hard with the front of the Pickup. Luckily without causing too much damage. I tried to keep the right pace, even though we lost our front brakes. No unnecessary attacks, I don' t want to endanger that which we have already accomplished. Ari was very fast today ; I think he wanted a win before the end. He is my eassistance' car, and he played his role perfectly, staying behind me..."
As talkative as ever, Jean Marie Lurquin was quite pleased with today' s stage : "We caught up with the Mitsu cars before crossing the river. They let us through quite nicely. But we didn' t see anyone on the track, except for bikes... After the ford, we had a brake problem. We did all the rest of the stage with just the rear brakes. We were quite ecool' out there. There were a lot of people, not just in the villages either. I even saw René Metge...It' s the first time I have seen so many people alongside the route. I didn' t hate this stage; I even quite liked it. A shame we had to do it without brakes, as the track was really quite fast...."
Tomorrow will see the last true stage, between Tambacounda and Dakar...The shores of the Rose Lake are now very close... A 225 km special stage, and a route which should allow everyone to show off their driving skills - if they have the energy. We will be leaving the tropical forest for the savannah, the landscape growing light kilometre after kilometre, but there will be a lot fewer reference points. After the finish line, the competitors will have to cover 200 km in liaison to reach the capital city of Senegal....