Giniel de Villiers and his Nissan Pickup prove to be the fastest on the Castellon beach Giniel de Villiers erased all memory of the small problems he had yesterday by setting the fastest time in the final European special stage, at the wheel of...
Giniel de Villiers and his Nissan Pickup prove to be the fastest on the Castellon beach
Giniel de Villiers erased all memory of the small problems he had yesterday by setting the fastest time in the final European special stage, at the wheel of his Nissan Pickup. In the overall classification, Colin McRae is in eighth place, just 1:24 behind the leader, and just ahead of his teammate Ari Vatanen.
The Spanish spectators flocked to line the route of the special stage, laid out on the Castellon beach. Over this nine-kilometre timed stage, the Nissan Pickup driven by Giniel de Villiers proved to be the fastest.
In order to forget his misadventures of the day before, the South African driver was keen to put in a good performance. Relieved to have finished the European part of the event, he is already concentrating on the rest of the route, and the real start of the race in Africa :"I am satisfied with today's result. As it turns out, despite yesterday's minor crash, I have not lost too much time in Europe. But the serious business will soon get underway ..."
Colin McRae, still as calm as ever, set the eighth-best time in the special stage, and is now eighth in the overall classification, the first of the official Nissan team : "My team-mates are giving me plenty of advice concerning the African special stages, and are trying to make sure I am as prepared as possible, as it will all be new to me. The most difficult aspect will undoubtedly be the length of the stages. But now I am really impatient to get there."
Ari Vatanen was as relaxed as usual, and talked about today's stage with a big smile on his face : "I decided not to win the Dakar here !!! We drove quite calmly. We had no problems with the car. I am still very careful. I am confident for the rest of the event, but I am remaining 'modest', as too much confidence in Africa can lead to mistakes."
Yoshio Ikemachi listened closely to the advice given by his navigator Thierry Delli Zotti and, drove calmly, finishing 2:21 behind the leader with his Nissan Patrol. The Japanese driver, still as attentive and hardworking as always, knows that there are thousands of kilometres still to be covered, and that anything can happen.
After this nine-km warm-up, all the competitors set off for the 850 km liaison section across Spain, before reaching Algésiras and crossing the Straits of Gibraltar. The day's final destination is Tangier, where the weather is much milder than is Europe. They have been eagerly awaiting that for a number of days, and this evening, the Dakar has a decided African feel.
Tomorrow, they will have to cover another 233 km to reach the start of the 75-km special stage, on a fast track close to Rabat. This will be followed by 444 km of liaison before reaching Er Rachidia.