Ari Vatanen, with a Nissan Pickup claims his 50th Dakar stage win Second consecutive success for Nissan in the 26th Dakar. After Castellon, where Giniel de Villiers won yesterday (his first stage win in the Dakar), it was the turn of Ari...
Ari Vatanen, with a Nissan Pickup claims his 50th Dakar stage win
Second consecutive success for Nissan in the 26th Dakar. After Castellon, where Giniel de Villiers won yesterday (his first stage win in the Dakar), it was the turn of Ari Vatanen, who claimed a highly symbolic victory today : his 50th career stage win in the event ...Colin McRae set an excellent time to finish 4th, with Giniel de Villiers 6th.
There was plenty of emotion for Ari Vatanen today. Claiming his 50th special stage win on the Dakar, he has entered the record books for this legendary rally. Jacky Ickx, in second place, has claimed 29 wins. A record that will not be broken in the near future...
At Sharm el Sheikh, the end point of the 2003 Dakar, Ari was slightly sad that he had not managed to claim his 50th win. Remaining on 49, he had promised to return the following year to claim it. Mission accomplished - an exceptional record for an exceptional champion.
In the overall classification, Ari Vatanen is now in 4th position, behind Stéphane Peterhansel, Miki Biasion and Grégoire de Mévius, with a delay of 1:28. A very slender gap for such an event.
Colin McRae set a very good time, just 41 seconds behind Vatanen. For his first special stage on African soil, the driver from Scotland was able to get the balance right : " I was not too lost on today's special stage, which reminded me of some sections of the WRC. I am very satisfied with our time. The car behaved very well, even if we still have a few small things to improve. It's really great for Ari ..."
Giniel de Villiers, 49 seconds behind his Finnish team-mate, claimed the 6th fastest time. He has gained two places in the overall classification, and is now in the top ten, in 9th place : "We drove well today. I've gained two places in the classification, but the gaps are very small. It is a bit too soon to get a good idea of what is likely to happen. I am very happy for Ari. He really wanted this 50th win, and he has got it. I hope that one day I will be able to do likewise ... I opened my score in Castellon yesterday. I hope it is just the first of a long series..."
Yoshio Ikemachi, at the wheel of his Nissan Patrol in the Production category, finished around 15 minutes behind the leader. The young Japanese driver is tackling his first Dakar in a very careful manner, but he is extremely determined to reach the finish line.
Nissan has placed its three Pickup vehicles in the top nine in the overall classification. A very fine start for the event, as it reaches African soil.
Tomorrow's leg will be slightly shorter, but the special stage will be 337 km long, between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate, the pearl of the desert. The day's schedule includes the famous Chebbib erg, the first real difficulty of this year's event, and the first contact with the sand. The 2004 Dakar will really get underway ...