Dakar: Nissan stage eight report

A black day for the Nissan Pickups Another long leg, over 700 km, including one of the most beautiful special stages of this Dakar, but which turned out to be a black day for the Nissan Pickups. Between CP2 and CP3, 373 km into the special ...

A black day for the Nissan Pickups

Another long leg, over 700 km, including one of the most beautiful special stages of this Dakar, but which turned out to be a black day for the Nissan Pickups.

Between CP2 and CP3, 373 km into the special stage, Kenjiro Shinozuka and Thierry Delli Zotti, who were lying in a good position, suffered a terrible accident. The car took off over a bump, and fell back down, tens of metres further away. Both men were evacuated by medical helicopter to the Rally's medical centre in Sabha. The first examinations of the team gave the following results. Kenjiro Shinozuka : extremely serious condition, suffering most notably from cranial-facial traumatism. The driver is being artificially respirated, and has been evacuated to Tunisia. He will then be transported to Paris as soon as his condition is stable. Thierry Delli Zotti is in a satisfactory condition ; he has been evacuated to Tunisia in the same medical plane as Kenjiro Shinozuka, for a precautionary scan. An update on their medical conditions will be published tomorrow morning.

Ari Vatanen and Tina Thorner.
Photo by Nissan Europe.

Ari Vatanen, suffering from engine problems for a number of kilometres, was overtaken by both Kenjiro Shinozuka and Giniel de Villiers during this stage. He was among the first to stop and help the nr 201 team, setting off his own distress beacon : "We arrived on the scene, and saw Thierry, who was suffering from shock. We got Kenjiro out of the car to put him in the shade. I know that he recognised me, he gave me a sign, but I also understood that it was serious. I tried to reassure him by saying that we would see him this evening, and that it wasn't serious. I stayed with him for around 15 minutes, by which time Thierry was more himself again, and who was able to stay by his side to stop him sinking. Help was on its way, and there was nothing else we could do. We carried on, and our problems continued. We did not have enough power to get over the dunes, it was a very long day ... But what happened to me today is not important. What happened to Kenjiro, that's important. "

Yet this special stage was announced as something fantastic. 500 km of magnificent scenery, never-ending crossings and extremely varied terrain. Leaving Ghat, the trail headed south towards Algeria, before climbing up through the Akakus massif, made up of massive dunes and chiselled rocks. After the first hundred kilometres, the competitors continued with an off-piste section towards the famous Murzak Erg, renowned for its huge, impassable waves of sand, the last difficult part of the special stage.

Towards the front of the race, Giniel de Villiers arrived at Sabha without problems. He finishing 5th in the stage and is now 4th overall. On his arrival, shocked, just like all the team members, he nevertheless drew up a rather positive report of his day. Just one puncture today, the car is performing better and better as the days go by, just like him... he is continuing his sand and dune apprenticeship, and is maintaining position in the classification.

As for Thierry de Lavergne, he seemed rather dejected : " We had two punctures today, because the inflating/deflating system was torn off. We lost 6 or 7 minutes each time, but we did not have any mechanical problems. Of course, we stopped at the site of Kenjiro and Thierry's accident. I hope it will not be too serious. Frankly, it is very difficult this evening. I saw the accident site, and I think they must have hit very hard. Ari seemed to have engine problems getting over the dunes, Khalifa broke his engine... It is really a bad day ... rally raids will always be rally raids.. "

This evening, Khalifa Al Mutaiwei had still not reached the bivouac...

Tomorrow will be another hard day. No less than 567km of special stage, once more under difficult conditions.

-nissan-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Giniel de Villiers , Ari Vatanen , Kenjiro Shinozuka , Tina Thorner , Thierry de Lavergne