Dakar: Nissan stage five report

One-two for the Nissan Pickup... Colin McRae leads Giniel de Villiers First one-two for Nissan in this 27th edition of the Dakar. Colin McRae finished ahead of his team-mate Giniel de Villiers. Ari Vatanen led until CP2 but dropped back to 12th...

One-two for the Nissan Pickup...
Colin McRae leads Giniel de Villiers

First one-two for Nissan in this 27th edition of the Dakar. Colin McRae finished ahead of his team-mate Giniel de Villiers. Ari Vatanen led until CP2 but dropped back to 12th due to problems towards the end of the stage. McRae takes the overall lead with a margin of 5 minutes 28 seconds over the South African.

The serious business started today, with a particularly interesting 381km special stage between Agadir and Smara. The two-wheeled competitors had their first falls, while the cars saw the first real difficulties. Fast speeds were possible through the hills at the start of this 4th stage, but the rough tracks soon forced the drivers to reduce the pace. The second part of the special stage was quite winding, with alternating fast and slow sectors, finishing with a very long 'chott' or salt lake.

Colin McRae was victorious over this terrain - his 4th Dakar stage win, after two in 2004 : "The stage was really rough, the sort of thing that could destroy a car. We had one puncture, but I think that over ground like this, no matter how careful you were, it was difficult to avoid that sort of problem. There were some very fast sections, but we tried to keep the right pace, taking care of the Pickup. A fourth stage Dakar win - that' s not bad at all ! Actually, I' m really pleased..."

Tina Thörner, who fulfilled her role perfectly today, is trying not to put too much pressure on herself for tomorrow, as the nr 308 team will open the trail over the first dunes. "Generally, when you start off first over this sort of stage, you don' t finish in the lead, but tomorrow we will try to be an exception to that rule..."

Giniel de Villiers and Jean Marie Lurquin finished 6 minutes and 15 seconds behind their team-mates, giving the official Nissan cars a fine one-two. The South African driver and his Belgian navigator were happy with their performance, despite also having a puncture : "There were so many rocks, it was really hard on the car. In the first chott, we lost our way in the dust and hit an enormous rock, luckily with the front undertray. It lifted the car up, but luckily did not damage anything. We had a puncture, like most people, and had to change the wheel. It was a good stage for us, and the result is good, not only for us but for Nissan. The difficult part is just starting." Jean Marie Lurquin was slightly surprised with the result : " That wasn' t bad at all ! We drove well, quite quickly at the start, then we slowed the pace. I didn' t think we' d finish so high up... "

Ari Vatanen, leading the stage until the second checkpoint, had a few problems at the end of the stage : "I really had fun at the start of the stage, I caught up with Giniel after 70 km and we drove in his dust for a while. Despite that handicap, we were in the lead at CP2. Then we had two punctures. But 5 km from the end, the car turned into a two-wheel drive.... We really had to slow down in order to get to the end, and by the end of the stage, we had broken something else. We had to be towed to the bivouac... I still enjoyed driving. But it' s a shame, as we could have had a one-two-three today !"

Having been towed over the 33 km liaison section between the finish line of the special stage and the bivouac, Ari should receive a 30-minute penalty this evening. Despite everything, the Nissan cars really proved they were on the pace...

Tomorrow will see the Dakar competitors head into Mauritania, towards Zouérat. The pace will go up another notch, as the special stage will be 492 km long. They will encounter the first dunes, as well as the first difficulties crossing them ... Colin McRae will open the way. Watch this space...

-nissan-

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