The two Nissan Rally Raid Team Pickup cars reached the Atar bivouac this evening. Giniel de Villiers was 7th fastest in the stage, and Ari Vatanen 11th. A fine performance from the Finn, who started from a long way back this morning. Just before...
The two Nissan Rally Raid Team Pickup cars reached the Atar bivouac this evening. Giniel de Villiers was 7th fastest in the stage, and Ari Vatanen 11th. A fine performance from the Finn, who started from a long way back this morning. Just before the rest day, Giniel de Villers has gained two places in the overall classification.
Giniel de Villiers had a very good stage today between Tidjikja and Atar. The only slight problem he encountered was with the accelerator this morning, before the start of the special stage, which meant that he lost 25 minutes. This gave the South African some regrets, as it would have been possible to gain another place in the overall classification.
Although slightly disappointed, Giniel was still calm : "An accelerator problem delayed our start, and we lost around 25 minutes. We had to overtake a number of competitors early on, who all seemed rather surprised to see us there. It is really annoying, as we drove very well today. The stage was very difficult. A lot of big stones and very soft sand. The Pickup was going through the sand really well. We' ve gained two places in the overall classification, which is really good. Now, we' ll have to maintain this pace for the rest of the rally."
Jean Marie Lurquin shared his driver' s thoughts on the difficulties they faced today : "Due to a little technical problem, we were a bit late starting the stage. We had to overtake a lot of trucks and cars. With the wind that was blowing all the time, the visibility was not very good, and it was difficult to find the right trails through all these enormous stones. We saw the two BMW cars on their rooves. No-one was hurt, but looking at it objectively, the difficulty was not well marked. Just one exclamation point on the road book was really underestimating the problem. Our Pickup went really well... "
After taking two days and a night to complete the Zouerat-Tichit stage, Ari Vatanen and Tiziano Siviero arrived at Tichit yesterday evening, accompanied by two guardian angels : the nr 529 and 504 trucks. Ari told us of his adventures:
"It all started when we lost the brakes, and then, when night was falling, the transmission broke. We had to spend the night there, but at least this time, I had taken a tent with me... We were exhausted. In the morning, we met some fantastic people - two trucks, who took it in turns to tow us. First of all, it was to see if we could be towed, meaning just a few metres. But then they said - Ari ! Don' t worry, we' ll take you to Tichit. Unfortunately, both trucks run out of fuel. Some Mauritanian solders came to help us out."
"But the most incredible part was that it was the same soldiers who helped us last year, when Colin and I were stuck in the desert for three days. They recognised me, and fell on me, hugging me. It was a great moment. You really meet some wonderful people, like the drivers of these two trucks, who did not hesitate to help us. What a great spirit of solidarity. They helped us, when they really did not have to. I think that is shows real commitment to react as they did. I would like to thank them with all my heart."
"After arriving in Tichit, where we stopped briefly to eat something, we got going again for Tidjikja. We arrived at around 3:00 in the morning. This morning, we got going again. Just 5 km from the start, we had a puncture. Then we got stuck in the sand twice in the first dunes. I' m exhausted. I don' t know if it is sunrise or sunset. My back is a mess..." However, when a doctor came over to see how Ari was, as his back is hurting him really badly, and to find out if he wanted anything, the Finn simply replied: "A beer!"
Tomorrow will see everyone take a well-deserved rest. Men and machines will be able to use the day to recharge their batteries. The second part of the rally looks like being extremely trying…