Dakar: Repsol stage 13 report

The bikes are back in the race. Caldecott and Peterhansel, stage winners Roma finished the car special as 5th fastest. No noteworthy changes in the overall standings The Dakar 2005 has returned to normal with the thirteenth stage...

The bikes are back in the race. Caldecott and Peterhansel, stage winners

Roma finished the car special as 5th fastest. No noteworthy changes in the overall standings

The Dakar 2005 has returned to normal with the thirteenth stage between Bamako and Kayes, in Mali territory. It's been a stage where the main title aspirants, especially in the bike class, have raced in group, because it was a laterite single-track, with a lot of dust and several crossings. Little possibilities for all of them to get considerable advantages. Marc Coma had a problem with the trip master and had to wait for Esteve to get together to the finish, making him loose some minutes. Today's winner has been Andy Caldecott , Isidre Esteve finished sixth, Marc Coma ninth and Giovanni Sala tenth. In the overall standings, Frenchman Cyril Despres keeps an advantage of 16.06 over Marc Coma, second, and 21.06 over Esteve, fourth. Sala is seventh.

In the car class, Peterhansel keeps on increasing his advantage in the overall standings. After today's stage he's 27.33 ahead of his team-mate Luc Alphand. Nani Roma managed to finish in an excellent fifth position and is still sixth in the overall standings.

The fourteenth stage will be held tomorrow, between Kayes and Tambacounda, already in Senegal, with a 530-km special with laterite tracks and savannah.

Marc Coma: "After the cancellation of yesterday's stage, we started the race anew today. The stage has been strange somehow, difficult as regards concentration and with a lot of dust. I skidded a lot. In addition we crossed several villages and there were animals crossing the road; it's been a bit dangerous and we had to ride very carefully. The most important thing is that we're here and there isn't much left for the finish. The trip master began to fail before the refuelling. I noticed that it wasn't working because it didn't display the right kilometre data. I changed it for the auxiliary trip master during refuelling and once the problem had been solved I managed to reach the finish. I think that it will be difficult to shorten the gap to the lead of the race from here to Dakar. If everything works out well for Cyril I think that it will complicated to get him. But there are still 500 km left tomorrow and we'll have chances until the end."

Isidre Esteve: "After Fabrizio's accident, the cancellation of the stage yesterday was necessary. Today, we have restarted the race with a stage full of dust, people, villages, animals... It's been complicated, because it would have been easy to crash or any to have other incident. I decided to take it with ease, securing and without risking any crash. I knew that the guys from the back would get me, but I wasn't able to pass Marc or Cyril either, because there was so much dust that I couldn't even see them. I was always in a cloud of dust. I think that we'll having more of the same tomorrow, but the riders in the back will have it easier. Once we entered the laterite tracks, and that's what we're going to have from now on, it's very difficult to shorten gaps. It's not like in the desert, it's open and you can pass wherever you want. Now you can only open a gap if those in front of you make a navigation mistake. Overtaking them on the track is very difficult, you just have to wait for a mistake of the rider ahead."

Giovanni Sala: "Today we restarted the race after the cancellation of yesterday's stage. It's been hard, both because of Fabrizio's accident and because it's been a quite complicated track. There was a lot of dust that made it almost impossible to see anything. It was dangerous to take a risk and therefore I opted for a conservative strategy; but I also had a navigation problem that made me loose some time. Well, but I'm here and that's the most important. As regards the question of whether Marc and Isidre still have chances for the victory or not, I think that they're both close and in good conditions. I'd really like one of them winning the race, because we've worked very hard together to make it, it would be a dream come true. But I prefer not to say anything and wait until we reach Dakar, because there are only a few days left for the finish."

Jordi Arcarons: "From what the riders have told me, it's been single-track race, with a couple of dangers and a lot of dust. It was the typical African laterite road where the dust stays suspended and does not go away. Marc started first but had a problem with the trip master hindering him from coordinating well what the road book said and what he was finding on his way, especially as regards dangers. He couldn't ride fast and safe at the same time. In the back, the other riders have been catching-up with each other, but they haven't been able to overtake each other because of the dust, so they all reached the finish line together. The differences have been really small and they've had no chance to recover some minutes, only those of the starting order. Everything due to the dust. This is the problem we'll going to have from know on until Dakar, because all the tracks we're going to find are going to be like that. The riders are OK after the cancellation of yesterday's stage. I think that once you get back on your bike, you have to concentrate so much on what you're doing that it doesn't let you think about anything else. Rather than eager to start, I've seen them eager to move on and finish the race as soon as possible. Everybody's feeling is of deep sadness and although Fabrizio's accident happened not long ago, exactly two days, we have the feeling that it's been much longer."

Stephane Peterhansel: "It was a good day for me. The stage was not very long. The beginning was very fast on the laterite track. After about 80 kms we arrived on a narrow track and then the end of the stage was fast. I started second, but after 120 kms I caught De Villiers and tried to pass him. I pushed hard to get passed and he lost control of his car and left the road. I took the stage lead and finished with a good speed. Tomorrow will be a long stage. It will be dusty. There will be a lot of trees and a river crossing. We will try and keep the rhythm, with just two long stages to go."

Luc Alphand: "It was so dusty today. Giniel de Villiers let Stephane overtake, but not me. We stayed behind De Villiers. The pace was good, but again we have lost some time to Stephane. That is not a big problem. It was a good day for the team and we are getting closer to the finish. We will both start ahead and control the pace."

Nani Roma: "Things have worked out very well today; it's been a faster stage, a real driving stage. I got my best result so far, fifth fastest. I'm very happy. I've been driving for several kilometres behind Ari Vatanen who raised a lot of dust. It became dangerous. There comes the moment when there's no need to take any risk for just a couple of minutes, because you can lose everything in the middle of the dust. The most important is that the team is doing well, it's in the lead, and if my team-mates should need anything, I'll be there, very close. We'll reach Dakar in two days, let's see if we can continue like this, because there's still a lot to do. The most important is to keep on moving forward, bit by bit but steadily. I don't want to think about whether I'll be able to close the gap to the fifth qualified or not. That's not my job; I'm not going for a great result. What I want to do is to take things with ease, move on, be close to my team-mates, that's my job. I don't mind finishing fifth, sixth or seventh, although obviously my mentality is that of a winner and I want to be as much in the front as possible. Before the start I would have agreed on finishing among the top ten. Now I'm sixth and I simply must stay cool and forget about the result."

-repsol-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Luc Alphand , Stéphane Peterhansel , Giniel de Villiers , Cyril Despres , Giovanni Sala , Nani Roma , Marc Coma , Jordi Arcarons , Andy Caldecott