Fog alters the first special in Africa Cancelled for motorbikes. Peterhansel finishes second in cars The first African special was staged today. However, heavy fog hindered the helicopters from taking off early in the morning and since it ...
Fog alters the first special in Africa
Cancelled for motorbikes. Peterhansel finishes second in cars
The first African special was staged today. However, heavy fog hindered the helicopters from taking off early in the morning and since it would not have been possible to guarantee the participant's safety from the air, the organisation decided to cancel the motorbike's special.
The riders, who had started at 5.30 in the morning from the bivouac for the liaison, finally covered the route from the CP1 on in caravan formation all the way to the arrival.
Several hours later the fog had disappeared and it was possible both for cars and trucks to start their special stage and race under normal conditions. Robby Gordon was the winner of the special, thus taking back the overall leadership. Gordon finished 53 seconds ahead of Stephane Peterhansel, who is second in the overall standings. The Mitsubishi Repsol driver is 59 seconds behind the leader confirming his possibilities to fight for the victory from the first moment.
As regards the rest of the team members, Alphand was 4th at 1.32, Masuoka 14th at 7.13, Roma 15th at 7.54 and Mayer 17th at 8.13.
In the overall standings, Alphand is 4th at 1.32, Masuoka 14th at 7.13, Roma 15th at 7.54 and Mayer 17th at 8.13. Roma covered his first special in Africa with no news and at a good pace.
It was a long stage, 666 kilometres in total, with a 123-km, complicated special due to the technical route on mountain areas and the large amount of intersections, roads and vegetation along the route, forcing drivers and navigators to follow the indications of the road book with special attention.
In the motorbike standings, Fretigne will take the start of the next stage in the lead. Coma is sixth at 53 seconds, Duran 7th at 54, Esteve 10th at 1.08 and Sala 163rd at 9.06. In the truck class, the Repsol team made up by Jordi Juvantey, Jose Luis Criado and Francesc Pardo finished the stage in 30thh position. They are 23rd in the overall standings.
The fourth stage will take place tomorrow between Agadir and Smara, with a total length of 654 and a 381-km special. The first motorbike is scheduled to start at 8.05 a.m., 10.45 a.m. for the first car.
Repsol rider's comments
Nani Roma: "Everything went well although it was a difficult special and we've actually been driving in the middle of a dust cloud. We did it with ease, getting used to the car and we found absolutely everything on our way, from water to stones and areas where it would have been very easy to get a puncture. We'll be covering more kilometres tomorrow and that's exactly what we need".
Isidre Esteve: "It was supposed to be a short stage but it tended up being a very long day for us because the special was cancelled and we had to cover almost 500 kilometres of liaison and hundred additional kilometres due to the cancellation. We arrived quite tired. Nothing to say about the cancellation, safety comes obviously first".
Marc Coma: "Not a decisive day but I think that the organisation took the right decision cancelling the stage if they were not able to guarantee our safety".
Jordi Duran: "The most important thing is that there are several days left and today was only an introduction to the desert. The road book indicated several dangers but we haven't found that many. I think it's perfect that they have considered our safety".
Carlo de Gavardo: "I've only swallowed dust today. I hope to find a more technical desert tomorrow, with more rocks and stones. The Dakar will really start next week in Mauritania. However, a 300-km stage is already something important".
Giovanni Sala: "I was looking forward to recover today from the bad luck in the prologue. The route was favourable for us because it was very technical, good for Endurance riders. We covered a lot of kilometres for nothing, but there's nothing we could do. The fog hindered the helicopters from flying."
Jordi Arcarons: "It's a shame because the riders were well prepared and eager to race. Nobody likes to cover 500 kilometres using a normal asphalt road, after the organisation cancels a stage, but I think that the organisers have done right. Safety is first. We'll have to get up really early tomorrow and it will be a hard day with several stones and traps on the road in mountainous areas".