Dakar: South Africa drivers stage six report

Cox wins stage in Africa A day after his 40th birthday, Alfie Cox has taken his first stage win during stage 6 of the 2003 Telefonica Dakar. The South African, racing for the Gauloises Red Bull Natro Freight Nashua Team had his head down and he...

Cox wins stage in Africa

A day after his 40th birthday, Alfie Cox has taken his first stage win during stage 6 of the 2003 Telefonica Dakar. The South African, racing for the Gauloises Red Bull Natro Freight Nashua Team had his head down and he was absolutely focused to achieve this.

"The first 140km of the stage was very fast, I ran wide open, and I attacked on the last 70km in the very technical part of the stage required serious navigation. During the latter part of the stage we did a fair bit of dune crossing, but I was somewhat surprised at the ease with which we handled the dunes," remarked Cox at the finish.

Temperatures are rising all the time as the caravan moves further south. Run between EL Borma in Tunisia and Ghadames in Libya, this was a real Dakar stage, all be it slightly short.

"I went all out in attack this morning and I had to focus and concentrate all the time. Fortunately I caught Cyril Despres before the refuel. We rode together all day and caught the three front runners Sainct, Roma and Meoni," said a jubilant Cox.

Vicus van Deventer, the DHL Bombardier quad racer from South Africa said: "I could not switch to fifth gear for most of the stage so I could not run flat-out because of the soft sand. I enjoyed the stage however; this is what we came to race in Dakar. I had a clean run today." Van Deventer is currently in third place, about 29 minutes behind Machacek of Czechoslovakia, the leader Machacek of Czechoslovakia in the Experimental class.

Giniel de Villiers, of the Proudly South African Nissan team said: "The learning curve is very steep, but I am enjoying the race. I believe we were very fortunate not to get stuck today." De Villiers has slid back slowly on the overall standings, while his Nissan teammates Kenjiro Shinosuka of Japan and Ari Vatanen of Finland are slowly improving their positions.

In the end, Stephane Peterhansel of France managed to beat his teammate Hiroshi Masuoka of Japan, both racing Mitsubishi Pajeros. They are now followed overall by the Belguim Gregoire De Mevius in a BMW X5, with Shinosuka and Vatanen completing the top-five in their Nissans, with De Villiers in sixth.

Tomorrow sees the longest special stage of this year's Dakar Rally. About the route of 584km across the Libyan Desert, from Ghadames to Ghat, Alfie Cox explained, "Running in first I'll need to set the trail tomorrow. The one up front needs to navigate. I'll be loosing some time and the others will take advantage of that. I'll work hard to ensure a good start, as the first part is again very fast. I don't want to loose too much time which the two-cylinder machines could gain."

No service crews will be at the overnight stop tomorrow, only the tools will be at hand that are transported with the personal luggage of each competitor. Now the men and boys are separated.

-cvz-

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Series Dakar
Drivers Hiroshi Masuoka , Stéphane Peterhansel , Giniel de Villiers , Ari Vatanen , Vicus van Deventer , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox