South Africans very excited about second stage results in Dakar. The nerves are starting to build and the tension is mounting as the Dakar crawls closer to Africa. A highly technical endurance type of circuit, somewhat of a curved ball, was...
South Africans very excited about second stage results in Dakar.
The nerves are starting to build and the tension is mounting as the Dakar crawls closer to Africa. A highly technical endurance type of circuit, somewhat of a curved ball, was thrown at the competitors on the second day of the 2003 Telefonica Dakar Rally, when it was announced quite late that a 43km special stage was included in today's 574km between Narbonne in France and Castellón in Spain.
Here the South Africans proved their agile race ability and came out tops. Alfie Cox (2) on the 660 Gauloises Natro Freight Nashua KTM finished second, a mere 15 seconds behind his teammate Richard Sainct (3) of France, ahead of Cyril Despres (7), his other French teammate. Cox was ecstatic and could hardly believe his position, and said: "I prefer the tough dunes and the difficult long stages, not the enduro racing on this big 660, but I am very happy to be well placed amongst the front riders".
"I'm not an Enduro specialist so I didn't go fast in the technical tight stuff. For me the race really starts in Africa. Every year I'm behind the others in Europe. It doesn't matter. If I could ride quickly here I would. There is time to be won but so much you can lose. My bike and myself, we prefer Africa. We'll play our cards in Africa on our playground," said last year's motorcycle winner, Fabrizio Meoni of the Gauloises KTM Team.
Giniel de Villiers (217) and his French navigator, Pascal Maimon, surprised many and made his intentions clear, when he finished second overall in the car category with his Proudly South African Nissan Hardbody. Stephane Peterhansel (206) in a Pajero, who drove the Nissan last year, won the car category, 17 seconds ahead of De Villiers; he made it very clear that he is quite adamant to finish the race next to the Red Sea, but he admits it is a good pschycological position to be in, finishing second today.
Four of the Nissans are in the top ten currently, with the other places shared by Mitsubishi, and BMW. With one of the best navigators next to him, and his fine touch and gut-feel for a car, Giniel de Villiers has the skill to perform well for South Africa in this race.
Former Dakar winner and World Rally Champion, Ari Vatanen (204) from Finland and his navigator Tina Thorner proved their point by finishing fifth, three places better than their teammates Thierry Delavergne (210) of France and his navigator Jacky du Bois. Kenjiro Shinozuka (201) of Japan, and navigator Thierry Delli-Zotti took very carefully, deciding on the no-risk strategy through the muddy track, finishing 10th.
In the Experimental Class Vicus van Deventer (171) on a DHL DS 650 Bombardier quad, also finished in second place 1min 39sec behind Czechoslovakian Josef Machacek (170) racing an 850 CZE Yamaha Fire Blade quad. "The battle will be in the desert and the endurance and reliability of the Bombardier should definitely prove superior," said a very confident Van Deventer. The struggle in this class has all the ingredients to develop into a battle of the quad giants.
A short service stop followed the stage, near Roquefort des Corbières, before they began the 510km road section across the border into Spain and on to the overnight halt at Castellón.
Friday's third section begins with a 5km liaison section to the start of a sandy 8km special stage near Castellón. An 82 km liaison takes the Dakar caravan into Valencia where they will spend the afternoon arranging pre-boarding formalities for the Mediterranean Sea crossing to Tunisia.
The Truck category was completely dominated by the De Rooy Father Johannes De Rooy (DAF - 409) finishing the pacial in a final time of 51min28s. He beat his son Gerardus (DAF - 417) by 38 seconds. Third place went to Germany's Klaus Bauerle (Mercedes - 403).
-Coen van Zyl