Dakar: Stage 1 Lisbon to Portimao notes

Stage 1: Lisbon to Portimao December 31, 2005 Connection 186 km - Special 83 km - Connection 101 km Total 370 km The tracks of Alentejo Fine-tuning the preparation of the machine and testing its capacities in racing conditions are the usual ...

Stage 1: Lisbon to Portimao
December 31, 2005
Connection 186 km - Special 83 km - Connection 101 km
Total 370 km

The tracks of Alentejo
Fine-tuning the preparation of the machine and testing its capacities in racing conditions are the usual exercises in Europe. For the first time, competitors must also try out their hand at navigation. Tracks, and fast ones at that, are ideal for riding and driving, but there will be as many traps as there are changes in direction. There will be a real overall classification on New Year's Eve.

Stage 1: 2005-12-31, Lisboa to Portim?o.
Photo by A.S.O.

Concerning the favourites, David Fretigne will want to clinch yet another European special after wining the last four in the two previous events. But those specials were a lot shorter. In the car race, quite a few teams can hope for success. Luc Alphand knows what to expect after winning the Portuguese Baja a few months ago. The track could also inspire WRC specialists such as Carlos Sainz or Bruno Saby. Of course all eyes will be set on national hero Carlos Sousa who could well be within the leading positions at the end of the day.

07:50 Stage 1: Lisbon-Portimao
While quite a few drivers have already had the opportunity of competing on this type of terrain in their career, it certainly is the first time that the Dakar course features such a long special on European soil. According to the latest information sent by the organisation opening team, all is set for a great special and the rain worries shouldn't be too much of a problem after the heavy showers that it the area. "The terrain is muddy but it should be OK", explained event director Etienne Lavigne. The competitors should however be wary of three train crossings that will obviously be well signalled. The passage of a train being part of the race, if a competitor is forced to stop he will not be given bonus time.


10:56 - All the bikes have started
The 232 bikes cleared to start the race have left Lisbon for a 186km liaison before the start of the day's special. The first competitor to take off was Portuguese quad rider Antonio Ventura. At 9:15 AM, he then started the timed special from Bega heading 83kms down. The 28th edition has really started.

11:26 - Bad news for Montaz
Biker Bernard Montaz was the first to have problems on this 2006 Dakar. On the liaison road heading to the start of the special, the Frenchman suffered a broken engine on his Honda 650 XR. As allowed by the rule book, he'll be able to carry on the race despite not being able to compete in the first special. This applies to European stages. The Savoy area rider, who had quit the race in 2004 and 2005, has planned to head back up to France on his bike after he makes it to Dakar... if he makes to Dakar!

11:59 - Quads and side-cars have made it
In the bike race, all the competitors on quads and side-cars have made it to the finish of the day's 83km special: 8 quad riders and 3 side-car crews. Also on the finish line of the special are the first few privateers while the main favourites from the KTM-Repsol, KTM-Gauloises and Yamaha teams are taking off for their timed efforts.


12:30 - 'Peter' in action
First driver to take off for the day's car special is title-holder Stephane Peterhansel who started at 11h18. The first 20 cars will take off every 3 minutes in the order of the car numbers... The following 20 vehicles will be taking off every minute then it'll be every 30sec for the remaining crews.


12:55 - Despres wins first special
Title holder Cyril Despres on his brand new KTM clocked the fastest time of the first special of this 2006 Euromilhoes Dakar. The Frenchman managed an excellent time of 58'10" on the muddy paths of the 83km course. Despres only just beat surprising early starter Ruben Faria of Portugal. The KTM biker finishes 4" adrift. Third is Spaniard Marc Coma at 7" while another Portuguese, Helder Rodrigues used to these familiar tracks, is fourth at 50".

13:15 - Portuguese surprise!
While Cyril Despres started his quest to retain his bike title in style by clinching the day's special win, the main surprise came from the Portuguese privateers. Indeed Ruben Faria and Helder Rodrigues managed to finish within the top 4. In the leading ten we have 3 French riders (Despres 1st, Fretigne 6th and Casteu 7th), 3 Portuguese (Faria 2nd, Rodrigues 4th and Goncalves 10th), 3 Spaniards (Coma 3rd, Esteve 5th and Pellicer 8th) and an Australian (Caldecott 9th).


13:31 - Saby fastest so far...
With only two cars on the finish line, Bruno Saby on his Volkswagen race Touareg managed the provisional fastest time in 58'18". Mitsubishi's Stephane Peterhansel who took off first suffered a puncture and had to change a wheel... He finished the special in a time of 1h00'35", some 2'17" adrift of the current leader. Carlos Sainz had managed the fastest time at the first check point, with an advantage of close to 50" on Saby.

13:44 - Sainz new leader
Newcomer on the Dakar, Carlos Sainz (VW) clocked the fastest provisional time of the day's 83km special. The Spanish two-time WRC World champion took advantage of his traditional rally experience to storm to an impressive final time of 56'20". Second so far is his team mate Bruno Saby, 2'02" adrift. Sainz had clocked the fastest times at all three time checks and finished at an average speed of 88km/h.

13:55 - Sousa second!
Porguese hero Carlos Sousa took advantage of his knowledge of the day's course to fly to an excellent second spot. The Nissan driver finished 1'26" adrift of Carlos Sainz's fastest time.

14:21 - Volkswagen impress
For the first special of this 28th dakar, Volkswagen impressed with their 5 vehicles entering the leading ten. The man of the day was of course Carlos Sainz with a first special success for his first few kilometres in the event. Meanwhile Bruno Saby had to settle for a good third spot (at 1'51") just ahead of Jutta Kelinschmidt (at 2'24"). The two other VW drivers, Giniel De Villiers and Mark Miller were 7th and 9th. It wasn't the best of day's for the Mitsubishi team. Title holder Stephane Peterhansel stopped to change a punctured tire and finished 3'46 (in 11th spot). The same problem hit Hiroshi Masuoka who however decided to carry on driving despite a puncture (12th at 4'34). The best Pajero driver was Nani Roma, 5th (at 3'12") ahead of Luc Alphand 6th (at 3'20").

14:52 - Chicherit 5th
New BMW X-Raid recruit, Guerlain Chicherit who had won the 'Volant Dakar' contest last year, clocked the fifth fastest time of the day's special. Driving a new X3, the Frenchman manages the best time of all the BMW drivers, finishing 3'02" adrift of Sainz's best time.


17:04 - Tchaguine fastest of the truck race
Four-time Dakar winner Vladimir Tchaguine stormed to stage victory after the 83km of the special. The Kamaz driver clocked a time of 1h12'59", beating former WRC World champion Miki Biasion and his IVECO truck by over 2'. Third was Brasil's Andre De Azeevedo in his Tatra, 3'15" adrift. The big upset concerned title holder Firdaus Kabirov who lost close to 30' on the day.


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Mark Miller , Carlos Sainz , Luc Alphand , Hiroshi Masuoka , Stéphane Peterhansel , Miki Biasion , Carlos Sousa , Cyril Despres , Bruno Saby , Nani Roma , Marc Coma , David Fretigne , Guerlain Chicherit , Firdaus Kabirov , Antonio Ventura , Helder Rodrigues , Ruben Faria