Dakar: Stage 10 Atar to Atar notes

Stage 10: Atar to Atar January 10, 2005 Liaison 8 km - Special 483 km - Liaison 8 km Total 499 km Competitors usually have a smooth start to the stage following the rest day. That will not be the case this year! This loop - Special is the...

Stage 10: Atar to Atar
January 10, 2005
Liaison 8 km - Special 483 km - Liaison 8 km
Total 499 km

Competitors usually have a smooth start to the stage following the rest day. That will not be the case this year! This loop - Special is the hardest in the rally in terms of dune crossing.

Stage 10: 2005-01-10, Atar to Atar.
Photo by A.S.O.

At the very beginning of the stage, a 40 km erg will filter the competitors, and then they will have to climb the difficult Thaga pass.

A sea of sand and numerous dune fields will enliven the route to the El Beyyed Erg: another 40 km of non-stop dunes, amongst the most difficult ever crossed by the competitors. The "return" route will be easier, marked out through the plains for 200 km over the Sebkhet Chemch?m "chott".


09:16 Rest day: all you have to know...
The 276 remaining competitors in Atar (129 bikes, 99 cars, 48 trucks) enjoyed a well deserved rest day on the Mauritanian bivouac ... Here's all you need to know about what happened on the day!

9 h 00: Good morning Atar
While the mechanics have started working on the vehicles since dawn, the first journalists started settling in the media centre. The bivouac of the Telefonica Dakar 2005 starts slowly waking up. Meanwhile, the competitors are still enjoying a 'long' night's sleep after the 399km Tidjikja--Atar special.

10 h 00: Mitsu at work
Team Mitsubishi is at work. Stephane Peterhansel's car is hidden under a tent. The explanation is quite simple: on the previous day, the vehicle of the six-time rally winner suffered piston problems, 40km from the finish of the special.

10 h 30: Privateers finally in Atar
Eric Palante and Ennio Cucurachi, finally reached the finish line of the stage. "I destroyed my chain while at full speed in fifth gear before CP1. My clutch no longer works. So I took time to get here", explained the Belgian biker.

11 h 30: KTM teams at work
The mechanics of the KTM team are awake and working. While the Gauloises team's only serious task concerns the change of engine on Meoni's bike. "I'd rather not take any risks. I feel better and so do the mechanics", admitted the Italian. On the other hand, it was a different story in the Repsol team with changes of engines on all machines. "For us, it isn't a rest day. Every year that's what we do, especially because tomorrow we have no driving to do. We'll have more time for a rest", explained Christian, one the head mechanics.

12 h 00: The Schlesser expo
Jean-Louis Schlesser, who withdrew from the race between Zouerat and Tichit, takes advantage of the rest day and the visit of sponsors and journalists to show off his buggy. "I'm a bit disappointed but have a lot of faith in the car. I want to carry on with it for the rally-raid season to test it and probably come back even better for the next Dakar".

13 h 30: Golden oldie
The very popular Citroen 2 CV, that stopped its route between Smara and Zouerat is also present in Atar.

George Marques, the co-driver hopes to takes his little wonder to Dakar. And added to that he hopes to try and start again next year. With all the advertising we've had, we hope to come back with a bettered 2 CV: lighter and more adapted to the sand.

13h40: Press conference time
Like at each rest day on the Dakar rally, time had come for the traditional organisation press conference with Etienne Lavigne and Patrick Zaniroli facing the media. A good opportunity to talk about the first 9 stages and especially the last three days. Race director Patrick Zaniroli insisted that in thirteen years in the Dakar organisation never had he seen such bad weather conditions "making the race 30% harder". The race officials also announced that the time penalties concerning the bikers caught outside the XTE GPS corridor were reduced from 5' to 1'. In other words, that meant that Fabrizio Meoni was back on top of the bike standings.

"I gave the officials my point of view this morning to feel better, explained the Italian. I am now told that the penalty is cut down. That's good news. It wasn't a major affair but I still think that the penalty shouldn't be applied".

15 h 00: Good news from X-Raid
Sven Qandt, team manager of X-Raid, is reassuring on the state of health of his driver Nasser Al Attiyah and especially co-driver Alain Guehennec, after their crash during stage 8. "Nasser is in top shape. Alain was a little shocked by the accident. To be honest they were ready to carry. But it wouldn't have been serious.

They're now in Nouakchott and will maybe go to Dakar."

16 h 00: Nissan at work
No time for a rest in the Nissan team. Giniel De Villiers' car is fully checked from back to front and top to bottom. Ari Vatanen's Pickup on the other hand is more of a problem. Christophe Chapelain, technical director, remains optimistic: "We've changed the parts that we had planned for Giniel's car. The transmission worries on Ari's vehicle are about to be sorted out. We've done the necessary changes. We should be finished in about 3 hours".

17 h 00: Pessimistic Jutta
Does she really mean it? Jutta Kleinschmidt sounded rather pessimistic on her victory chances: "Even with only a 40 minute deficit, the Mistubishi are unreachable, except of course if they have a major problem. I'm just going to hang on to my third position."

18 h 30:
Carlos Sousa, 4th overall has a better face. After suffering problems on old 2003 suspensions, the Portuguese driver saw the 'Messiah' arrive in the person of a British engineer present in Atar with brand new suspensions. Carlos can now carry on dreaming of a place on the podium in Dakar with his Nissan de Pick-up.

20 h 15:
The traditional briefing ends. Etienne Lavigne, event director and Patrick Zaniroli, race director, told the competitors how difficult the next stage would be. The Atar -- Atar special promises a best of the difficulties one can meet on a Mauritanian stage of the Dakar. Stage 10 should be one the toughest of the 27th edition.

Thank goodness, every one had a rest!

22h30: Here comes Patsy
Stranded in the desert ever since Thursday after-noon, Britain's Patsy Quick eventually arrived on the Atar bivouac alongside compatriot Clive Town and Frenchman Gerard Dubuy. All three bikers went straight to the race PC plane to give explain their story after a few tears and hugs. All three had been located and sent food and water supplies by parachute while in the desert before the organisation picked them up to bring them to Atar after their three day nightmare.


09:19 Get ready for more drama
The first bikers took off this morning at 7h30 (GMT) with Esteve starting first followed by Meoni 2' after and Ullevalseter 4' after. The remaining Dakar competitors that enjoyed a rest day on the Atar bivouac will now meet one of the toughest stages of this 27th edition: a special heading up north and back down to Atar with a first fast 120km portion including little dunes. But the really serious business will start in the second part of the race with camel grass and especially very difficult Ergs, huge dunes to cross on the last 5kms.

The day promises to be very long for the privateers. On this stage were navigation will have its importance, the biker who will chose to take risks could well be decisive. In the car special, all eyes are on the Mitsubishi armada, so comfortable on these kind of specials. One final detail: the sky is still as cloudy and the wind remains very strong. Added to the poor visibilty that, according to Patrik Zaniroli, could make "things 30% harder."

09:37 Bikes -- Fretigne full speed ahead
Seventh overall, the Frenchman took off this morning in 15th and announced before the start that he would attack all day. The enduro World champion has the benefit of his two wheel drive system that was set up during rest day.

09:37 Bikes -- Meoni with Esteve
At km 70 of the Atar-Atar special, Fabrizio Meoni has now closed the gap on Esteve that had taken off 2 minutes ahead of the Italian.

09:39 Bikes -- Fretigne with Brucy
At km 67, just at the entry of a dune portion, David Fretigne (YAM) has caught up with Jean Brucy (KTM) who took off 4 minutes before him. In other words, we have confirmation that the Frenchman is in excellent shape and hungry for a good performance. The two riders are slowly closing the gap on Walch.

09:42 Bikes -- Coma impressive
Marc Coma who took off 12th this morning is managing the best performance so far. The Spaniard has caught up 4 riders after km 70: Marchini, De Azevedo, Blais and Dabrowski.

10:12 Bikes -- 128 still in the rally
128 bikes have taken the start of the day's special and therefore still remain in the rally. Only one biker failed to start the special: Duval (167).


10:24 Cars -- Off goes Alphand
The first competitor in the car race, Luc Alphand (winner of the last special) took off this morning at 9h18 (GMT) as planned. Alphand (MIT) was followed by Peterhansel (MIT), 2' later and Gordon (VW) 4' later.


10:44 Bikes -- Meoni in the lead
At km 177, close to 20kms from the first CP, Meoni leads the special with Esteve just behind (at 35"). Both bikers are riding under a typically British rain. At the same spot but over five minutes behind three riders were riding bunched (Despres, Ullevalseter and Cox), followed at 7min by Andy Caldecott.

11:43 Bikes -- Meoni at CP1
The first two riders have arrived at the first check point of the bike race (km 203). Fabrizio Meoni made it first with a slight lead on Esteve who had started the day's special two minutes before the Italian.

12:16 Bikes -- Meoni at CP1
The first two riders have arrived at the first check point of the bike race (km 203). Fabrizio Meoni made it first with a slight lead on Esteve who had started the day's special two minutes before the Italian.

12:17 Bikes -- Despres best time at CP1
At the first check point of the bike race (km 203), Cyril Despres has clocked the fastest time so far. The Frenchman has a 1'40 lead on Coma, 4'35 on Cox, 4'40 on Meoni and 7' on Esteve.

Despres went through CP1 in a group with Ullevalseter and Cox while Meoni and Esteve were riding in front but had started the special in the leading two positions.


12:17 Cars -- Peter and Alphand in the lead
Before km 100 of the car special, Stephane Peterhansel and Luc Alphand are in the leading positions. Peter caught up his Mitsubishi team mate and both are overtaking each other one after the other. Meanwhile Robby Gordon who left 2 minutes before Volkswagen team mate Kleinschmidt let her go through and is driving just behind as a fast assistance.

12:18 Cars -- Henrard in trouble
Belgian Stephane Henrard was seen stopped before the km 10 mark repairing. It appears that his buggy has transmission problems.

12:20 Cars -- Masuoka in trouble
At km 100, Hiroshi Masuoka was stopped with mechanical worries. Both the Japanese and his co-driver were working on the Mitsubishi.

12:28 Cars -- Engine broken for Masuoka
After stopping at km 100, Hiroshi Masuoka appears to have broken his engine. The Mitsubishi two-time Dakar winner could be headed for an early withdrawal from the race.

12:34 Cars -- Saby stopped
Before CP1 of the car special, Bruno Saby was stopped with mechanical problems on his Volkswagen Race Touareg. His team mate Juha Kankkunen has also stopped to help repair.

12:36 Cars -- Alphand fastest
At CP1 of the car special (km 203), Luc Alphand had the provisional best time with only two cars so far at the check point. The Frenchman has a 1'24" lead on Mitsubishi team mate Stephane Peterhansel.


12:50 Bikes -- Despres still the fastest
At the second check point of the bike special, Cyril Despres still has the fastest time so far. The Frenchman has a 6'06 lead on Cox, 6'13 on Fretigne (YAM), 8'55 on Meoni and 10'17" on Ullevalseter.


13:08 Cars -- Peterhansel fastest
At CP1 of the car special (km 203), Stephane Peterhansel has the provisional best time. The Frenchman has a 1'24" lead on Mitsubishi team mate Luc Alphand. Third is Ari Vatanen (NIS) at 3'48, followed by De Villiers (NIS) at 5'02, Sousa (NIS) at 5'52, Kleinschmidt (VW) at 7'38 and Gordon (VW) at 11'31.

13:29 Cars -- Mechanical update
Hiroshi Masuoka was seen heading back to the bivouac of Atar in the opposite direction of the special due to his serious engine problems. With the dunes he will soon have to cross, the Japanese will probably have to wait for his assistance truck. Meanwhile, good news from Bruno Saby. The Frenchman was stopped at km 35 with gear box worries. He was eventually helped out by Volkswagen team mate Juha Kankkunen and is now back on the special and driving.


13:29 Bikes -- Fuel problems for Coma
Spaniard Marc Coma, third at CP1 found himself out of gasoline 5kms before CP2 (km 293). He received assistance, and fuel from his Repsol team mate Giovanni Sala. Coma eventually made it to CP2 with an 11'22" deficit on fastest rider Despres.


13:42 Trucks -- Tchaguine stopped
Winner of the previous stage, Vladimir Tchaguine (KAM) was stopped at km 180 with a punctured tire.


13:55 Cars and trucks -- the situation
152 cars and trucks still remain in the rally and have started the day's stage from Atar to Atar. Four vehicles have withdrawn from the rally: Josep Nicolas Gonzalez (374), Manuel Duran (438) and Franco Grigoletto (439) in the car category and Jordi Ginesta (547) in the truck race.


14:04 Trucks -- De Rooy fastest at CP1
With the first trucks at CP1 (km 203), Gerard De Rooy (DAF) has the provisional best time. The Dutchman has a 14'34" lead on Hans Bekx (DAF). Third is overall leader Firdaus Kabirov (KAM) at 16'50 followed by Loprais (TAT) at 23'29 and Tchaguine (KAM), who suffered a puncture, at 30'45.

Meanwhile, Andre De Azevedo (TAT) seemed to have mechanical problems and was heading back to the Atar bivouac.


14:41 Bikes -- Despres wins special
After taking off in 7th position of the bike special, Cyril Despres conquered his first win on this 2005 Dakar.

The Frenchman caught up all the bikers ahead of him to clock a final time of 5h28'26" on the day's 483km special. Despres beat Meoni by 10'08". Third was Isidre Esteve at 12'24", followed by David Fretigne at 12'51" and Alfie Cox at 16'26".

Despres takes command of the overall with a 9'13 lead on Meoni.


15:05 Cars -- Alphand fastest at CP2
After Stephane Peterhansel stopped to add air to his tires before CP2, Luc Alphand clocked the fastest time at that check point with a 25" lead on 'Peter'. Third, Jutta Kleinschmidt (VW) is far behind at 22'35", while De Mevius (NIS) is fourth at 24'30 and Gordon fifth at 33'25". Both Nissan Pickups of De Villiers and Vatanen were seen stuck in the sand before the CP.

16:21 Cars -- and another special for 'Peter'
With only two cars on the finish line of the special, Stephane Peterhansel can already start celebrating his third victory on the rally. The Frenchman beat his Mitsubishi team mate Luc Alphand by 1'24.

16:39 Cars -- De Mevius crashes
Forty kilometres after the second check point, Gregoire De Mevius suffered a serious crash in his Nissan Pickup and launched his distress signal. Both the driver and co-driver were shocked but are slowly recovering.


The weather conditions that have shaken the rally since the beginning of the event have made the last stages a lot harder than expected for the 2005 edition. Added to that, the information given by the organisation opening teams indicate that the first half of the special will be a lot tougher, especially if the weather remains this way. La rally officials have therefore decided to shorten stage 11 from Atar to Kiffa that was already expected to be one the hardest of the event. The special will stop at the originally planned CP2 shortening the distance from 656 km to 400,48km. From CP2, the competitors will head to the Kiffa bivouac on a liaison via a asphalt road.


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Juha Kankkunen , Luc Alphand , Jean-Louis Schlesser , Stéphane Henrard , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Hiroshi Masuoka , Stéphane Peterhansel , Carlos Sousa , Ari Vatanen , Jean Brucy , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Giovanni Sala , Alain Guehennec , Bruno Saby , Marc Coma , David Fretigne , Firdaus Kabirov , Andy Caldecott , Nicolas Gonzalez , Hans Bekx , Jordi Ginesta
Teams Citroën World Rally Team