Ayoun to Kayes Connection: 110 km - Special: 257 km - Connection: 117 km Total: 484 km Bike: Isidre Esteve (ESP - KTM Gauloises -- Winner) - 4 Navigation was the most important part of the stage. Then there was a lot of dust which made riding...
Ayoun to Kayes
Connection: 110 km - Special: 257 km - Connection: 117 km
Total: 484 km
Isidre Esteve (ESP - KTM Gauloises -- Winner) - 4
Navigation was the most important part of the stage. Then there was a lot of dust which made riding hard. I could reconnect with the bikers in the lead at the refueling point and we drove together from there on. Sometimes I was leading, sometimes it was Marc (Coma). This stage victory is important for me because I came to the Dakar to win. And when you loose two hours, you also loose your illusions and it's hard to get back in the race. That's why I'm happy about today's stage. I will keep going like this and have fun up to Dakar.
David Casteu (FRA -- KTM Gauloises -- 8th) - 8
I have thorns all over my body because we hit many trees but I'm ok. I drove well today. There was a lot of navigation by heading; it was hard. Actually, at one point, I caught up with Cyril with the others who had just made a mistake and had had to loop around a bit. Then I opened the way for a while but a bit later I made a mistake myself and they caught up with me. Anyway, there are ways of handling such stages and loosing time can happen really quickly. As far as I'm concerned, I had to keep an eye on Blais, but I realized at the end of the stage that he had had trouble with a front brake. It's a rather good thing for me as I am now in a more comfortable 3rd place in the overall rankings.
Paulo Goncalves (POR - Honda -- 2nd) - 33
This second place is important for me. It's my best ranking in a Dakar stage and in Africa. It's a reward because everything was going wrong since the beginning. I had the flu at the departure in Lisbon, then I broke the chain in the marathon stage in Morocco. It was hard to do something next. But now with this result I am going to start in the right group tomorrow morning. It will help me be in the race for the ranking of tomorrow's stage.
Fabien Planet (FRA -- KTM -- 5th) - 19
Today my colleagues from KTM had told me I had to be extremely careful with the indications in the road book. So it's what I did and everything went well. In the beginning, I made a few mistakes but I realized quite quickly I had not lost any time. At one point, I was close to reaching the head of the race when they got a bit lost but when they were back on the right track, they were just going too fast for me so I did not follow them. Actually it looked a lot like endurance and I like that. On some sections, I was not really at ease because I am not used to high speeds. On long straight stretches, I was scared.
Tom Classen (AFS -- KTM -- 4th) - 146
It's great to be 4th. This kind of terrain looks pretty much like the one I drive on in South-Africa. After two days trying to understand how the GPS works, I think I did a good job today. Obviously it helps to start in 62nd position, but you still have to focus on the road book and not just follow other people's tracks. Being 4th is still a surprise to me. Of course, it's great for the sponsors. I don't know if one day, I'll be able to win a special stage, but if I do, I'll dedicate it to Elmer Symons. We miss him dearly!
Carlos Sainz (ESP - VW -- Winner) - 303
It was a difficult stage both in terms of driving and in terms of navigation. It was also a fast one from the start. The car was hit a bit because there were quite a lot of tricky paths between trees. Today's victory is particularly important because the Volkswagen team was a bit down after all that happened. By winning, we show again that we are competitive and that the work done was useful. Anyway, it showed to the outside world that the team, the car and the organization are great performers. Our mechanical problems were like a rude awakening and during trials nothing had led us to thinking it might actually happen. I had come to win. Now I will keep fighting for stage victories.
Carlos Sousa (POR - VW -- 2nd) - 313
I am honestly very happy about this second place. We did not have luck on the important stages so today's result is good for our moral, all the more so that this morning I started in 31st position. I must pay tribute to the other car competitors I overtook: they played the game and drove by the book during the overtaking. Despite being a bit of a disappointment, this Dakar is anyway the best of all my 11 Dakar participations.
Stephane Peterhansel (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 6th) - 302
I am happy to be through this tricky day, in which navigation was tough. I lost a bit of time over Luc but it's not so bad. Today, I am the leader but there can still be a technical problem, a navigation or even a driving error. For now we must think about keeping both Mitsubishi in front of the blue buggy. So far there have been no race strategy orders. But we have responsibilities and we are big boys. We can't go for it as if we had nothing to loose. It would not be nice if we were to crash the cars at this stage in the race.
Luc Alphand (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 3rd) - 300
Today, we had to be careful with navigation and it went well. We got lost once but shortly, nothing important. We caught up a bit on Stephane, but it was only half the aim of the maneuver. The situation is a bit tense but there may not be any tension between him and I. Anything can happen, still.. Six minutes are easy to loose fair and square or not. One or two flat tires and everything changes. But for sure, Stephane is better off than I am. So far there have been no race strategy orders. The only order our boss gave us yesterday was to both stay on trail with our four wheels on the ground. This does not mean that I may not race. However, I have no right of doing the special stage the way Sainz did today. If Dominique Serieys gives us a firm order tonight, I shall accept it. I am first and foremost a Mitsubishi employee and well aware of the international challenges it entails. Now, obviously things are different from two years ago. Back then, I was fourth in the previous race, so anything was progress. Once you've tasted victory, you want to taste it again. But I will never talk about it with tears in my voice.
Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT -- BMW -- 4th) - 309
It was hard to start first for this special stage with much navigation but no one could actually overtake us. As for being third in the overall rankings, we're still 24' behind Schlesser so we'll see. If we can gain 10' from him tomorrow anything is possible. But Jean-Louis is not stupid. He knows the Dakar by heart and will just let 5' go per day, that's all. However, BMW X-Raid appealed of the penalty we received. But we will have to wait until after the rally to know the final decision
Hans Stacey (HOL -- MAN -- Winner) - 501
Oh! Really, the pressure of being leader in the overall ranking is hard! But I adapt. This morning I started 7th. I did not want to attack. Then I decided to overtake the rest because the race conditions were difficult. There were a lot of trees and dust. For me it was a matter of safety and race management to be in the lead. Everything went well but the stage was short but technically complicated. It's my 5th victory on this Dakar and my 11th on the whole.
Tomas Tomecek ( RCT - Tatra -- 2nd) - 519
The stage was short but very technical. I slightly damaged the truck: the door and the right headlight are smashed. Many places were narrow and there were a lot of trees. Sometimes it was hard to go through. The stage was not easy at all. I am delighted because it's the second time I'm in the top 3 after my 3rd place in Atar. Now my goal is to be in the top 10 of the overall rankings.
Wulfert Van Ginkel (HOL - GINAF -- 3rd) - 513
I drove carefully but at high speed because the Dakar is the Dakar. In this stage, driving was very tricky because all the obstacles were very close. No way could we play the power game today because it was technical end to end. It's not my favorite kind of stage; I feel more at ease on longer stages. But I'm quite happy as I am again in the top 3 of the stage after winning in Nema. Our team goal is now to keep our positions in the overall rankings: my 3rd place and the 8th place for Arjan (Brouwer).