Motorcycles Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM -- 7th of the stage) - 002 The first 150 kms were very fast, with villages, jumps and quite a lot of other stuff to look out for on the road book. To be honest I found it quite difficult to concentrate and...
Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM -- 7th of the stage) - 002
The first 150 kms were very fast, with villages, jumps and quite a lot of other stuff to look out for on the road book. To be honest I found it quite difficult to concentrate and a bad stomach didn't help. At around km 200 I made a little mistake, hit a rock and had a small fall, that flattened the right exhaust pipe and strangled the engine's power. At km 245 we came to refuelling and Jean (Brucy) helped me cut the pipe just before the flat and liberate the power. The important thing today was just to get through it. We knew that over a narrow, dusty track, with lots of speed controls, nothing much would change as far as our positions were concerned. Although it was sometimes hard to keep my mind on the job, I didn't regret my decision to continue.
Alfie Cox (SAF -- KTM -- 4th of the stage) - 003
To race in Mali isn't very nice. There are too many people. Today, all we did is just go from one village to the other with the cruising control, I think 18 riders controlled today. It wasn't a nice day, because you couldn't overtake on the very small and dusty paths. In fact, it wasn't really a race today but just a little training session... It also wasn't a good day because it was too stressful for me as for all other the riders I believe. With what happened to Fabrizio, we hadn't any motivation for racing and even for riding. I wasn't good on the bike, and I think it'll take time before we attack again. With all the thoughts that came to mind during the stage, it was impossible to ride properly, and stay focused. It was hard to take the bike this morning, but we took a decision and we had to follow it. There's no more pressure, because nobody really wants to change the overall classification, the race is over. Now the main thing is to get to Dakar. Everybody has a strange taste in the mouth and the most important is to get to Dakar and see what should be changed for the future.
David Frétigné (FRA -- Yamaha -- 2nd of the stage) - 012
Really a dusty stage. We drove very carefully and peacefully today. I started from 11th this morning and it was very hard to overtake the others with all the dust. The stage was beautiful, very technical and enjoyed ridding it. With better visibility it would have been marvellous, but it was impossible with my starting order. However, the main thing today was to get back into the good racing rhythm, get the feelings back, and finally it wasn't so bad. It was hard to think about Fabrizio during yesterday's long day and personally, I would have preferred riding yesterday, everybody at his own rhythm as we all did today. Before the start, my goal was to finish between the 5th and the 3rd position of the overall standings, which is what I've done for the moment. 5th would be good, 3rd would be very good, so I hope it'll be very good in Dakar.
Chris Blais (USA - KTM Red Bull -- 3ème de la spéciale) - 022
Now I just want to arrive to Dakar and just finish with the race. I didn't think I would to do so well today. I managed not to make any mistakes and the race course was good for me, just like those I'm used to riding in the USA. I don't think the others like these kind of tracks, but are better in navigation or in dune crossings. For me, it was easier today than on the previous stages, even if it was still very dusty. I like this kind of piste, very fast and twisty. However, you have to ride very carefully, because there's a lot of people in the villages.
Andy Caldecott (AUS -- KTM -- Stage winner) - 023
It was very hard, especially with all the dust. Jean Brucy rode in front of me during maybe 30 km, and I had to stay in his dust before eventually overtaking him. I just had a small problem when I hit something on the road, but as I wasn't riding very fast at that moment, I didn't lose any time. Everybody drove slowly today because now nobody is racing for victory. We just want to make it to Dakar in a safe way. Sometimes today, I was thinking of Fabrizio, but immediately I tried to re-focus because too much thinking is very dangerous for a biker when he's ridding.
Thierry Magnaldi (FRA -- Honda -- 4th of the stage) - 305
We enjoyed ourselves today... We tried to drive very properly without thinking of the result. We stayed behind Vatanen for 50 km, but we were really faster and just before a village I caught him and he let me pass. Then I could drive without any dust, and it was really pleasant. There was some very tricky paths, fast and twisty, with a lot of sliding trajectories. So we had to drive carefully. It's my best result in a Dakar stage since I compete in a car. Tomorrow, I'll again try to drive carefully and take pleasure, but without disturbing the leader's race. If it's necessary I will let them pass. Now the main goal is to bring the car peacefully to Dakar.
Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- Stage winner) - 306
It was a really fast stage today, especially at the beginning. We had to drive at 140 km/h on a laterit track. Then the road was much narrower and tricky with a lot of big rocks, before getting fast again. We started in 2nd position this morning, and after 100km we overtook De Villiers. Actually, we put him under pressure and he lost control of his car and quit the road. So it was easier to pass him. Then we controlled the gap because with the dust we knew it was very hard to overtake us. Still three days before the podium but the race isn't over yet. Tomorrow the stage should be difficult.
Luc Alphand (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 2nd of the stage) - 312
I drove well today even if I'm a little bit disappointed. I would like to win one more stage before Dakar. I couldn't understand De Villiers' way of driving today. He let Stephane Peterhansel go by, but no me! Anyway, I don't have the choice, I have to accept it. So I lost 4 minutes more today, added to the 5 I lost yesterday, it's a lot. And with all the dust it will be very difficult to overtake until Dakar. But being 2nd for my first Dakar in a official team is already quite good.
Giniel de Villiers (SAF - Nissan -- 3rd of the stage) - 314
It was a normal day today, even with all the dust, I couldn't see anything. So I drove very carefully, because it would have been stupid to lose everything now. Peterhansel overtook me just before CP1. He was really faster than me. Even, I was a little surprised about his speed, because as a leader he could control the race. After that, with all the dust, I didn't see anyone in my rear view mirror. In the villages, all the children seemed to be very happy of seeing us, with lots of applause. Now the gap with Jutta (Kleinschmidt) is too big to hope and finish on the podium, except if she has a mechanical problem. So the main goal is now to get to the bivouac every night without meeting problems. We should it take stage after stage until Dakar.
Nani Roma (SPA -- Mitsubishi -- 5th of the stage) - 320
It was a very funny day today, with a lot of driving. It's just a shame that I had to stay in Vatanen's dust for 50 km. He must have had a lot of problems because he wasn't driving at his maximum level. I tried to pass him but it was really too dangerous. But everything's ok, I'm very happy with my race because I never though to be 6th of the overall standing three days before the end. The most important for me is to still learn. Every day, there's something better in my driving or in the way I understand my co-driver Henri Magne. And that's the most important. Stage after stage, I feel better in the carr, so I can drive faster. Even if I'm well aware that it's much easier with this wonderful car.
Gerard De Rooy (HOL -- DAF -- Stage winner) - 516
It was a good day, just a bit dusty. However, because we started in first position this morning, we had less dust than the others. I'm first of the stage and that's the most important thing. It was a rather dangerous stage. Until CP1, I was at 140-150 km/h but after that, the track was slower. We went faster after CP2. The truck is in good shape. Nothing broke today. The bad luck has vanished. Now our only goal is to get to Dakar with the three trucks. We'll do our best to make it on the podium. And why not win another stage! I have no regrets concerning my crash earlier in the rally because we only lost 2 hours. On the other hand our gasoline problem before Tichit made us lose 7 hours. Every year, I learn more. Each specials brings something new. But we had too many mechanical problems. Although we finished rather early yesterday, the mechanics still had a lot of work. And that's bad for the team. But I'm still young and still have time to improve.
Jan De Rooy (HOL -- DAF -- 2nd) - 521
It was a very fast special but the truck was ready for it. It was the kind of stage that I enjoy with long fast paths. I'm fourth overall for the moment and we will carry on trying to do good things. Anyhow, with the time we lost, there isn't much we can expect.