Brazilian day on the rally For the first kilometres on Senegal soil, the sun had reappeared on the Telefonica Dakar 2005 rally. On the day's 518km special, Jean De Azevedo conquered his very first stage success beating David FrÃ©tigne in the...
Brazilian day on the rally
For the first kilometres on Senegal soil, the sun had reappeared on the Telefonica Dakar 2005 rally. On the day's 518km special, Jean De Azevedo conquered his very first stage success beating David Frétigne in the last kilometres of the bike race. In the car race Ari Vatanen added a 51st win to his Dakar record.
A bright sun was shining on the bivouac of Tambacounda when the first competitors of the rally made it to the finish line of the stage. A warm Senegal welcome for the 217 remaining competitors who are now only two stages away from the Lac Rose. After unexplained and terrible conditions for the main part of the event, the perfect but windy weather crowned a Brazilian in the bike race. Indeed, for the first time on two wheels, Jean De Azevedo (KTM) claimed a stage win for his country. Brazil had however won several specials thanks to André De Azevedo (brother of Jean) in the truck race. The little Brazilian on his big KTM took advantage of the last kilometres after CP3 to clinch victory beating David Frétigné by only 10".
Indeed the Frenchman had been leading the race from the very start with the best times at all three check points but on his lighter Yamaha 450cc, failed to be quite as fast on the last portion where speed was key. Third on the day, like yesterday, was Chris Blais who managed another fine performance for his first appearance in the race. The American finished just 23" adrift on what proved to be the closest special so far in Africa. On the dusty and narrow paths of Senegal, Andy Caldecott looked to be heading for another fine special but a rear tire problem ("A bad bib-mousse according to him) at km 320 forced the Aussie to stop, repair and eventually lose over 20' on the finish line
Meanwhile, Cyril Despres, not too concerned by a stage win, took it easily and crossed the finish line with a 7' deficit on De Azevedo, losing 3'50 on his closest overall rival Marc Coma. Time lost on the special added to 9' minutes of penalty for the frenchman (30" per km/h over the limit) after the officials published a list of those who had been caught speeding in the villages. Despres saw his lead on Coma drop down to 3'16. Not a lot with two stages to go...
On four wheels, there was only one man to watch... His name? Ari Vatanen. After suffering various worries all along the Dakar, the Finn clinched his 51 stage success in outstanding fashion. Taking off in 9th position this morning, the four-time winner of the event flew to victory on a course suited to his driving skills and his Nissan Pickup. Vatanen overtook seven vehicles 'en route' to the win. He crossed the finish line with a 9'16 lead on his closest rival on the day, Bruno Saby wile is team mate Giniel De Villiers had to settle for third spot at 11'45.
The European MP could have been annoyed by another late starter Robby Gordon, second at the first two CPs (1'58 behind at CP2, km 258) but poor old Robby was forced to stop his fine effort to help out Volkswagen team mate Jutta Kleinschmidt. The German was indeed stopped at km 268 with no more steering and for team reasons, Gordon gave a helping hand and especially his steering system to keep Jutta's hope for a third place on the podium alive... The American was then left stranded on the road waiting for the spare parts in his assistance trucks.
Meanwhile, the day went rather calmly for the Mitsubishi cars of leader Stephane Peterhansel and his team mate Luc Alphand, second overall. No risks were to be taken so close to Dakar for the Frenchmen! They therefore took off with water protections for the river crossing at CP1, stopped to get rid of them and carried on without really being concerned about the leading positions. Both finished over 20' adrift. The good news was that their comfortable overall lead was made even greater with Kleinschmidt's mechanical worries.
Peterhansel now has a 26'41 lead on Alphand and well over 3 hours on the Volkswagen Race Touareg of the German driver.
Like on the two previous days, the truck race was another Gerard De Rooy master piece. A winner in Kiffa (stage 12) and Bamako (stage 13), the DAF trucker made the best of his machine on the laterite paths of Senegal to conquer a third consecutive special on the Dakar. But this one was even more impressive with a 24'38 lead on runner-up on Japan's Sugawara (HIN). Third on the day was overall leader Firdaus Kabirov (KAM), over 30' adrift. However one shouldn't forget that the Russian's main goal is to make it safe and sound to Dakar for an expected triumph. Indeed Kabirov keeps a very comfortable 2h55 lead on Dutchman Hans Bekx.