Bike: Richard Sainct (FRA -- KTM, 2nd) - 001 "The first part was difficult. As it had rained a lot and with the passage of the opening cars and trucks, the sand was hard. Then there was camel grass and that was horrible. I caught Roma quite...
(FRA -- KTM, 2nd) - 001
"The first part was difficult. As it had rained a lot and with the passage of the opening cars and trucks, the sand was hard. Then there was camel grass and that was horrible. I caught Roma quite quickly and then we were all together. I didn't have much to do except go full speed. Roma did the same and we finished together. There was not much to hope for : the navigation was simple, all you had to do was follow the track left by the opening trucks. We can't say quite yet that Nani has won. We'll see in two days but things are going his way. Tomorrow, he starts two minutes behind me, if there's dust, he'll be able to catch me. When you have won three Dakars, you don't aim at second or third place. You come to win. But I had a fall. I had one small mistake at the beginning and I'm paying for it. A fall too many. That's the race !"
(FRA - KTM, 5th) - 002
"I started in front but I knew that I wouldn't be able to keep the lead for long, so I waited for the others. After refuelling, we were all at full speed. Tomorrow will be a rider's stage and I know that it will be difficult because Cox will try everything to attack and he's a great rider. I start just behind him so I have to try and catch him as quickly as possible and then I'll stay behind him".
(ITA - KTM, 1st) - 003
"For the first 200kms, it was really an enduro race and I took good care of my knee. Once we made it to the camel grass, I knew it was my kind of surface and started speeding. Not at full speed but going fast. Then on the last 100kms, I went to the maximum : a real motocross track on sand with big bends where you can go fast. This special victory pleases me because it'll remain as one of my last memories of the Dakar. I'm convinced it's time to stop. It's obvious for me, but I'm still under contract. I have to talk to KTM and my other sponsors. There is no chance to see me do the Dakar in a car. It isn't my job. I'm a biker. Why don't you ask me if I want to be a footballer or a golfer ? Those who have done this type of switch do so because for them racing is a job. For me, it's different. I know how to ride a bike, not a car. What will I do after ? I don't know. I'll certainly find an activity that will allow me to live a good life and maybe organise rally-raids. You know, I don't need a lot of money : no big car, no tropical trips... and my wife is the same. I already have a property with a house in Tuscany. I think I'll spend a lot of time there. The Dakar is nearly my life. I don't know how my head will react in a few weeks. I might be annoyed to finish on this result, but I'm happy, because the problems I've had prove that the time has come. My best memories ? It's always been nice because I took a lot of pleasure on the bike. But what I like above all are the long difficult stages like one a few years ago when we finished after 400kms in camel grass. This year's race is very hard as well. Eight years ago, my dream was only to win a special on the Dakar, so with what I've achieved since then, I can be satisfied."
(SPA - KTM, 3rd) - 004
"It was a difficult day : the part in the camel grass was technical and it wasn't easy to ride in the soft sand. There still is tomorrow, I don't think it should be too difficult. I'll let Sainct go because there should be a lot of dust, but not too far away. If everything goes well like it has until now, maybe I'll start talking about the victory, but many things can still happen on a bike. Every kilometre that we ride is a kilometre less, but there still are 250kms. At some moments I thought of the win but quickly took that out of my mind. In 2000, that's what I was thinking about and I broke my engine a few days before the finish. Of course it's important for me to win, that's why you're here, but it isn't an obsession. When it does become an obsession, you make mistakes. This year, I'm having fun. It's something that I've learnt from the previous years. Added to that, the fact that we're in Africa means that there aren't a lot of Europeans. No Spaniards to talk to me about the victory and put extra pressure on my shoulders."
(RSA - KTM, 4th) - 010
"The refuelling point was so far that we had to ride like tourists. With the camel grass and he wet sand, it was important to avoid running out of fuel. We then went at our maximum. Tomorrow Cyril Despres starts behind me, so I'll attack !"
(FRA - Schlesser-Ford -- 5th) - 200
"The helicopter was flying too low and with the wind, our front left side was ripped off. Otherwise, today's special was really hard, but was according to me the nicest of the rally. At the beginning it went well but I especially enjoyed the end with a lot of fast driving. We were following Alphand. We were on the right track but he went on another and we followed him. It was a wrong track and both of us were stuck in the dunes. I had quite a scare."
(JAP - Mitsubishi -- 1st) - 201
"It went rather well today. It was important not to damage the car, especially in the camel grass. But the suspensions did well. It was easier to accelerate after that portion. For the moment, until I get to Dakar, I can't make a recap. We'll see after."
(FRA - MITSUBISHI -- 2nd) - 203
"I'm a bit tired ! Seven hours of racing yesterday, and the same today. Added to that, we followed the bike tracks in the dunes without being able to turn back. When we saw that we were on the wrong track, we immediately deflated the tyres. Alphand and Schlesser followed us. We're not very proud of ourselves. I hope all he other cars won't do the same. It was a very difficult special, very technical, especially in the camel grass. The end was a lot faster. We're really happy to make it with the car in perfect condition. Every day is an extra step to victory because a mechanical problem can happen at any moment. Especially after what happened last year. Every kilometre has its own surprises."
(GER - Volkswagen -- 4th) - 204
"The first 250kms were horrible. All that camel grass ! It was difficult to have pleasure. I was in 1st gear all the time. Added to that, we don't have a inflation-deflation system on the car. We had a few frights. We jumped a dune going too fast and almost landed on the front bumper. The last 200kms were however nicer and we had fun. I'm happy to be here after these two marathon stages. Yesterday, I worked on the car until 2 in the morning. Now I need a shower and a good bed after a difficult night."
Giniel De Villiers
(RSA - Nissan -- 3rd) - 208
"I'm fine although the day was difficult. The camel grass made things harder. We went slowly to avoid damaging the car. We then went faster on the last portion. At one moment, the car started smoking. We stopped but found nothing wrong. Of course, a final special win would be nice but it's hard to predict. We won't take unnecessary risks to make it to Dakar."
(RUS - KAMAZ -- 1st) - 410
"We wanted to go fast without damaging the truck. We did that when it was possible. The second difficult thing on this stage was the navigation. The good thing is that we didn't make any mistakes. We left first this morning, so we didn't know what was going on behind. Our goal on this Dakar was to finish 3rd. For the moment we're 2nd, it's perfect. We'll meet tonight to plan our strategy for tomorrow."
(RUS - KAMAZ -- 3rd) - 414
"Patrick Zaniroli has found the worst places in Africa to stage the rally. In 13 Dakars, it's one of the three toughest specials I do. I'm very happy to make it. Those who will make it tonight will be winners. In the last 300kms, I was almost always in 1st gear. The camel grass was tough for everyone, as well as the Mauritanian sand that slides under the wheels."