Stage 3: Nador to Er Rachidia January 2, 2006 Connection 237 km - Special 314 km - Connection 121 km Total 672 km Something new to the East He who looks will find. The fact that the title of the stage has appeared three times in the history of...
Stage 3: Nador to Er Rachidia
January 2, 2006
Connection 237 km - Special 314 km - Connection 121 km
Total 672 km
Something new to the East
He who looks will find. The fact that the title of the stage has appeared three times in the history of the rally will not be of much help, since the course of the special is totally new. Crossing the wadis, Morocco's classic traps, will be on the menu, and the first major errors of navigation are to be anticipated. Those used to old-version GPS technology could pay the price for a tricky period of adaptation.
Water crossing from Portugal to Morocco
11:00 -- Night watch
Latecomers, mechanical repairs, funny stories and nightmares... Life goes on after night fall in the Dakar bivouac. Every morning, don't miss out on what happened!
18:00 -- Thousands of fans in Malaga
A crowd of close to 25,000 people were waiting around the Malaga harbour to see the boarding of the Dakar 'caravan' heading by ferry to Africa and the Moroccan coast. The first of the three boats, the 'Ciudad de Valencia' already welcomed half the bikers in the event. One after the other, after a 400km liaison, the competitors were cheered on by the many fans. Frank Periguaud, currently last of the overall bike standing seemed impressed by the size of the crowd. "It's really amazing, we almost can't go through because of the number of people. They move away at the last minute."
18:30 -- The Gordon show
Robby Gordon made sure he was noticed when making it to the harbour, allowing everyone to listen to the GM engine of his big Hummer. After speeding through the crowd and shaking a great deal of hands, the American boarded the Ciudad de Valencia.
19:00 -- At work
The competitors gathered in the main living-room of the boat and all started studying their road-books for the first African stage. Stephane Peterhansel was seen discussing with team mate Nani Roma and Carlos Sainz, eager to discover Africa and see what he can manage in his Volkswagen race Touareg II on Moroccan soil.
19:45 -- Closed doors
Time had come to close the huge back doors of the boat with 39 of the 40 cars expected having boarded. Hungarian Laszlo Palik was indeed the only latecomer while four bikers were missing.
19:50 -- Open Sesame
Marcel Van Drunen is late but the almost closed door is re-opened to let the biker in. The explanation of the Dutchman is simple: "I broke an electrical box during the special and it took me some 4 hours to repair after the finish. I wasn't even able to say goodbye to my father who specially came from the Netherlands to boost me one last time".
19:55 -- Closed doors... again!
This time, the boat could start crossing over to Africa with 229 bikers and 39 cars. Other than Palik, biker Guy Moinon, quad rider Robert Greff and side-car driver Jean-Claude Morsillo were also missing on a boat that was supposed to gather all the competitors of the bike race. In the main room, the TV screens showed footage of the day's special. The car winner Carlos Sainz took time to discuss about it with Simon Jean-Joseph, his former WRC team mate in the Ford team.
20:30 -- Different ways to prepare
The main leaders of the car race entered their cabins for a well deserved rest. Meanwhile, their co-drivers carried on working on the road-books which will this year be the only source of information. All the methods are equally valuable. Yasushi Yamata, co-driver for Japan's Asaga decided to isolate in the lower decks of the ship with a head-phone, others work in teams like the three co-drivers of the Schlesser buggies or Jean Marie Lurquin with his girl-friend Antonia de Roissard, both co-drivers for Carlos Sousa and Stephane Henrard.
23:00 -- Verhoef, last to go to sleep
Former biker Eric Verhoef who is competing on four wheels for the first time as the co-driver of Freddy Loix seems to be very careful at his new functions. He is indeed the last man to carry on working in the main room of the ship, while all the others are enjoying a last comfortable night.
4:00 -- At last, Africa...
The Ciudad de Valencia eventually made it to Nador on the Moroccan coast. The bikers left the ship heading for a waiting zone before being called one after the other in the starting order of the day's stage. Ruben Faria, the Portuguese hero of the first two days suffers his first African upset, losing his credit card. The precious item was eventually found by someone else and brought back to its owner.
07:40 - Stage 3: Nador - Er Rachidia
Traditionally providing a relatively gentle introduction to African terrain, the first Moroccan stage will this year be marked by a much more brutal change. The route offers the classic traps to which the Dakar faithful are accustomed, namely technically demanding and stony tracks, but the drivers and co-drivers will face a particularly rude awakening in terms of navigation. The application of the new rules barring the use of GPS should sow confusion among all those used to this technology. With the sole source of information now being the road-book, the caravan could well start to scatter from today.
Under these conditions, it would be highly fanciful to bet a single dirham on the previous day's winner, Ruben Faria, who is taking part in his first raid rally and has never driven on African soil before. In contrast, this first test might offer a few pointers on the chances of Carlos Sainz, who can depend on the expertise of an experienced co-driver in Andreas Shulz, a former Dakar winner alongside Hiroshi Masuoka.
11:21 - Esteve leads at km 80
Spaniard Isidre Esteve was seen riding alone in the lead of the bike race at km 80 of the day's special. The overall race leader was followed by a group of riders including yesterday's stage winner Ruben Faria of Portugal.
11:43 - Caldecott leads at CP1
With twenty riders through at CP1(km 122), Andy Caldecott has clocked the fastest time so far. The Australian has a 51" advantage on KTM - Repsol team mate Carlo De Gavardo. Third is title holder Cyril Despres at 1'11" followed by privateer Agra Carrera at 1'39" and USA's Blais at 2'18". Overall race leader Isidre Esteve went through the first CP, 7'09 adrift.
12:13 - First cars on the special
The first 20 cars have taken off for their day's special, a 314km course... First man to start was yesterday's winner and overall leader Carlos Sainz who wil be discovering his first African stage on a Dakar. Beautiful conditions so far on the event: a bright sun and clear skies with rather mild temperatures... Completely different compared to last year's race when fog forced the organisers to cancel the bike race during the first stage in Morocco.
13:18 - Schlesser fastest at CP1
At the first CP of the car race, Jean-Louis Schlesser has the fastest time so far. The Frenchman on his buggy has a 56" lead on Giniel de Villiers in his VW Race Touareg. Third spot is for Hiroshi Masuoka (Mitsuishi), 1'11" adrift. We then have Kleinschmidt at 1'57", Gordon at 2'23", Miller at 2'24". Overall leader Carlos Sainz is 5'50" adrift. The Spaniard started the special in first position after his win yesterday.
13:33 - Masuoka in front of Sainz
After CP1, Hiroshi Masuoka (Mitsubishi) has managed to overtake race overall leader Carlos Sainz who took off first this morning. The Spaniard in his VW Race Touareg appears to have had navigation problems, slightly losing himself. Meanwhile behind, Jean-Louis SChlesser is still storming after clocking the fastest time at the first CP.
13:39 - Caldecott still the fastest at CP2
Australian Andy Caldecott has clocked the fastest time at the second CP. The KTM Repsol has a 2'35" advantage on Andy Grider and 3'28" on De Gavardo. Overall leader Isidre Esteve is way behind, 12'19" adrift.
13:56 - Caldecott wins special
After clocking the fastest times at all CPs, Andy Caldecott has won the first African special of the rally. In a final time of 3h21'11", the Aussie beats Andy Grider by 3'04". Third is title holder Cyril Despres at 3'07". Overall leader before the day's stage, Isidre Esteve lost 11'12" on the day.
14:02 - Despres new overall leader
After clinching third spot on the day, Cyril Despres is back in the overall lead. The Frenchman has a 1'16" advantage on Marc Coma and 1'39" on privateer Pellicer.
15:24 - Schlesser wins special
After clinching the fastest times at the two CPs, Jean-Louis Schlesser grabbed victory on the finish line of the day's 314km special. In his Schlesser-Ford buggy, the two-time event winner took advantage of his excellent average speed to beat Hiroshi Masuoka (Mitsubishi) by 19". Third was title holder Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishis) 37" adrift. Overall leader before the day's stage, Carlos Sainz lost precious time during his discovery of the first African stage. The Spaniard finished 6'44" off the pace.
15:28 - Roma new overall leader
For the first time in his career, Nani Roma is the leader of the car overall standing. The 2004 bike winner leads the event with a 6" advantage on Mitsubishi team mate Hiroshi Masuoka. Bruno Saby is third 54" adrift.
15:33 - Tchaguine leads at CP1
Russian Vladimir Tchaguine has clocked the fastest time at the first CP (km 122). The Kamaz leader has a 13" advantage on Hans Stacey and 1'03" on Miki Biasion.
17:54:34 - 3rd stage victory for Vladimir Chagin (truck)
Having gone into the lead on CP1 and CP2, Chagin further increased his advantage over Miki Biasion at the finish line, with 7'06''. Unbeaten since the start of the competition, the Russian has a total of five consecutive stage victories to his name, if one includes the last two scratches of the 2005 Dakar... and he could well make it more.