Motorcycles CYRIL DESPRES (FRA -- KTM -- 2nd) - 002 The fact that the stage was cancelled isn't too disappointing. It's part of the Dakar. There are 230 bikes this year, and that's huge. The organisation can't let the race go on without a...
CYRIL DESPRES (FRA -- KTM -- 2nd) - 002
The fact that the stage was cancelled isn't too disappointing. It's part of the Dakar. There are 230 bikes this year, and that's huge. The organisation can't let the race go on without a minimum security. I just hope that it won't happen again. Other than that, the journey was pleasant. It was like a long liaison in Africa with beautiful landscapes although riding on the asphalt is painful for the bottom. But it isn't the most rugged part of Morocco. It's actually a beautiful part of the country. I felt like a tourist. Tomorrow the serious stuff starts.
ALFIE COX (RSA -- KTM - 22e overall) - 003
My shoulder is doing better day after day. It's good for me not to have ridden the stage today, because it's one more day off for my shoulder. Now, I'm very confident for the next stages, even though I'm waiting for the first long stage tomorrow, just to know if I can ride for a long time without pain...
FABRIZIO MEONI (ITA -- KTM -- 9th) - 004
It's disappointing because there were maybe a few things to try despite the short distance. It was a mini enduro. But that's the race. Everyone does his job and if the organisers decided that the weather was not good enough, then there's not much to say. The fog was very annoying, especially because of the humidity. We had to stop every 300m to wipe our goggles. The race really starts tomorrow. It'll be a rather long stage full of traps which will make it dangerous. But I can't wait for tomorrow.
DAVID FRETIGNE ( FRA -- YAM -- 1st overall) - 012
Everything went ok for me today. I just had a small fuel problem, but nothing too serious. I'm a bit tired too, because I just slept a few hours last night, because we made it to Rabat very late, and I have a little cold. I'm a little bit disappointed to have not competed in the stage today, because I think it was a good and technical track for me,. But as you know security is more important than the race and that's normal, even if it's very frustrating for us. So, I think than tomorrow the rhythm of the race will be very fast, because all the riders are very eager of riding their bike. Just like me.
Kellon Walsh (USA -- KTM Red Bull -- 3rd overall) - 021
So far... so good ! I'm tired but fine. I'm third overall but I think it's the beginners luck. The two first specials were good for me. Tomorrow will probably be fine too as I'm used to rocky courses. I'm more nervous concerning the dunes, the sand, and even more about the navigation. We don't have any rally-raids in the US so I have no idea of what I'm going to discover in the days to come. The more I ride, the more I learn about navigation and the bike so I was a little disappointed not to ride the special this morning. I was selected to be on the KTM Red Bull team after a big contest that was almost like a reality tv show as they followed us all the way from the beginning... My goal this year is to learn and get some experience.
STEPHANE PETERHANSEL (FRA - Mitsubishi -- 2nd) - 306
We drove our first African special without taking the slightest risk although we kept a good fast pace. It's important to enter into the rally slowly keeping in mind the overall. Morocco allows us to check our opponents and the least we can say is that all the top teams are well present. But I'm not surprised at their performances. On the other hand Gordon's result surprises me more because he isn't used to these kind of tracks. We'll have to see what he can do on a long-term basis. For the moment where it's a 'wait and see' race in order to find out what the other cars are capable of. We've started the African specials with the first mechanical problems. Unfortunately Hiroshi (Masuoka) had a few today. Otherwise, the course was very fast and dangerous with a lot of stones on the side of the track. Tomorrow, the level will go ease up a little more with a longer special. We'll have to be careful.
BRUNO SABY (FRA -- VW -- 3rd) - 307
This third position is very good for us, because today we had some engine failures. Since the start from Barcelona, we've had that problem in every stage, but the mechanics can't find the origin of the problem. I hope they'll find it tonight because it could bother me for the whole rally, but I trust them. Apart from that, we're happy to be at last in Africa. Tomorrow, we'll begin the real Dakar stages, long and hard with a lot of navigation. With different kind of terrain, sand, rocks... This Dakar shall be very nice, and there'll be a surprise until the very finish.
JUTTA KLEINSCHMIDT (GER -- VW -- 5th) - 310
Today's stage was really beautiful, very technical with a lot of bends, and our car is very good in these conditions. All went well for us, but the stage was still really short. Tomorrow, the stage is a real on a real Dakar terrain, long and very tricky. So tomorrow night, we'll have a better idea of who the real contenders are.
LUC ALPHAND (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 4th) - 312
I had a blast! It was more than an appetiser. The special was magnificent although there was a lot of dust and stones. As soon as you have the slightest problem on these kind of stages, the gaps grow quickly. So I took it easily. My main goal was to remain in the leading ten to start in a good position tomorrow because it'll be a dusty road. So we needed to be in the good wagon! The driving was interesting. I was under the impression that the pace was fast. It was great. I have a really fantastic car but I have to be careful with the reliability. That's key! Tomorrow we'll have real difficulties. The week promises to be rough.
ROBBY GORDON (USA -- VW -- 1st) - 317
I'm really delighted. I finally was able to show what I can really do in this rally and not only on the circuits of short specials. Volkswagen took a risk when they chose me and I'm happy to prove that they were right. I missed two crossings and had to come back on my original track during the special. I was also slowed down by two Nissans but it finally worked out well. I really enjoy driving this car and I'm learning to drive day after day because it's the first time I drive a 4X4 vehicle. But I have a lot of experience in the dunes with two-wheel drive buggies so I'm confident for the remaining part of the race. I want to start every stage as if it was a baja. I don't know what to expect.
GERARD DE ROOY (HOL -- Daf FAV -- 2nd) - 516
The day went well and I'm happy. Unfortunately, I had someone in front of me who wouldn't let me overtake and I stayed in the dust so I wasn't able to drive as fast as I wanted. Added to that, I was stopped for a few minutes because of a train. I've never seen a train that took so much time to go by. It's good to finally be in the race. The truck is working well and there's almost nothing to do tonight for the mechanics so I'm pretty confident for the remaining part of the rally.
JAN DE ROOY (HOL -- DAF-- 11th ) - 521
It was marvellous with great landscapes... Concerning the race, I did a small navigation mistake just a few kilometres from the end of the special. I probably lost around ten minutes. It's a shame because I was really managing a good performance. The truck is doing well but really the landscape was incredible today so we enjoyed it as much as possible before tomorrow's long stage.