Motorcycles CYRIL DESPRES (FRA -- KTM -- 3rd) - 002 At last, we really started the rally. With a tricky stage to begin with. I had a problem with my first trip master, the highest placed on the bike, where we can see all the dangers of the...
CYRIL DESPRES (FRA -- KTM -- 3rd) - 002
At last, we really started the rally. With a tricky stage to begin with. I had a problem with my first trip master, the highest placed on the bike, where we can see all the dangers of the track just in front of the eyes. Suddenly it stopped working after only 4 kms. Of course, we've got a spare one, but placed lower on the bike, so I had a visual gymnastic to do, which I'm not used to. It was a little bit disturbed by that. I tried not to focus on that and to keep riding quickly. But it wasn't easy because I was opening the road 110 km after the start, due to the fact that Frétigné had lost himself. So in these conditions, I'm happy of my day.
MARC COMA ( ESP - KTM -- 2nd) - 006
The first stage in Morrocco is very dangerous, especially with the dust. You have to follow the road book very well, to avoid mistakes. I lost my friend Jordi (Duran) today. That's a shame for him, but for the team too because we all need each other to go to Dakar. Apart from that, I'm happy with my day. It was a very winding track, mentally demanding because of the many changes in rhythm. You have to keep focused on the way. With a lot of "oueds". After the refuelling, Alfie (Cox) caught me and we rode together to the finish line. The bike is perfect. Now, I took the leadership, but it's not so important because there's still a long way and many kilometres to Dakar. Even if it's a nice feeling to be the leader of this race, without winning a single stage until now.
ISIDRE ESTEVE PUJOL (ESP -- KTM -- 5th) - 007
It was a very hard day, today. I started behind a lot of competitors and on the early 100 km, there was so much dust that we couldn't overtake at all. But the most important today was to keep the bike as perfect as possible. In fact, the classification is especially important for the order of start tomorrow. Last year, I started very quickly, to finish very far in the classification. So this year I try to do the contrary, riding very carefully to Mauritania, where another Dakar will start. I had to be very careful and focused on the navigation, which cost me a lot last year. But the race shall be very interesting, because there's a lot of young riders who want to win stages. So, I prepared my self very well this year, I did a lot of work, with a good year in the Offroad World Cup. And I tried to do the same here.
DAVID FRETIGNE (FRA -- Yam -- 7th) - 012
I lost my way at the 75 km mark by following two 4X4 than I overtook carefully. Just after I had a big shock in a hole, my suspensions saved my life. But just after I hit a second hole, not mentioned on the road book. So I thought I was lost, I stopped to look back, and there I saw the other competitors very far behind me but on another way. So I turned back during maybe 4 kms. It's a shame, but my day wasn't so bad, because I'm very happy with my bike. On the 'chott', I drove at 150km/h, flat out, but the others were still overtaking. Compared to the KTM, I'm used to losing half an hour on these kind of stages, but today I just lost some minutes. That's very good. Now, I'm very confident on my bike, I take a lot of pleasure on the track by pushing very hard.
ANDY CALDECOTT (AUS -- KTM -- 1st) - 023
It's a very good day for me. There were so many rocks on the track and that was very tricky. So, I rode very carefully. I scared myself 2 or 3 times by going a little too fast in tight corners. I had no problem at all, but I prefer to be more careful. Then, on the second part of the stage, I took good care of the tires. I know this kind of track well because it's very similar to the ones. I'm used to ride in Australia. So I had fun today.
Stéphane Peterhansel ( FRA - Mitsubishi -- 16th) - 306
I've been having a big cold since a few days, and it was very hard for me to keep focused. So, I couldn't avoid the rocks on the tracks and I had three punctures, every time on the rear wheels. But it's not the fault of the tires. It just my fault.
Colin McRae (GBR -- KTM -- 1st) - 308
We had a puncture in the rocky portion at the beginning of the stage. That's the classical trap of these kind of stages. One can drive as carefully as possible, it's still impossible to avoid such a problem. But it can happen to everyone, so it's only at the end of the stage that you know witch one has had the less punctures. Anyway, everything went well for me today, especially on the 'chott' section where it was very fun to drive. Of course , it's very good for me and for the team to win the stage and take the leadership of the overall standings, but we're just at the beginning of a very long race. Tomorrow we'll start in first position, but it's not a real advantage because there's no track and we shall open the road with a lot of navigation. That's a little tricky, but I trust Tina (Thorner) for her good work tomorrow.
Jutta Kleinschmidt (ALL -- VW- 3rd) - 310
I'm very happy of my day. I started in 5th position this morning, so there was a lot of dust and I couldn't overtake those I caught at CP1. I think I could have gone faster today, but that's the rule of the Dakar Rally. For me everything is going well and the car is working perfectly. The Nissan managed a really good stage today, but that's normal with their very powerful engine. But you know, there's a lot of change of ground in the Dakar Rally and tomorrow the sand begins. So we'll see in the dunes how the different cars really work.
Luc Alphand (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 5th) - 312
We had a puncture at the beginning of the stage and the Nissans gave everything to leave us 3' behind. And that also went for Jutta Kleinschmidt who also overtook me. In fact, I restarted just behind the 3 Volkswagen and I preferred to take it easy and not overtake them again, because they were probably waiting for a mistake on my behalf. I tried to drive a smart race, without going full speed, but it was a good stage to begin the real rally. Today, my worry was not to break the car with all the rocks on the road. At least we're in the heat of the race and tomorrow we'll have a beautiful stage with lots of sand at the end. It will be a very tactical race, you can see that Mitsubishi is not alone any more, although that isn't a real surprise. Our car is really very easy to drive and I'm beginning to have a good rhythm behind the steering wheel.
Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah (QAT -- BMW -- 4th) - 318
It was a really good day for me. My position at the end is a bit surprising for me, because I didn't attack a lot not wanting to destroy the car. But in fact everything went perfectly. I had very good feelings with the car. Of course, I'm very happy with the 4th place, but I know the race is still very long, so I take it stage by stage. I still have a lot to learn and I just try to do my best. I feel really at home in this new team and I'm so happy to be there, that I enjoy each moment with great pleasure.