Dakar: Stage 6 Smara to Zouerat quotes

Motorcycles Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM -- 4th of the stage) - 002 It was a beautiful stage, inspite of the very strong wind. In fact, this morning, we rode with the bike at an angle of maybe 15 or 20°. A part of that, we knew the 250 first ...

Motorcycles

Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM -- 4th of the stage) - 002
It was a beautiful stage, inspite of the very strong wind. In fact, this morning, we rode with the bike at an angle of maybe 15 or 20°. A part of that, we knew the 250 first kilometres, would be very fast, but you need to be really focused on the track because it goes left and right and it was very easy to lose it with all that sand. Caldecott and Coma started very fast in the first part, and earned a lot of time on us. But we knew that all could be changed at the end of the stage with the new navigation system. And that's what happened. In the last 20 km, they lost all the time they had won on the 250 first kms. For the moment I don't worry about the overall, because as we've seen today, it's very easy to lose time with navigation mistakes. It's an important part of this Dakar 2005 and I really think that the next stages with navigation and less GPS points could still have their surprises.

Alfie Cox (AFS -- KTM -- 3rd of the stage) - 003
A very good day for me. In fact since my mistake of the first stage, my Dakar is going better every day, my shoulder is less painful every day, and doesn't bother me at all on the bike, even if I still feel it a little. In fact the big problem today was the wind, because at each jump, you have to be very careful at the landing. It's very easy to fall. Other than that, with the sand we couldn't see anything, and it made the navigation difficult. The fact that there are less GPS points is good, because the talented navigators like Meoni can make the difference. That's very good for the interest of the race, but it'll be very hard for all the new participants.

Fabrizio Meoni (ITA -- KTM -- winner of the stage) - 004
It was a beautiful stage today. I'm very happy. I 've always said that for me the Rally was to begin in Mauritania, because yesterday's stage wasn't designed for me. I only like navigation and sand... All the way to the first CP, the first riders were at a very high pace, and if I had done the same, I would have burned my front tyre bib. But 100 km later, there were no more tracks on the road in front of me and I had caught up a 12' deficit. Then, I rode with Despres and Cox. Last year, I had lost the rally here, because of my bib, so I was scared to do the same. In fact, at the end of the stage, I suffered that problem so I reduced the pace, but with my good navigation, I won.

Pal Anders Ullevalseter (NOR -- KTM -- 2nd of the stage) - 005
Everything went well for me today. The sand wind was very strong, but as a Norwegian I'm used to these kind of extreme conditions, except in my country it's snow and not sand. But behind the handle bar it's the same thing. With Dabrowski, we rode very fast in the first part of the stage. Then, on the navigation sector, I trusted my instinct and it worked very well. The only problem was the incredible softness of the sand, but I'm very confident for the following days.

Marc Coma (ESP -- KTM -- 5th of the stage) - 006
I'm very happy of my stage. I rode very well to the CP1, with high speeds of over 180 km/h. In fact, at the beginning of the stage, it was easier to ride with Caldecott. But then, I made a navigation mistake that cost me a few minutes. The guys behind us just had to follow our tracks so it was easier for them. The most important thing is that I'm very happy with the team work we managed today with Esteve.

Cars

Jean-Louis Schlesser (FRA -- Schlesser -- 4ème de la spéciale) - 300
I took a lot of pleasure today. At last we arrived in the stages designed for my buggy, where experience and reliability are very important. Today, because of the wind, the stage was very tricky, even dangerous, and I'm really happy to have done such a good stage. My first goal was to be in the top ten in Zouerat, and I'm tenth overall today so it's good. Before making it here, the tracks were too fast for me but I knew it. My co-driver has done a perfect work today with the navigation. Now we will see which cars are reliable and which ones are not.

Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- Stage winner) - 306
The day wasn't too bad for us. However, I thought we weren't doing well because of a puncture after only 180 km. All the cars we had overtaken were passing by. I needed to go full speed to catch them back, then overtake them again. I took some risks today because I had to catch up some lost time. And it worked. We're back for the overall classification, even if the race is still very long and a lot of things will still happen. I still have a little cold but the doctors gave me their word that it'll soon be finished. Going fast is very tiring because it's difficult to stay focused. And now, I can say that I'm exhausted.

Bruno Saby (FRA -- VW -- 3rd) - 307
It was a hard day, but not bad for us. We had a puncture at the end of the stage, but nothing serious. With the wind, we couldn't see the track, so I preferred to take the time to find my way. You have to stay focused all the stage, because even if the track looks good, a trap can always occur at any moment. We didn't think we would take the overall leadership, even if it's very good for Volkswagen. However, my goal is to keep a regular rhythm to be on the podium in Dakar. For the final victory, Mitsubishi still has a bigger experience than us.

Luc Alphand (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 3rd) - 312
I tried to stay very cool today. On the last part of the stage, we were with Jutta Kleinschmidt and Bruno Saby, playing 'cat and mouse'. It was a tricky game because we were opening the track, as the bikers had chosen a different road. So, third place is good, it's especially good for the overall standings. We saw today what happened to the guys who wanted to drive at a too high rhythm, like Gordon or McRae. Especially with the poor visibility we had today, with all that wind. With the first dunes, we've begun the real Africa rally, and it'll be more difficult tomorrow with the first marathon stage.

Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT -- BMW -- 5th) - 318
It was still a good day for us. The car worked very well in the sand, even when I did a little mistake in a dune jump. The front of the car touched the ground, but nothing serious happened. I was lucky because just before the first marathon stage, my goal was to take care of the car. We had no problem and that's good because of the poor visibility we had with the sand wind.

Trucks

Andre De Azevedo (BRE -- Tatra -- 3rd) - 518
For the moment, everything is allright. It's a surprise for me to be third of the overall standings after the second real stage of the Dakar. But I know my capacities and those of the other drivers. Tchaguine, and even the De Rooys' who are still in the race, are really better than us. If I'm at this place it's also because my rivals have made mistakes. But that's also the Dakar Rally. One of my advantage is to know the terrain well. I've competed in ten Dakars on a bike and it's my seventh in a truck. I have a great feeling on the piste. I improve every year but I still have a long way to go.

Karel Loprais (RTC -- Tatra -- 5th) - 519
This year, we had prepared for a good performance unfortunately he injured his spin during tests. We therefore only have one Tatra truck in the race. The battle with the Kamaz team is still unfair. It's david against Goliath. The difference between the two engines isn't that big but their breaks and their gear box are really better. We try our best to be as good. I am bit of a crazy oldtimer who wants to take risks and although we're not as fast as before I'm not here for a walk in the park. The podium will tough to reach We'll know more in two days after the marathon stage.

-www.dakar.com

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Luc Alphand , Jean-Louis Schlesser , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Stéphane Peterhansel , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Bruno Saby , Karel Loprais , Marc Coma , Pal Anders Ullevalseter