Dakar: Stage 7 Zouerat to Atar notes

Stage 7 - Zouerat to Atar January 6, 2006 Connection 10 km - Special 499 km - Connection 12 km Total 521 km A tricky pass Navigational finesse will be rewarded during the major difficulty of this first week which will be contested off track.

Stage 7 - Zouerat to Atar
January 6, 2006
Connection 10 km - Special 499 km - Connection 12 km
Total 521 km

A tricky pass
Navigational finesse will be rewarded during the major difficulty of this first week which will be contested off track. Absolutely off-track. Indications will be sparse on the road-book, and those who miss the WPM's will have all their work cut out to find the right passes. After the dunes, competitors will be driving along stony plateaux and slaloming in camel grass.

Stage 7: 2006-01-06, Zou?rat to At?r.
Photo by A.S.O.
10:55: 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!

22h45 -- Last check on the Race Touareg II
In the Volkswagen team, number 307 car returns from a test drive to check out the last details requested by Carlos Sainz. On overall leader Giniel De Villiers' 305, the mechanics have changed the intercooler. Chris Nissen, VW team manager, is impressed by the precision of the details asked by his drivers to the mechanics. "It's surprising because we're still at the beginning of the rally and they all know their cars perfectly. They know what to change to modify the way the car goes."

23h00 -- Big scare for Eric Vigouroux
Eric Vigouroux's Pro Truck is in between he hands of his mechanics that take care of all the front part that was damaged after an accident with biker Simon Droux. "I had started overtaking and he suddenly came out of a rut and was in the middle of the track. I hit him and the noise was so impressive that I thought I had broken all his bones. When I got out of the car, I was petrified. When I saw he was OK, I kissed him because I was so relieved. He was yelling at me but the important thing was that he was fine."

23h25 -- Sleep or not?
Emmanuelle Jannon, the only women riding a quad on this Dakar only just finished her very difficult stage. "I stopped during the liaison before the special to have a rest and I therefore made it late at the start. They let me start but I was forced to ride alone during the whole day. I'm really exhausted". Emmanelle tells another quad rider Antoine Morel that she intends on asking if she can take ff last for the next stage despite the fact that the competitors are supposed to start in the reverse order of the previous special. The answer is clear from the Frenchman: "No, you have to make the best of an early starting position. You won't sleep a lot tonight but at least you'll have all day to cover the stage."

0h15 -- Sand in the engine
A co-driver alongside Stephane Henrard, Antonia de Roissard finishes studying the maps and road book for tomorrow before heading to bed. In the workshop, the mechanics are still changing the filters and getting rid of the sand that has entered the engine of the Volkswagen.

1h00 -- Full tank for Monsieur Jean-Louis
In the Schlesser team workshop, time has come to fill car 314's tank. But an air bubble in the tank prevents the mechanics from totally filling it. The team decides to move the buggy from left to right to help the air get out the same way it entered. "Jean-Louis Schlesser absolutely wanted to take off with a full fuel tank because he's worried about consumption during the stage. He doesn't want to take any risks."

2h40 -- Four hand work
Francesco Tarricone has only just made it to the bivouac. He has only slept 2 hours during the last two days. His rear fuel tank is damaged and the repairs will at least take two hours. Thankfully his mate Attilio Gineipro gives him a helping hand.

2h45 -- Withdrawals
Five bikers are in the broom-wagon truck: Luis Guillen Gonzalez, Manuel Barnes Perez, Peter Stijkel, Leonardo Savini and quad rider Robert Greff. Spanish crew Alejandro Roque -- Octavio Quesada are also in the truck.


06:04 - Time for a battle
Take yesterday's average speed and divide it by two. That's basically the pace the riders will compete at for today's stage. The special will almost be 500km long but it's mainly the presence of three very technical parts that will slow competitors down and maybe even stop them. On these three passages of over 80km each, including the famous El Beyyed erg, all will need to avoid the traps of very soft sand and varied terrain. Shovels will come in handy and the difficulties won't stop there. At several occasions, finding the right way will avoid losing to much time.

For the bikers, the start will take place in the reverse order of the previous stage. That could seriously change the tactics and maybe change the overall standing. Cyril Despres will focus on taking good care of his injured shoulder and probably won't be fighting for the day's win. A technical course specialist, David Fretigne could finally really compete with the bigger KTMs. In the car race, this will be a real test for the Volkswagen Race Touareg II and the Schlesser buggies. This is also the moment that the Mitsubishi team has carefully prepared.


11:15 - Despres has started the special
After suffering a collarbone injury yesterday due to crash, Cyril Despres with a heavily strapped shoulder has started the day's special and looks to be riding well riding alongside his main rivals.

11:22 - Three in lead
On their way to CP1 (km 209) three bikers are currently in the first positions of the bike race and riding together : Vinters, De Azevedo and Casteu.


11:24 - Navigational problems
At km 100 of the car special, some of the favourites are struggling with navigation. It appears that Jean-Louis Schlesser, Giniel de Villiers and several other drivers have chosen the wrong way. Only two cars so far are in the correct direction: Stephane Peterhansel and Thierry Magnaldi.


11:39 - Reverse order for the bikers
Unlike the previous stages, the bikers have taken off in the reverse order of yesterday's stage. In other words, Carlo De Gavardo was the last to take off. Currently De Gavardo, Esteve and Despres appear to be riding together.

12:03 - De Gavardo fastest at CP1
Taking off last this morning, Chile's Carlo De Gavardo has clocked the fastest time at CP1 (km 209). Second is overall leader Marc Coma, 56" adrift. Third is Giovanni Sala at 1'36", followed by Ullevalseter at 6'19", Fretigne at 7'14", Esteve at 7'16".

12:14 - Despres loses time
After taking off this morning with a dislocated collarbone, Cyril Despres has lost time on his main rivals at CP2 (km 209). The Frenchman has indeed lost close to 20'.


12:29 - Schlesser back on the right track
Jean-Louis Schlesser, second of yesterday's special who had taken a wrong way, is now back in the right direction. He appears to have moved closer to Peterhansel who seemed to be the fastest of the day's special. Several other drivers are still looking for the right track.


12:30 - 205 cars and trucks still in the race
205 cars and rucks have started the day's special and are stil in the race. Only two vehicles failed to take off: Inocencio (366) and Benedi (432).


12:47 - All favourites on good track
All the main favourites of the car race are back in the good direction and on their way to CP1. Jean-Louis Schlesser appears to be driving with team mate Magnaldi and Chicherit (BMW) while Peterhasel and Alphand (both on Mitsubishi) are slightly ahead.

13:10 - Peter fastest at CP1
Three cars have made it so far at CP1 (km 209) and the fastest time is for Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi). The double title-holder who managed to find the correct way has a 2'14" advantage on teammate Luc Alphand who had taken off two minutes before him his morning at the start of the special. Third so far is Jutta Kleinschmidt (Volkswagen), 6'20" adrift.

13:25 - Alphand virtually overall leader
Second fastest at CP1 (km 209) Luc Alphand is virtually the new overall leader of the race. The Frenchman would have a lead of over 2' on Kleinschmidt and over 6' on De Villiers. The South African lost some 8'19" on Alphand at CP1 and 10'21 on Peterhansel, the fastest so far.

13:30 - Schlesser buggies lose time at CP1
Both Schlesser buggies of Jean-Louis Schlesser and Thierry Magnaldi have lost over 30' on Stehane Peterhansel at CP1 (km 209). Schlesser was 32'31" adrift while Magnaldi lost close to 35'.

13:48 - Problems for Saby
Before CP1 (km 209), Bruno Saby was seen stopped and working on his Volkswagen Race Touareg. The Frenchman then carried on driving and has lost close to 40' on the fastest driver Stephane Peterhansel.

13:54 - Bad day for Sainz
At CP1 (km 209), Carlos Sainz, winner of three stages so far, has lost over 35' on the fastest driver so far: Stephane Peterhansel. The Spaniard was seen stuck in the sand before CP1. A better day on the other hand for Marc Miller (Volkswagen) third so far, just under 6' adrift.


14:18 - De Gavardo fastest at CP2
At the second check point of the day (km 355), Carlo De Gavardo, last to start the day's special, still had the fastest time. The Chilean had a 1'16 lead on overall leader Marc Coma, 1'53" on Giovanni Sala, 3'37" on Esteve and 7'49" on Ullevalseter.

14:25 - Despres close to 25' adrift at CP2
Title holder Cyril Despres riding alongside his team mate and support rider Michel Gau has made it to CP2 (km 355) and has lost over 25' on he fastest rider Carlo De Gavardo.

14:44 - Grider quits race
US rider Andy Grider was forced to quit the Dakar after suffering a crash. The KTM Red Bull biker was taken by helicopter to the Atar medical centre but his injuries are not to serious.


14:56 - Miller crashes
US driver Marc Miller suffered a crash at km 310. The Vokswagen Race Touareg is on its roof. Both the driver and the co-driver are not injured.

15:00 - Peterhansel fastest at CP2
Three cars have made it at CP2 and again Stephane Peterhansel has the fastest time. The title holder can enjoy a 3'19" lead on Mitsubishi team mate Luc Alphand. Jutta Kleinschmidt is currently third at over 7'.

15:12 - De Villiers over 25' adrift
Overall leader before this stage, Giniel De Villiers has just made it to CP2 (km 355) and has lost 26'15" on Peterhansel, fastest so far.


15:16 - Farres Guel falls
Spaniard Gerard Farres Guel who was riding in the race lead alongside overall leader Marc Coma, suffered a fall at km 399. He's back on his bike and riding.


15:52 - Big time loss for Sainz
Carlos Sainz who was seen struggling in the sand dunes made it to CP2 with a 47'05" deficit. Nani Roma has lost some 44'.


16:00 - De Gavardo wins second in a row
Carlo De Gavardo who took off last of the bikers this morning has managed the best time of the day on the finish line of the stage between Zouerat and Atar. The Chilean beats KTM Repsol team mates Marc Coma by 1'27" and Giovanni Sala by 2'. Fourth is Isidre Esteve at 4'29".


16:02 - Tchaguine in trouble
At km 290 of the day's stage, overall truck leader Vladimir Chagin was seen stuck in the sand. His big Kamaz truck has been stopped for the last hour


16:09 - Saby stopped again
With 20kms to go before CP2, Bruno Saby who had already suffered mechanical problems was seen stopped to repair. Stephane Henrard also on a Race Touareg appears to be giving him spare parts.

16:37 - Peterhansel wins special
Title holder Stephane Peterhansel clinched his second stage success of the rally (after Tan Tan). The Mitsubishi driver beat team mate Luc Alphand by 4'23". Third is Jutta Kleinschmidt (Volkswagen), 12'47" adrift.


16:46 - Despres loses over 30'
Frenchman Cyril Despres eventually made it to the finish line despite his injured shoulder. The title holder lost a total of 30'23" on the day's winner Carlo de Gavardo


17:09 - Sainz loses over 30'
Carlos Sainz eventually made it to the finish line of the day's special. The Spaniard who lost precious time stuck in the sand lost over 30' on the special. Team mate and former overal leader Giniel De Villiers lost over 16'.

17:11 - Alphand new overall leader
Second of the day's stage, Luc Alphand (Mitsubishi) is the new overall leader. The Frenchman has a 3'12" lead on team mate Stephane Peterhansel. Third is Jutta Kleinchmidt at 5'58".


18:34 - 5 trucks at CP2
Defending truck division champion, Russian Firadus Kabirov at the command of a Kamaz has posted the best intermediate time with an 11'41" lead from Brazilian Andre De Azevedo. Vladimir Chagin, stuck in the sand at km 290 for a very long time, has re-started and as in his way to CP2


18:40 - Cleared horizon for 'Mitsu'
After the arrival of eight cars, the situation in the overall standings has completely changed from yesterday. Alphand and "Peter" are closely followed by Jutta Kleinschmidt, the best placed Volkswagen (at 5'58"), but the threats behind are less worrisome. De Viilliers is 4th at 10'04" and Sainz is 5th at 28'41". Jean-Louis Schlesser lost 1h09' to Peterhansel, who celebrates his 50th stage win all categories included.


19:45 - Chagin passes CP2
The overall leader, who remained immobile at km 290 of the stage, has passed CP2 one hour and ten seconds behind team mate Firdaus Kabirov. With the gaps registered, Chagin still retains the lead in the standings, because he began the stage with a two-hour lead from tea mate Kabirov.

21:29 - Victory for Hans Stacey
Holland's Hans Stacey grasped victory on today's stage from Firdaus Kabirov, who had set the best time at CP2, by a 2'29" margin, after 499 kms of timed section. The misadventure of Vladimir Chagin, who spent an eternity stuck in the sand, shook up the overall standings, because the Russian's lead was reduced to 1h22' from Kabirov.


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Luc Alphand , Jean-Louis Schlesser , Stéphane Henrard , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Stéphane Peterhansel , Giniel de Villiers , Cyril Despres , Giovanni Sala , Bruno Saby , Nani Roma , Marc Coma , Carlo de Gavardo , David Fretigne , Vladimir Chagin , Firdaus Kabirov , Antonia de Roissard , Michel Gau , Andy Grider , Thierry Magnaldi , Francesco Tarricone , Hans Stacey , Antoine Morel , Marc Miller , Gerard Farres