Dakar: Stage 7 Zouerat to Atar quotes

Stage 7 - Zouerat to Atar January 6, 2006 Connection 10 km - Special 499 km - Connection 12 km Total 521 km Bike: Pal Anders Ullevalseter (NOR -- KTM -- 5th) "Finishing 5th is an excellent result for me, because I can't follow the rhythm of...

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

Bike:

Pal Anders Ullevalseter (NOR -- KTM -- 5th)
"Finishing 5th is an excellent result for me, because I can't follow the rhythm of the top riders. So, my strategy is to follow them and seize the opportunity if they have a problem. So, I tried to ride as clean as I can and make no mistakes. It wasn't easy, and at the beginning I made the wrong choice between a lot of tracks. I lost maybe two minutes. Then, I saw Frétigné fell down but he seemed ok so I continued my race but more carefully. I've lost few minutes more on Carlo (De Gavardo), but I don't mind, because the most important for me was to arrive in one piece at the bivouac where I gave up last year."

Pal Anders Ullevalseter (NOR -- KTM -- 5th)
"Finishing 5th is an excellent result for me, because I can't follow the rhythm of the top riders. So, my strategy is to follow them and seize the opportunity if they have a problem. So, I tried to ride as clean as I can and make no mistakes. It wasn't easy, and at the beginning I made the wrong choice between a lot of tracks. I lost maybe two minutes. Then, I saw Frétigné fell down but he seemed ok so I continued my race but more carefully. I've lost few minutes more on Carlo (De Gavardo), but I don't mind, because the most important for me was to arrive in one piece at the bivouac where I gave up last year."

Marc Coma (ESP -- KTM -- 2ème)
"Today, I suffered a lot but I also really enjoy myself. With this invert start list, you realise that that there is a lot people on the rally. And many tracks to follow. But you can't trust any of them. You only have to stick to your road book, and that's it. Everything went on well, except when I realised that I had a flat tyre. I complete the stage with this flat tyre, with no special problem. I am happy since I was riding in front of the race. So far, the bike is good, and so is the team."

Carlo de Gavardo (CHI -- KTM -- 1st)
"Today, we realised how tough the Dakar can be. There has been kilometres of dunes and stones, and a lot of navigation as well. And today's stage was very physically demanding. What's more, we had to remains very focussed on every detail till the end. At once, I could see Coma. I wanted to catch him up, but I fell. It was not serious, but it really illustrates what the Dakar is. You can't afford any mistake et remain focussed on everything till the last stage. But sincerely, I won today thanks to my mechanic Roberto and Jordi Arcarons. Every morning, when I take the bike, I know it will work perfectly well. And it gives you the confidence you need to really ride for victory. "

Isidre Esteve (Esp -- KTM -- 4th)
"I am very tired since the stage was very difficult, with a huge off road program. I am very satisfied with my 4th place because I will start in a good place tomorrow for the last huge stage before the rest day. I hope I will have the opportunity to launch an attack. There is still two stages to complete in Mauritania, and they will surely determine the final classification. Today, many riders fell and I tried to seize this opportunity. This morning I asked David Casteu to stay with me in case of trouble. And he did so. So did Michel Gau with Cyril. It has been a very difficult day for Cyril. Even if he lost a lot of time, the most important for him was to be here in Atar tonight. His shoulder will improve day by day and I am sure he will soon be able to ride at his usual pace."

Cyril Despres (Fra -- KTM -- 9th)
"Sincerely , this morning, I thought I could not ride. But the pain was in fact totally bearable, and at least my shoulder was far less painful than I thought. Of course, it still hurts a lot since the muscles contract and I suffer from my neck. It was almost easier for me today in the camel grass since on the rocky passages, the bike was taping a lot. On the other hand, in the dunes I remained sited and it went on quite well. I would really like to thank the doctors of the organisation. If they hadn't done such a good job, I couldn't have rode the stage today. With the same injury a banker would have stopped working for one week, and I had to go on in spite of the pain. Today the attention of the media focuses on me since I wear the n°1 jersey. But many amateurs surely suffer much more than I do. In Lisbon, I wanted to win the Dakar. Of course, it is not definitely over but now I will take it stage by stage. And we will see how things can evolve. Anyway, I am very happy to be here. Falling is part of the game, you have to accept it. If you don't it means that you think you are stronger than the desert. And if you think, it is even not worth taking the start of the race."

Car:

Jutta Kleinschmidt (ALL -- VW -- 3rd)
"We had many problems today. We punctured three times so I ran out of spare tyres. After the third puncture, we had to deflate and inflate the tyres according to the kind of track we had to negotiate. The main thing was not to puncture again and risk to be stuck on the track, obliged to wait for the assistance car. So I am surprised we lost so little time. Apart from this, we got lost in the beginning of the stage. But, nothing serious".

Giniel De Villiers (AFS -- VW -- 4th)
"It was obviously the most difficult stage so far. We got lost at kilometre 100 with Schlesser. We had many difficulties to find our way back to the good track. But when we did, we drove fast , so that we didn't lose too much time.. There was a lot of camel grass, what is not good for both the car and the crew. But, it is part of the game. Tomorrow, the Mitsubishi will open the track. It should change the game."

Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 1st)
"That was a good day for me but not perfect. I made mistakes at the end of the speciale but I am now second at the overall standing. It is really important to reach the top 3 now in Mauritania. I had a punctured tire at km 400 and I was stuck in dunes later, I lost a few minutes. I hesitated a little bit at km 330. When you don't lose your way in the desert, you always find navigation easy. I already lost 18 minutes in Morocco because of a big navigation mistake. So my opinion is still the same : the final winner of Le Dakar will be the one who would make the fewest mistakes. Mauritania is my playground, I opened the course most of the time today, especially when I overtook Luc Alphand, I had no issue with dust. I am quite surprised by the split with the other competitors. I thought that they would be stronger. Tomorrow will be a fierce competition again. Anything is still possible. My 50th victory today in Le Dakar like the record of Vatanen ? It's great because Ari (Vatanen) was an idol for me when I was a child. "

Luc Alphand (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 2nd)
"We drove very fast today. When Peterhansel overtook me, I was so impressed by him, I could just follow him, nothing more. He opened the course most of the time, which I do prefer because I wouldn't be sure to drive faster with camel grass on the road. But we didn't have a specific strategy for this stage. I was stuck in dunes 70 km before the end of the stage, I was frustrated because I lost something like 10 minutes. Tonight I am the leader of the race but you know, the road to Dakar is still long and you can lose easily 15 fifteen minutes in a clinch. Tomorrow, I will have to catch up with Peterhansel very early to keep a good pace."

Nani Roma (ESP -- Mitsubishi -- 5th)
"That was not a great day for me but it could have been worse. I made some mistakes of navigation, I lost some time, especially when I was stuck in dunes while I was driving close to Carlos Sainz. I'm still surprised by my results as a car driver because it's really difficult to drive with camel grass on the road. When I switched to car category, I said to myself that I would have to learn a lot. This year is just my second Dakar and I'm pretty glad."

Carlos Sainz (ESP -- VW -- 6th)
"This stage has been really difficult for two main reasons. Firstable, I was stuck in dunes and I lost 30 minutes to get out of it meter by meter. Secondly, I lost the power steering 80 km far from the end of the stage and I put all pressure on my left wrist. It was horrible. As for the overall standing, it's getting difficult when you lose 35 minutes. But I'm going to attack again if I have the opportunity. "

Benoit Rousselot (Fra -- Nissan -- 1st T2 Class)
"We made a great stage today. Yet we hadn't really attacked. We just tried to make a smart race by keeping a good pace, but without taking too many risks. It was important to be ready today and so we were. We've been waiting for this stage since last week, because we knew it would be a climax of the rally. We slept ten hours last night to be really fit today. And it worked. We stayed focused all the day on navigation, driving and management of the car. It's a pity we had this problem yesterday, because we could have had a big gap at the overall standings. Anyway, we take the leadership back in the T2 class, just one day after loosing it. All we need now is making no mistakes in the next two Mauritanian stages."

Truck:

Firdaus Kabirov (RUS -- Kamaz -- 2nd)
"It is not my first experience in a stage like that. I know how to drive in sand, I did very well in dunes today. Nevertheless I had to drive slowly some times, which make me feel pain in the back because of an accident five months ago. I also had some problem with the gear box and I had to stop 30 minutes to fix this issue. "

Andre De Azevedo (BRE -- Tatra -- 3rd)
"It was the first my copilot came in the desert. We hesitated a bit in the first kilometres, but then, he adapted himself to the course. We collaborated together quite well since I did ten Dakar on a motorbike without a GPS. On some dunes a bit more difficult than the others, we slowed down to make sure that we were on the good way. We got planted once in the sand. I deflated the tyres, drove back and then we were out. We only lost ten minutes. I am happy about the result since it was a tiring stage which lasted more than nine hours. I am looking forward to being in the second part of the rally which looks very much like the ground on which I practice in Brazil."

Hans Stacey (NED - MAN - 1st)
"I am very happy today since it my second win on the rally (17th stage in 2004 on a DAF) but the first with my new team. It has really not been easy. This morning, we started second, just behind Chagin and we have been fighting together for almost half the stage. Then we made a navigation mistake which coasted us half an hour. Then we made our race, without thinking about him. Unfortunately, we got stuck three times in a very soft sand. When we came back on the track we saw Kabirov passing in front of is. So I thought Chagin was far ahead. But we punctured and Kabirov passed us once again. Then, I drove as fast as I could to catch him up. I overtook him and managed to make a small advantage. And when I got here in the bivouac, I was that we had won the stage. Actually, Chagin had lost forty minutes in the sand. I am very proud of our team since our goal on the rally was to win a stage. We did it, and what's more it is one of the most difficult stages I have ever completed."

-dakar.com-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Luc Alphand , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Stéphane Peterhansel , Cyril Despres , Nani Roma , Marc Coma , Carlo de Gavardo , Jordi Arcarons , Benoit Rousselot , Firdaus Kabirov , Pal Anders Ullevalseter , David Casteu , Michel Gau , Hans Stacey