Dakar: Stage 7 Zouerat to Tichit notes

Stage 7: Zouerat to Tichit January 6, 2005 Liaison 9 km - Special 660 km Total 669 km Regular Dakar participants won't be able to use their intimate knowledge of the region as most of the route is new this year. In the motorcycle category,...

Stage 7: Zouerat to Tichit
January 6, 2005
Liaison 9 km - Special 660 km
Total 669 km

Regular Dakar participants won't be able to use their intimate knowledge of the region as most of the route is new this year. In the motorcycle category, there will be a line-up start, in lines of 20. Up to the difficult El Ghall?ou?ya pass, situated between two cliffs, drivers will cross plains and some dune fields.

Stage 7: 2005-01-06, Zouerat to Tichit.
Photo by A.S.O.
The programme will then consist of the crossing of El Mrayer, the "mirror", a series of small ergs, followed by one hundred or so kilometres of camel grass, and terminating with the need to find a pass, the only way to arrive at the Tichit oasis! At the finish, only refreshments are authorised; vehicles are placed in the Parc Ferme. "Real" marathon stages are back on the Dakar programme.


07:43 The longest day...
For the longest special of the rally, the competitor's menu offers many novelties. With a mix between navigation difficulties, camel grass and numerous dunes, the bikers and drivers will have to be patient to avoid all kind of mistakes. Added to that, all vehicles will be entered in a 'parc ferme' where no assistance is authorised. The real 'marathon' stages are back on the Dakar...

A specialist of this type of exercise, yesterday's winners, Fabrizio Meoni in the bike race and Stephane Peterhansel on four wheels, should be serious contenders for victory on a course where experience will pay.

Mechanical worries, late arrivals, injuries, bad luck and withdrawals... All you need to know about what happened on the bivouac during the night.

22h50 -- Vatanen at last
The press had almost forgot about good old Ari when the Finn finally made it to the bivouac late in the evening. After breaking his transmission box at kilometre 150 of the special, Vatanen spent a good part of his day waiting first of all for his assistance vehicle and then for the reparations on his Nissan Pickup. When finally arriving in Zouerat, the multiple Dakar winner remained calm and composed. "We lost seven hours but everything is OK. The moral is still all right, there are far worst things in life. Maybe we didn't do enough testing on the car. Anyhow now I'll do my best to make arrive in Dakar and that's the most important...

23h00 -- Happy birthday Tchaguine
Thankfully, Vladimir Tchaguine doesn't celebrate in the same fashion every time he wins a stage on the Dakar. But the day was special. Not only had the Russian claimed his 32nd ever Dakar special but it was also his ... birthday. A perfect opportunity to drink champagne and eat caviar in the Kamaz family. A party without the two members of the team that suffered a serious crash last night and were taken to the Layoune hospital for further examination and care. Anyhow, the celebration remained quiet with the difficult upcoming stage to prepare and the long days to come. One can expect a big fiesta if Tchaguine claims a fifth win in Dakar.

23h30 -- Gordon's long day
Robby Gordon knew what he was coming for on the Dakar. Was he really expecting such a bad day? After his crash (and flip) just before CP2 (km 300), the American eventually made it to the finish of the stage pushed by an assistance truck. Not really the most triumphant of ways to enter the bivouac. The Volkswagen crew remained stranded in the desert awaiting for assistance and eventually saw help come at 17h00 to try and repair the seriously damaged rear part (breaks...) before being pulled through CP2 and most of the special. Once on the bivouac the whole VW team started deconstructing the Race Touareg and change the necessary parts so that Gordon could carry on his Dakar adventure. "It's a real shame because I think I could have done something good here on this rally. But I'm here to learn.

0h30 -- Work for DAF
After a very very long night indeed, spent working on Gerard De Rooy's truck (damaged after a crash during stage 5), it was this time father Jan De Rooy's vehicle that needed a special 'treatment'. Indeed the elder of the De Rooy family suffered turbo problems on the special.

0h50 -- Sad atmosphere at Nissan...
With the retirement of Colin McRae and the difficult day of Ari Vatanen, the Nissan clan was feeling rather devastated after the day's stage 6. Giniel De Villiers only needed a change of wind screen while the mechanics were still working on Vatanen's car.

1h10 - ...busy at Mitsubishi
No serious worry hit the Mitsubishi team. The title holders went through an excellent day with the performances of Stephane Peterhansel and Hiroshi Masuoka. But to keep up their Dakar rhythm, the mechanics checked and re-checked all the vehicles, especially for the upcoming marathon stage. "Tomorrow, we won't be allowed to give a helping hand so we need the cars to be very reliable and work perfectly well for two days", explained one of the Mitsu mechanics...

3h00 -- Time for a count
190 bikes made it to the bivouac of Zouerat, as well as 143 cars and 60 trucks.


13:36 Walch fastest at CP1
At check point 1 (km256), USA's Kellon Walch (KTM -- n21) had the best time of the bike race. The US rider has a 51" lead on Coma (KTM -- n6) and 2'46" on Despres (KTM -- n2).


13:36 Shinozuka crashes
At km 120 of the day's special, Japan's Kenjiro Shinozuka (NIS -- n319) crashed his Nissan Dessoude car. The vehicle flipped. Both the driver and co-driver are OK.

13:57 race incidents
Before the first CP of the day (km 256) quite a few incidents occurred in the car special : -Alphand (MIT -- n312) was stuck in the sand for a few minutes. -Masuoka (MIT -- n309) damaged the front of his Pajero Evo, under his front left light. -Saby (VW -- n307) also damaged the front of his Race Touareg.

13:58 Schlesser stopped
Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser (SCH -- n300) stopped his two-wheel drive buggy at km 185. Both the driver and co-driver went to check the rear left wheel without however repairing anything. They lost around 4 minutes.


14:14 Walch still ahead
USA's Kellon Walch (KTM -- n21) is still the fastest biker of the special so far. At CP2 (km 397), the KTM rider had 3'12" lead on Sala (KTM -- n14) and 5'30" on Coma (KTM -- n6). Fourth was Fretigne (YAM -- n12) at 6'52", followed by Despres (KTM -- n2) at 7'19".


14:23 Peter fastest at CP1
At the first check point of the car special, Stephane Peterhansel (MIT -- n306) has the best time. Second is Jutta Kleinschmidt (VW -- n310) at only 37".The others are far behind with Al Attiyah (BMW), third, at 4'19" followed by Saby (VW)at 10'24", Alphand (MIT) at 14'52" and Masuoka (MIT) at 19'24".

14:40 Schlesser on the phone
At km 243, Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser (SCH) was seen stopped, et the Gallaouyia Fort. The two-time Dakar winer was outside of his buggy.... On the phone!


15:28 leading 5 at km 500
The first five bikers to have started the special are still riding together (Despres, Cox, Meoni, Coma, Ullevalseter) with Despres and Meoni leading the group most of the time. Behind is a group including virtual special leader Walch.


15:47 Schlesser still stopped
Suffering mechanical problems on the rear left wheel of his buggy, Jean-Louis Schlesser has decided to await his assistance car for possible repairs rather than heading to a tricky dune portion.

16:07 Peter flying to special victory
At the second check point of the car special (km 397), Stephane Peterhansel (MIT --n306) has the fastest time so far and is heading to a probable stage win. Second is Jutta Kleinschmidt (VW) is 8'17" adrift while Nasser Al Attiyah (BMW) is at 11'36". Fourth is Alphand (MIT) over 20' behind and Masuoka at over 27'.


16:40 Tchaguine in trouble
At km 300 of the truck special, overall leader Vladimir Tchaguine (KAM -- n515) was stopped with serious mechanical worries.


16:54 Saby way behind at CP2
Volkswagen driver Bruno Saby eventually made it to check point 2 of the special (km 397) with 39'29" time deficit on the special leader Peterhansel. In The new virtual overall, Peter takes command with a 32' advantage on Saby.


16:55 De Rooy back in the special
After suffering mechanical problems on the front of the DAF truck, due to a dune jump, Jan De Rooy was finally able to carry on the special after repairing.

17:54 Kabirov leads at CP2
At the second check point of the truck special (km 397), Firdaus Kabirov (KAM) had the best time so far. Second is Gerard De Rooy (DAF) at 16'13", ahead of De Azevedo (TAT) at 24'42".


18:35 Fretigne wins special
With 9 bikers on the finish line of stage 7 between Zouerat and Tichit, David Fretigne (YAM) has clocked the fastest time of the day in 9h16'26". The Frenchman beats Marc Coma (KTM) by 3'31. Third is Despres at 5'22 while Gauloises team mate Alfie Cox is at 7'25" and Andy Caldecott at 7'35. Marc Coma takes the overall leadership with a 16" advance on Despres.


19:57 Peterhansel wins special
In a final time of 8h21'57, Stephane Peterhansel (MIT) finished the stage on his own and in winning position. The other competitors were still expected at the finish over 30' after the Frenchman.

20:08 Peter new overall leader
On the finish line of the car special, Stephane Peterhansel (MIT) beat Nasser Al Attiyah (BMW) by a huge 25'40 advantage. Third on the day is Jutta Kleinschmidt (VW) at 26'07 while Alphand (MIT) is fourth at 28'11. Only four cars have so far made it to the finish line. Peterhansel takes command of the overall standings with a 21'32 lead on team mate Luc Alphand.


Due to the very difficult weather conditions during stage 7 between Zouerat and Tichit in Mauritania that forced seven of the nine race helicopters to remain grounded at CP2 (km 397), the following decisions have been taken by the organisation:

Tonight's briefing at 21h00 is cancelled

The briefing will take place at 8h30 tomorrow morning

Stage 8 special between Tichit and Tidjikja will be shortened. It will now be 130kms long (the first 130kms of the normal stage). The remaining part will be covered as a liaison.

The first vehicles will take off later than planned for tomorrow's stage. The first bike will start at 10h and the first car at 12h30
    per the race organisation


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Colin McRae , Jean-Louis Schlesser , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Stéphane Peterhansel , Ari Vatanen , Kenjiro Shinozuka , Fabrizio Meoni , Alfie Cox , Bruno Saby , Marc Coma , David Fretigne , Kellon Walch , Firdaus Kabirov