Bikes: Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM -- 6th) - 002 Every day, on the starting line, I hope to do the difference, but this year the race is very open an all my opponents are very strong. Normally, on the day rest, only 2 or 3 riders can still hope to...
Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM -- 6th) - 002
Every day, on the starting line, I hope to do the difference, but this year the race is very open an all my opponents are very strong. Normally, on the day rest, only 2 or 3 riders can still hope to win, but this year we're still 10! I remember the scrutineering in Barcelona, everybody said that I would win easily this year. Now, there's still a long way to go. Physically I feel fine and my bike has worked perfectly until now. I will ride at the maximum attack level and we'll see.
Fabrizio Meoni (ITA -- KTM -- 2nd) - 004
I'm very angry. Now the navigation is not important on the Dakar Rally anymore. With the corridor rule (between GPS points), even the worst navigators are guaranteed to stay on the good track, because if you just leave that little corridor, the system shows you where to go to find it back. Of course, it's not good for me because navigation is my strong point, but it's not good for the show. For me the Dakar spirit is over. Anyway, the stage wasn't so bad for me. I joined the leading group after CP1, just before my trip system broke. I repaired it during the refuelling. Of course I'm glad to take first position of the overall standings, even though I'm frustrated, because the rally is no longer what it was.
Marc Coma (SPA -- KTM -- 7th) - 006
It was a very hard day today with a lot of navigation on the first part of the stage. With all the wind, it was very difficult to follow the tracks. I understand Fabrizio's anger, but it's very hard for a rider to use all the monitors fixed on the bike. With the rocks to avoid, the roadbook to read and the trip system to follow, it's very hard to stay concentrated. And then, it's the same for everybody. Tomorrow we'll decide of our race strategy with our team manager, Jordi Arcarons. But for the moment, my first wish is to take a bath and have a rest.
Isidre Esteve (SPA -- KTM -- Stage winner) - 007
It was an excellent day. As I started 9th this morning, I rode all day at full speed to catch up the lost time from Thursday. The race leaders did a navigation mistake between CP1 and CP2. So I caught them. Then I rode as fast as I could. The last part of the stage was really interesting to ride. All is perfect because now I'm back in the overall standings. Now, 7 or 8 riders can still hope to win, and that's very good for the show, because everyone will take risks to Dakar. The stage between Zouerat and Tichit was very tricky. I fell after the 20 first kilometres, and damaged my handlebar. Then, at the end, I had no gas left. But the most important thing now is to be in Atar. My physical condition is still very good, so I've kept all my chances for the win.
Andy Caldecott (AUS -- KTM -- 4th) - 023
A good day for me, although the stage was hard with a lot of dune crossings in a very, very soft sand, especially at the end of the stage. But it worked out well. Then I just remained with the other riders, until the finish line. My first goal is to finish the stage every day. Of course, I'll be glad if I get to Dakar with a good position in the overall standings, but there's still a long way to go.
Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 2nd) - 306
40 km before the end of the stage, the engine made a very strange noise. So I drove very carefully and slowly until the finish line to take care of the car. Then, to be sure not to take any risks, we preferred to be towed by Hiroshi (Masuoka) on the two last kilometres to the bivouac. I was a bit anxious, because I wasn't sure the engine wasn't going to blow up. Halfway through the rally, the situation isn't too bad for us. I hadn't started very well but the Mauritanian stages saved me. I haven't managed impressive performances, but being constant was at least a good choice. Our opponents were in the same rhythm, especially in Morocco. But on this stage we knew it would be very difficult to follow the World rally raid championship drivers. The story isn't written, but we can imagine it. Now, we know that every kilometre is difficult on the Dakar Rally. But I remain cool for the moment, especially because our team's position in the overall protects us. So, we have less pressure.
Hiroshi Masuoka (JAP -- MIT 5th) - 309
The landscape was very nice but we hadn't seen so many stones on the rally for a long time. I punctured twice. There was some navigation in the dunes and then the rocky part of the special. But I didn't have too many problems and the car is doing well. I saw Al Attiyah's crashed car and it was impressive. Because I am now way too far in the overall, I will be a very fast assistance for Peter and Alphand. I have spare parts in the car for them. This morning our Japanese head engineer arrived in Atar and he'll check out what the problem is on Peterhansel's car. I'm sure that on Monday, our engines will be as new. The man is a genius.
Jutta Kleinschmidt (GER -- VW - 4th) - 310
I'm happy because we now have a comfortable position in the overall. The rest day is greatly welcomed because I'm tired. I saw the two BMWs that had an accident and it was very impressive.
Luc Alphand (FRA -- Mitsubishi- Stage winner) - 312
It was a hard stage with two very tricky ergs to cross. I even had to deflate the tires. Then we had two punctures because it was very rocky and on this kind of track, if you drive fast you immediately get punctures. I'm very glad to win this stage because I'm under a lot of pressure with this very good car, even if I'm still in the shadow of my team mate Stéphane Peterhansel. But since the beginning of the rally, I proved than I could be a very fast driver. That's good because I was a bit nervous at the beginning. For the moment there's no team rule, but we really should calm down our driving rhythm. We saw a lot of crashes and it isn't necessary to take so many risks. So I think the team manager will give us team rules before Kiffa. We're only just at the rest day, and it's still a long way to Dakar with beautiful stages. If yesterday's stage hadn't been cancelled, we would have built a big gap on Jutta Kleinschmidt, because her car wasn't working very well, while all the Mitsubishi are doing fantastically.
Robbie Gordon ( USA -- VW- 3rd) - 317
It was hard, even more than two days ago on the way to Tichit. I had two punctures. There were a lot of rocks on the track and I really suffered on it. I attacked all day, and I'm a little disappointed to be only third of the stage. The two Mitsubishi went really really fast today, too fast for me. But I'm happy because I really took pleasure in driving on the different types of terrain. But It's frustrating because for me the final battle is over. Now I'll just look for some stage wins and get more experience for next year.
Vladimir Tchaguine (RUS - Kamaz -- Stage winner) - 515
It was a very difficult special but finally, we managed it well. The course was very rocky, with big rocks and stones that damage the truck. But this special victory is not important because yesterday we lost all our chances to win the race. So now we're just the race assistance for Firdaus Kabirov.
Karel Loprais (RTC -- Tatra -- 3rd) - 519
This special was for us. I like to drive on this kind of course, with a lot of tricks to avoid. We wanted to do a good stage to get some time back, but we know it's too late for the podium. Even if we'll do our best until the end. It's nice to be still in race after the awful stage from Zouerat to Tichit, where we were trapped in a chott and took 5 hours to get out. We'll drive as fast as possible until Dakar. It's not in our mentality to give up.
Hans Stacey (HOL -- MAN -- 2nd) - 555
I'm very happy of my day even if I lost 15 minutes with a puncture on the left rear wheel. We didn't take any risk at all today. I'm a little bit disappointed for the overall standings, because we were stopped without gas for more than 8h during yesterday's stage. It was very scary because the engine stopped when we were on the top of a dune and we were very close from rolling over. It's a shame because I was in 2nd position. But we're at the beginning of a three years project and it's already a good surprise to be as competitive for the first year. Especially because I only tested the truck for 100 km. My main goal for this year is to finish in the Top 10.