Stage 8: Thursday 9th January 2003 Liaison: 49 km - Special stage: 497 km - Liaison: 181 km - Total: 727 km O9:28 - One of the most difficult specials in the history of the rally with little assistance. 500kms of splendid landscapes...
Thursday 9th January 2003
Liaison: 49 km - Special stage: 497 km - Liaison: 181 km - Total: 727 km
O9:28 - One of the most difficult specials in the history of the rally with little assistance. 500kms of splendid landscapes accross the mountains of the Akakus that remind the colors of Colorado. On a sporting point of view: lots of off-road navigation and difficult and endless crossings. At the start line in Ghat, the track goes down south to Algeria before going back up to the Akakus mountains with giant dunes and sharp rocks. After 100kms, it'll be time for off-road heading to the famous Murzuk Erg, well known for its 'waves' of sand, last difficulty of the stage. An Erg that should trouble minds and machines.
O9:30 - South Africa's Alfie Cox (KTM - n.2), fifth overall has lost himself in the first 60kms of the special between Ghat and Sabha. Apparently the rider went in a wrong valley and had to turn back to find the right way. He has lost around 20 minutes on his main rivals but is slowly coming back.
O9:43 - At Cp1 after 68kms of the special between Ghat and Sabha, Cyril Despres (KTM - n.7) has the best time ahead of Meoni, Roma, Sala and Brucy. South Africa's Cox is around 15 minutes behind after losing himself in a valley. Overall leader Sainct has the 9th time, 4min04s adrift.
In the virtual overall, it means that the Frenchman now only keeps his leading position by 5secs on Meoni.
O9:43 - After a bad fall before Cp1 after 68kms of the special between Ghat and Sabha, Belgium's Paul Wouters (KTM - n.16) has broken his foot.
10:39 - On the start line of today's special between Ghat and Sabha: 141 bikes. Have pulled out of the race: Deflandre (KTM - n.59), Jansson (Honda - n.107), Pavey (n.155), Deprez (Honda - n.179) and Vandenberghe (Yamaha - n.184).
11:00 - At Cp1 after 68kms of the special between Ghat and Sabha, Hiroshi Masuoka (Mitsubishi - n.200) has the fastest time. Peterhansel (Mitsubishi - n.206) is 1min06s adrift. Third is Shinozuka (Nissan - n.201), is 1min29s behind, followed by De Mevius and De Villiers.
11:01 - At km 245, Alfie Cox (KTM - n.2) has retired from the race after falling and injuring his shoulder. The South African had lost himself before CP1, taking a wrong valley. He is currently in a helicopter heading for Sabha.
11:02 - At km 102, Frenchman Simon Droux (KTM - n.74) has broken a leg after a fall.
11:12 - At CP2 after 277kms of the special, Cyril Despres (KTM - n.7) has the fastest time. Second is Roma (KTM - n.4), 1min20s behind. Coma (KTM - n.10), 2min18s behind. Sainct (KTM - n.3), the overall leader before this stage, is currently 6min 11s adrift which means that in the virtual overall, Meoni (KTM - n.1) is the new leader, 1min14s ahead of the French rider.
11:12 - At km 128, Isidre Esteve Pujol (KTM - n.8) has stopped for mechanical reasons. He appears to have engine problems and is awaiting assistance.
11:18 - At Cp1 after 68kms of the special between Ghat and Sabha, Tchaguine (Kamaz - n. 407) is fighting it out with De Rooy Junior (DAF - n.414) for the best time. So far Tchaguine leads by 15seconds.
11:32 - After Cp1, Tchaguine has overtaken Gerardus De Rooy (DAF - n.414) which means that the Russian has at least a two minute lead on the young Dutchman.
11:34 - At km 230km, Jutta Kleinschmidt (Volkswagen - n.203) has punctured a tyre. Meanwhile the two Mitsubishis are battling it out together which means that Masuoka (n.200) has gained at least two minutes on Peterhansel (n.206).
11:39 - Despite serious suspension worries after yesterday's stage, Jan De Rooy (AF - n.409) has just clocked the second fastest time at CP1 after 68kms. The 1987 rally winner is just 9secs slower than Tchaguine.
Cars: 11:42 - At Cp2 after 277 kms of the special between Ghat and Sabha, Masuoka (Mitsubishi - n.200) has the fastest time so far. He now has a 3min32s advantage on Peterhansel (Mitsubishi - n.206).
12:13 - At Cp2 after 277kms of the special between Ghat and Sabha, Kenjiro Shinozuka (Nissan - n.201) has the fourth time so far, 8min04s behind the fastest time set by Masuoka.
12:30 - At km 356, Ari Vatanen (Nissan - n.204) appears to be having problems on a wheel He has seriously slowed down and is being overtaken by his followers.
12:41 - On the finish line of the bike special after 497kms, Sala (KTM - n.6) clocks the best time of the day. Second is Brucy (KTM n.9), behind at 2min06. Third is Despres (KTM - n.7), followed by Coma (KTM - n.10), Roma (KTM - n.4), Meoni (KTM - n.1) and Sainct (KTM - n.3).
In the new overall standings, Meoni leads ahead of Sainct by 34secs, and Roma by 1min07. Despres is fourth, 4min51 adrift.
13:04 - 16 cars have not started today's stage between Ghat and Sabha: Pojidaev (n.328), Jacquot (n.321), Arnaud (n.316), Komornicki (n.311), Riviere (n.305), Romagny (n.300), De Lorenzo (n.289), Fromont (n.268), Balda (n.267), Salvatore (n.266), Picco (n.261), Roos (n.255), Michigan (n.253), Arnoux (n.240), Vila Altimir (n.238) and Commagnac (n.303).
13:20 - With 4 trucks at CP2 after 277kms, Tchaguine (Kamaz - n.407) has set the best time. He now has a 9min18s lead on De Rooy Junior (DAF - n.414). Kabirov is third, De Azevedo fourth. De Rooy Senior is still expected at CP2.
13:33 - Hiroshi Masuoka (Mitsubishi - n.200) has clocked the fastest time at CP3 after 449kms. He has a 1min55 lead on Peterhansel(mitsubishi - n.206). Third is Fontenay (Mitsubishi - n.202), just under 14minutes behind. Fourth is De Villiers (Nissan - n.217) just under 18minutes behind.
13:35 - Hiroshi Masuoka (Mitsubishi - n.200) has clocked the fastest time of the day in the special going from Ghat to Sabha in Lybia. Peterhansel (Mitsubishi - n.206) is second 5min42s behind.
In the overall, Peterhansel keeps the leadership but is now only 6min39s ahead of Masuoka.
14:21 - Frenchman Jean-Pierre Fontenay (Mitsubishi - n.202) finished third of the day's special, 15min27s off the pace set by winner Masuoka. Fourth is De Mevius (BMW - n.204), 7min16 behind. Fifth is De Villiers (Nissan - n.217) at 19min02. Kleinschmidt (Volkswagen - n.203) is sixth, at 25min59s.
15:11 - Vladimir Tchaguine (Kamaz - n.409) has clocked the fastest time. at CP3 after 449kms He has an 8min06 lead on De Rooy Junior (DAF - 414).
15:24 - At km 555, Qatar's Khalifa Al Mutaiwei (Nissan - n.218) appears to have broken his engine. He is waiting for assistance.
Truck: 15:42 - Vladimir Tchaguine (Kamaz - n.407) claimed stage 8 of the rally in a winning time of 4h48min06. The Russian beat De Rooy (DAF - n.414) by 8min16. Third is De Rooy Senior (DAF - n.409) at 13min37s. In the overall, Tchaguine takes the leadership with a 32sec advantage on De Rooy Junior.