Dakar: Stage seven report

Fretigne wins special, Peter takes command on four wheels In the longest special of the Telefonica Dakar 2005 rally, David Fretigne made the best of his lighter Yamaha 450cc to win the bike race while Marc Coma, second, conquers the overall ...

Fretigne wins special, Peter takes command on four wheels

In the longest special of the Telefonica Dakar 2005 rally, David Fretigne made the best of his lighter Yamaha 450cc to win the bike race while Marc Coma, second, conquers the overall leadership. In the car category, Stephane Peterhansel showed that he was the boss with his second consecutive win in impressive fashion. The Frenchman now has a comfortable overall lead.

Dunes, camel grass, sand and even more sand... The day promised to be extremely difficult for all the competitors and the horrible visibility made things even worst for the bikers. Not a worry however for newcomer Kellon Walch who took advantage of his late starting position to capture the best times at the first two check points (km 256 and 397). But the real serious business was then to start. Indeed the last 263kms were covered in over 4 hours for the best bikers, in other words a real nightmare for the best bikers. And in the soft sand of Mauritania, David Fretigne proved to be the most impressive despite the fact that he was not using his two wheel drive system for technical reasons. The Frenchman crossed the finish line on his own with a 3'31 advantage on Coma and 5'22 on Despres (both riders having spent the day together alongside Meoni, Cox and Ullevalseter). Meanwhile, the veru promising Kellon Walch discovered what the Dakar really was all about. The young 21 year old American from the KTM Red Bull, finished the special close to 20' behind the day's winner.

In the overall, Spaniard Coma takes the leadership but with the slimmest of margins (16") on Despres. Halfway through this marathon stage, the bike race is as exciting as can be. Indeed the leading 6 riders overall (Coma, Despres, Caldecott, Cox, Meoni and Fretigne) are all within an 8' gap...

The car event saw Stephane Peterhansel (MIT) claim his second consecutive success in impressive fashion. Taking off in first position of the special after his win in Zouerat, the flying Frenchman proved how badly he wanted a second Dakar crown. The puncture worries in Smara are far behind, and the title holders bad cold seems to have disappeared. From start to finish, 'Peter' flew to an impressive victory, clocking best times at all CPs and making it to the finish with a glorious 25' lead on Nasser At Attiyah (BMW). And it all looked so easy... No punctures, no damage, and an impressive final time of 8h21'57". Behind the main interest concerned the battle for second spot and Nasser Al Attiyah proved that he would be one to count on for the remaining part of the rally in his BMW X-Raid. Third on the day was Jutta Kleinschmidt (VW) at 26'07".

In the overall Peterhansel conquers the lead and has an interesting 21' lead on team mate Luc Alphand. Again, the fight for second spot is very close with Alphand, Kleinschmidt and Al Attiyah all within 2'.

While Peter was flying to stage triumph, it was a whole different story for Jean-Louis Schlesser (SCH) and Ari Vatanen (NIS) who were forced to stop and repair mechanical problems before CP1 (km 256) and were still expected in the late hours of the night at the bivouac (and possibly the early hours of the day...). Former Dakar winner in 1997, Kenjiro Shinozuka (NIS) suffered a severe crash at km 120 and had to retire from the race. Both the Japanese driver and his co-driver Pascal Maimon were taken to Tichit by helicopter. Maimon suffering from slight back and neck pains.

-www.dakar.com

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Series Dakar
Drivers Luc Alphand , Jean-Louis Schlesser , Stéphane Peterhansel , Ari Vatanen , Pascal Maimon , Kenjiro Shinozuka , David Fretigne , Kellon Walch