Zouerat - Atar Connection: 4 km - Special: 542 km - Connection: 34 km Total: 580 km Bike: Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM Gauloises -- Winner of the special stage) Of course it was a great day, but my enthusiasm is a bit undermined. Ok I gained 10...
Zouerat - Atar
Connection: 4 km - Special: 542 km - Connection: 34 km
Total: 580 km
Cyril Despres (FRA -- KTM Gauloises -- Winner of the special stage)
Of course it was a great day, but my enthusiasm is a bit undermined. Ok I gained 10 minutes back but I might have gained 10 more if the special stage had been run in full. So it's a pity. There was a lot of navigating this morning and I think that Marc and Isidre must have made a mistake. I don't really think it was an advantage to start later because with the strong wind all the tracks were completely blurred and therefore very hard to follow. By the way, from the beginning, I chose to do my own navigation and it worked out pretty well as I don't seem to have made the same mistake as they did. On the rims of the dunes, the sand was very soft and I got stuck three times when coming down from the dunes, precisely where you are supposed to gather speed again. Now I still believe in my chances, because today I could catch up a little in the ranking. I stayed on until the rest day and I do not feel physically tired at all. I just need to shave because it's getting itchy under the helmet.
David Casteu (FRA -- KTM Gauloises -- 3rd)
If you had told me a few years ago that I would be at the rest day fighting for a place in the top three, I would have found it unbelievable. But this is exactly what is happening now! Not so long ago, I was just doing the Dakar as a privateer with no assistance, a couple of spare wheels and a set of underpants for a week! This morning, we had to navigate and it was quite difficult. Because of the sandstorm, there was something like a very thick fog, like the ones you can have some mornings in France. Not only do you not see a thing, but it is also very hard to trust the road book in these circumstances. For instance, if the book says there is a mountain to follow, we can't see it when visibility is nil beyond 100 m. So we have to navigate on course like seamen do.
Pal-Anders Ullevalseter (NOR -- KTM -- 2nd)
A good stage even if after 5km I made a navigation mistake. Fortunately, Despres passed me and I spent my day at his pursuit up to the finish. It is by the way not easy to follow him because he is very fast when it gets tough. Today, we had everything: camel grass, navigation, sand and sometimes extremely bad visibility. It is the fifth time I finish second of a special stage. I hope I will be finishing first very soon.
Marc Coma (ESP - KTM Repsol -- 6th)
It was a very hard stage with a lot of navigation and very harsh weather conditions with sandstorms and very low visibility. In this stage, there was absolutely everything: stones, stone tracks, sand tracks, dunes. It was really varied. What matters in such cases, it to know how to adapt to any kind of change. Our aim in the team was to reach the rest day with no harm. The withdrawal of Jordi (Viladoms) is a real pity. When it happened, we were not going too fast. The rest day will mainly allow our machines to have a break but I'd rather have gone on to keep the pace of the race.
Francisco Lopez (CHL - Honda -- 8th)
In this race, things must be done quietly with great calm. I am used to 5 to 6-day races where I give all I have each and every day. If I do the same in the Dakar, either I or my machine will break down at stage 10 or 11. Today, I did it again: around km 330, I got lost but it only cost me a few minutes. I am happy to be leader of the 450 category for my first Dakar but it is not an end in itself. I make my own race. My main aim is to get to the end, and to come back stronger and more experienced next year.
Giniel De Villiers (AFS -- Volkswagen -- Winner)
This was a very difficult stage due to the lack of visibility. I've never experienced such a special stage. We drove blind without any point of reference. I was happy to hear that the stage was being shortened. We were patient. We got a bit lost in the beginning but the rest went on ok. It is important not to get stranded in sand. As for the ranking, I am not surprised by the small time differences. Everybody is at a very high level and it is hard to steal time for your opponents. This makes the race all the more exciting. Mistakes are out of the question. The strategy is simple: keep doing what we did in the beginning and never stop.
Stephane Peterhansel (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 4th)
It was a rather good day, but we made a strategic mistake. Too bad. We chose not to deflate before attacking the sand dunes and we got stranded in the very last one. We had to unpack the plates to get out of there so we lost time while we were leading the stage. Then, we deflated for the next set of dunes that we did not see because the special stage was shortened. But we had a flat 5 km shy from the finish! We feel there is something missing because we were also counting on this stage to regain some ground. We have been 25 minutes behind since the second stage in Morocco due to a clutch problem; we will only be able to catch up during a very hard and selective stage. But we are at rest day and I don't have the impression of having done half of the Dakar already. As for the competition, obviously De Villiers and Sainz have had a great race so far, no mistakes. It's not their car that is the best, it's the drivers who have been the best so far.
Hiroshi Masuoka (JAP -- Mitsubishi -- 4th)
We drove through a major sandstorm. In some places we could not see further than 30m. It really surprised me. Around mid-stage the sand was very soft, which made driving very hard. I saw that Roma had a problem there but I could not stop to help him. I am happy about my stage and will try to attack again after the rest day.
Carlos Sainz (ESP - VW -- 3rd)
We had three problems today. We got stuck in the sand twice and had a mechanical problem the third time. This made us loose less than 15 minutes in total, which we managed to catch up on a little towards the end. All in all it was a good day. We have reached the rest day at a good position in the overall ranking. It is all the more positive that the Mitsubishi attacked today and we managed to resist pretty well.
Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT -- BMW -- 5th)
It was important to get to rest day without problems. Today was really hard. I've never seen sand so soft in all my life. I am very happy about our performance all the more so that we got stranded. Additionally, there was really no visibility at all. I am very sad for Guerlain (Chicherit) but it's the Dakar. You only learn when you have problems. I will now fight for the X-Raid team and aim at being in the top 10.
Hans Stacey (HOL - Man - Winner)
We tried to play it well because we knew since this morning that Gerard de Rooy was out. We had no reason to attack so we were careful and drove strategically. We did our own race, all the more so that it was a very difficult stage. Actually it was the day of the navigators. Everything went well, we are still in the lead and the truck was perfect.
Philippe Jacquot (FRA - Man -- 2nd)
I am thrilled. I am really experiencing a different Dakar because since 2002 I had been taking part as a privateer. But this time around I'm in a team with a truck that works really well even if I only got it two weeks before the rally began. The sad part is that we lost almost 2h30 during the stage finishing in Ouarzazate because of the front left hub problem. Today was great. We had a flat tire after taking on a curve slightly too wide. We actually ended up in a rock bed doing 100 km/h so we had to change the rear right wheel and lost almost 20'. Then we still lost a short 15' stuck in a sand dune. But apart from that we are competitive for the scratch and of course a 2nd place is always good too.