Nador to Er Rachidia Connection: 205 km - Special: 252 km - Connection: 191 km Total: 648 km Bike: Cyril Despres (FRA - KTM Gauloises -- 21st in the special stage) I am really not lucky. Nothing but bad luck. I broke the gear-box and I had to...
Nador to Er Rachidia
Connection: 205 km - Special: 252 km - Connection: 191 km
Total: 648 km
Cyril Despres (FRA - KTM Gauloises -- 21st in the special stage)
I am really not lucky. Nothing but bad luck. I broke the gear-box and I had to ride the final part of the stage in first gear. I was first until CP1 but above all I truly enjoyed the ride! Now I am still happy that I reached the finish line. Anyway, the race is not lost yet. I know I had a problem today but tomorrow is another day. The other riders can also have problems. My problem right now is that I have to ride for 200 km in first gear for the connection section. After that, there's still a race to be won.
Chris Blais (USA - KTM -- 2nd)
This morning I was eleven minutes behind at the beginning, so I started out with a lot of time to make up. I had to get past a lot of riders, it was really good fun, I must have overtaken around forty. I really like the profile of this special stage, especially the second part, where you could really turn up the throttle.
Marc Coma (SPA - KTM Repsol -- Winner)
It was a typically Moroccan stage: very stony, especially at the beginning. I started the stage in a good position thanks to my ranking. I knew that the two Portuguese wouldn't stay ahead for long. I overtook them, then Casteu before catching up with Isidre (Esteve). We rode together from there on in. For the moment, everything is going as planned, but it's an open race. Now the aim is to get through the two coming Moroccan stages without problems. That means more than 700 kilometres of special stages without assistance. I've got some mechanical skills thanks to my endurance racing background. I hope that will be enough.
Isidre Esteve (SPA - KTM Gauloises -- 3rd)
The first 80 kilometres were difficult. There were lots of stones and rocks. You really had to follow the road book, page by page. After that, the track was very good. I didn't go flat out, even if the stage was very quick. There was plenty of pace and I enjoyed myself. Being leader is not the prime objective. What I really want is to get to the rest day with a serious option for overall victory. Now it's important to take things step by step, day after day. There are two complicated Moroccan stages to handle. The next two days are going to be very hard.
David Casteu (FRA - KTM Gauloises -- 4th)
I did what was necessary. I stayed in the race without taking risks. Everything went well. There were parts that were very technical with lots of ups and downs where you had to be very careful. The race started very quickly and the experienced riders are all in contention. I'm very happy with my day, especially since the new bike is working really well. It's a lot more stable.
Carlos Sainz (SPA - VW -- 2nd)
Your experience tells you that it's best to remain calm. Nothing has changed since yesterday. Dakar is a bit nearer, that's all. There's one stage less. I'm satisfied. I remember what happened last year. I'd like to give credit to my co-pilot Michel (Perrin) because starting a stage without the tracks of the other competitors is never easy. One of the difficulties today was the number of bikes I had to overtake.
Giniel de Villiers (AFS -- Volkswagen -- Winner of the special stage)
I wanted to set a good pace and especially avoid any punctures. That was very important for me, so we maintained a good speed to avoid this sort of problem. The biggest difficulty was overtaking the bikers in the dust. Today was a difficult day to open proceedings for the special stage, so it was ideal for us to start in sixth place. However, tomorrow it will be more complicated, but that's what the rally is like.
Stephane Peterhansel (FRA - Mitsubishi -- 3rd)
The car is driving well. But this was quite a high up stage, at more than 1,000 metres altitude in some places and I could feel that I wasn't getting everything out of it. Otherwise, it was a dangerous special stage, very stony. Also, I had to overtake a lot of bikes. It's the sort of stage where you go from one dust cloud to another. We never seemed to be able to drive dust-free for more than 5 km at a time. It's the type of stage which can really mess things up for later. Here, if you aren't lucky, you can forget it.
Luc Alphand (FRA -- Mitsubishi -- 4th)
First of all, it's great to arrive in Morocco and kick off the African stages. This one was really hard, due to the dust and navigational difficulties, because when you drive so fast it's always hard to keep on track. What's more, we made two tiny mistakes, which didn't cost us much, but they were still mistakes. In any case, it really feels like Africa, and for the team as a whole, today wasn't a bad day, all in all. We've climbed back up the rankings and that's what mattered. I'm not interested in going looking for a stage victory for the moment. I've got the feeling that the Volkswagens decided to strike out right from the word go. If their cars prove to be very reliable, then we're going to be in trouble. That said, they are taking much more risks than us, in both mechanical as well as driving terms.
Vladimir Chagin (RUS -- Kamaz -- Special stage winner)
It was typically Moroccan with lots of stones. The major problem was all the overtaking we had to do. It's difficult and dangerous, especially when the track gets narrow. It's likely to be the same tomorrow. This is a problem for our race, because we can't express ourselves fully. Apart from that, I'm really satisfied with the result, because the truck was great to drive today.
Gerard De Rooy (HOL -- GINAF -- 2nd)
Five minutes after the start I had to overtake a car and it was very dangerous. All the stage was like that. I felt I drove a very good stage without taking too many risks. The stones made it very hard. I'm also happy with how all our trucks handled because until this Dakar, we always had problems with the suspension on hard surfaces and we've managed to adjust it. I'm really enjoying this Dakar because there is strong competition between the trucks. It's good for the race. It's similar to what is happening in the car race between Volkswagen and Mitsubishi and it's exciting.
Hans Stacey (HOL - Man -- 3rd)
Caution was the watchword today, because there were a lot of competitors held up and the tracks were very stony. We had a slight problem with the rear suspension, but managed to solve it quickly. It was a good day, since we have two trucks in the top 4, with a fine performance from Philippe Jacquot. Personally, I've not yet given 100% but I know that I'm going to carry on getting better. I'm not overawed by Chagin's victory. I think it was important for them to win, but I didn't lose much time and the rally isn't won yet.