Dakar: Starts in Marseille, finishes in Sharm El Sheikh

STAGE 1: MARSEILLE - NARBONNE Wednesday 1st January 2003 Prologue: 1 km - Liaison: 290 km - Total: 291 km Route within Parc Chanot on 2 parallel tracks. The night prologue is an event in itself, where people and machines give of their best on a...

Wednesday 1st January 2003
Prologue: 1 km - Liaison: 290 km - Total: 291 km

Route within Parc Chanot on 2 parallel tracks. The night prologue is an event in itself, where people and machines give of their best on a track created specially for the occasion. An unmissable, fun evening. Free access for all. At the end, competitors go on a link towards Narbonne. Two check-points are organised: at Salon de Provence and Nimes where a hot meal is served for competitors in the arenas. The Rally first came through Narbonne in 1998.

Thursday 2nd January 2003
Liaison: 21 km - Special: 43 km - Liaison: 510 km - Total : 574 km

After a repair night, competitors go on a link towards Castellón (Comunitat Valenciana), located 60 km North of Valencia, on the East coast of Spain. A funny party will be organised. The Rally first came through Castellón in 2001. The rally first went to Château Lastours in 1994.

Friday 3d January 2003
Liaison: 5 km - Special: 8 km - Liaison: 82 km - Total: 95 km

The special stage is around Castellón. The finish is laid out on the beach. At the end of the special stage, competitors go to the port of Valencia for boarding. The ship sets sail at night, but before leaving for Africa, a giant paella is organised for everyone by the Comunitat Valenciana.

Saturday 4th January 2003
Competitors are on board ship for one day and two nights.

Sunday 5th January 2003
Liaison: 89 km - Special stage: 25 km - Liaison: 349 km - Total: 463 km

After the crossing, competitors disembark at the port of Tunis. The first part of the special stage is marked out on steep, twisting tracks, among hills and pine forests. The track has very irregular curves. Gradually, it becomes less twis-ty, wider and dusty, amidst valleys with a succession of fields. It allows plenty of scope for driving and is the shortest of the special stages in this 25th edition. A special stage for getting into shape, very good, finishing with a link up to the gateway to the desert.

Monday 6th January 2003
Liaison: 133 km - Special stage: 285 km - Liaison: 76 km - Total: 494 km

Competitors get down to the real meat: the terrain becomes sandy and the first crossings appear, as well as many changes in direction. At the start of the special stage, the track is fast with alternating stretches of stones and sand. Then, as the kilometres pass, bit by bit it reaches low dunes and tongues of sand, with alternating fast and twisting sec-tions. First off-road and first crossings! In the middle of the special stage, tracks are rolling, stony, fast, with undulations and "jumps". The way snakes between the hills and navigation is more difficult: numerous parallel tracks with not many landmarks! Fast end special stage.

Tuesday 7th January 2003
Liaison: 13 km - Special stage: 228 km - Liaison: 37 km - Total: 278 km

First real big stage for competitors and in particular for new entrants in the Telefónica - Dakar 2003, who have the opportunity to demonstrate the full extent of their prowess through this special stage, laid out totally off road. In the programme: numerous crossings of Ergs and successive belts of dunes. Keep an eye on the clock! There's all it needs to lose a lot of time and placings can be completely rever-sed. A stage that should benefit the toughest, most skilled drivers, whether beginners or professionals!

Wednesday 8th January 2003
Liaison: 5 km - Special stage: 584 km - Liaison: 102 km - Total: 691 km

First marathon stage. The assistance vehicles, (except those in race) are not at the Ghat camp. They go directly to Sabha. One of the best stages of this Telefónica - Dakar 2003 that marks the entry into Libya! Tip-top physical condition and faultlessly prepa-red vehicles are essential. The track, fast yet varied over the first 300 kilometres, takes competitors to the entrance of the Awbari erg, already crossed during the 1989 edition: 50 kilometres of giant dunes with magnificent shapes. It's a question of finding the right way between the massive ergs - every time. The track then continues through superb landscapes: canyons and other great expanses of sand, with alternately every type of difficulties that can be met with on a rally like the Dakar. This is the longest special stage in the rally.

Thursday 9th January 2003
Liaison: 49 km - Special stage: 497 km - Liaison: 181 km - Total: 727 km

The best of the special stages in this Telefónica - Dakar 2003 and probably one of the most difficult in the history of the event: 500 km of fabulous country, endless crossings and extremely varied terrain. On lea-ving Ghat, the track goes down due south towards Algeria before coming back up through the Akakus massif, consisting of giant dunes and chiselled rocks. Once this 100 km is over, competitors drive off road to the famous Murzuk Erg, known for its great waves of uncrossable sand, last difficulty on the special stage.

Friday 10th January 2003
Liaison: 6 km - Special stage: 567 km - Liaison: 12 km - Total: 585 km

Every day spent in Libya brings strong feelings and unique landscapes. This stage is part of the pattern. After the sand crests of the Murzuk, a place of rolling plateaus that span the first 300 kilometres of the special stage, next come mountains with the volcanic Al Haruj Massif. A mass of little tracks with changes in direction every 300 metres, where competitors just must not lose north. Navigation here is tough because there are few reliable landmarks. In this region, volcano buffs find more than enough to satisfy their curiosity, and although accessing the rims of craters makes vehicles' tyres and shock absorbers suffer, the effort is rewarded. Imagine an environment of black rocks, sometimes, a few kilometres from one another, revealing volcanic cones with the bottoms of their craters holding light-coloured sand.

Saturday 11th January 2003
Liaison: 31 km - Special stage: 521 km - Liaison: 2 km - Total: 554 km

The 10th stage is a transition stage that allows the rally caravan to get its breath back! Competitors drive over 130 km of sandy tracks, then come to an off-road area until they reach Sarir. They pass through the middle of a "heap of sand" over a distance of 30 km. To spice up the day, this stage is the first to take place "without GPS", and co-drivers are the stars of the day.

Sunday 12th January 2003
Liaison: 1 km - Special stage: 438 km - Liaison: 147 km - Total: 586 km

Great viewing guaranteed with this special stage marked out exclusively off-road! And what country: ergs ad infinitum; dunes that can tower up to 100 metres high. The difficulty is that you absolutely must keep the right course, when going over dunes. But the sand overall is good and a few descents turn out to be difficult. A tip: the shortest route is not always the quickest! At the end of the 438 kilometre special stage, competitors leave Libya. Arrival in Egypt and first camp at Siwa, a magnificent oasis, cradle of the Berber civilisation.

Monday 13th January 2003

Tuesday 14th January 2003
Liaison: 57 km - Special stage: 341 km - Liaison: 47 km - Total: 445 km

Start-up stage, in a loop, marked out to the south of the oasis, off-road, through the highest dunes in Egypt. You can count on excitement going down them. Posts mark the route. Support vehicles can enjoy the spectacle because they do not have to stay in camp: a support crew point is accessible half way round, right in the middle of the dunes. The finish for the special stage is judged near to this point, so much so that all fans who have come especially to Siwa because of the rest day can experience the 12th stage in full.

Wednesday 15th January 2003
Liaison: 47 km - Special stage: 569 km - Liaison: 41 km - Total: 657 km

One of the high spots of this Telefónica -Dakar: the complete crossing of the "Great Sand Sea" for the first time. An ocean of dunes where nobody dares go: the "cathedral" dunes. Some of them are over 100 m. The organisation has decided to mark some of the summits in order to indicate the places to cross them. The second part of the stage crosses the "White Desert". The winding track snakes between giant limestone mushrooms, typical of the region. The special stage ends by crossing a magnificent pass between the canyons. The descent of the cliff takes competitors to Dakhla oasis.

Thursday 16th January 2003
Liaison: 53 km - Special stage: 274 km - Liaison: 375 km - Total: 702 km

The day's special stage is laid out on a network of forgotten tracks, used in the times of the Pharaohs by camel caravans to link with Sudan. The start of the special stage is marked by uphill bends, of hill-climb type, over 5 kilo-metres, taking competitors to a camel track. The track then disappears to give way to a very winding "trail", in rocky mountains. The only landmarks are hundred year-old cairns. Navigating, way off-road, you have to find the right valley to get to the pass in order to go down the cliff. A kilometre long, the descent down a tongue of sand is the high point of the day. Take the time to admire what is around you such as the Temple of Karnack.

Friday 17th January 2003
Liaison: 75 km - Special stage: 477 km - Liaison: 24 km - Total: 576 km

Stage without GPS! It is laid out on a well marked track, fairly rolling with alternating sections of sand and gravel. Numerous changes in direction are on the programme and care is vital so as not to take the wrong track. The special stage is especially testing for drivers with a definite advantage for drivers from the world of traditional and endurance rallying.

Saturday 18th January 2003
Liaison: 413 km - Special stage: 365 km - Liaison: 50 km - Total: 828 km

The last stage before breathing the sweet scent of victory! The longest in this 25th edition. Set out at dawn, from the camp, to get to the start of the special stage. The last long special stage of this 25th edition marked out in the Sinai massif. It alternates driving in magnificent green valleys and stretches of difficult, rocky, narrow cols. A special stage at the end of which overall positions can still change.

Sunday 19th January 2003
Liaison: 13 km - Special stage: 34 km - Liaison: 9 km - Total : 56 km

The last special of this 25th edition will take place near to the Sharm El Sheikh hotel facilities. A "show" special accessible to all spectators. The other novelty of this final festive day : prize-giving will take place on the podium, following the finish of the special.


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Series Dakar