REPSOL RIDERS AND DRIVERS TAKE ROAD SECTION TO AYOUN-EL-ATROUS BEFORE FINAL STAGES TO DAKAR Mitsubishi drivers enjoy low pressure day before final four Dakar special stages. Marc Coma faces the final of an intense Dakar in solitary Team Repsol...
REPSOL RIDERS AND DRIVERS TAKE ROAD SECTION TO AYOUN-EL-ATROUS BEFORE FINAL STAGES TO DAKAR
Mitsubishi drivers enjoy low pressure day before final four Dakar special stages. Marc Coma faces the final of an intense Dakar in solitary Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart enjoyed a welcome break from competition on Wednesday, after the day's special stage had been cancelled in late December and turned into a non-competitive liaison.
Instead of returning from the legendary Mali town of Timbuktu on Wednesday morning, the entire Dakar caravan embarked upon a 280km liaison section from Néma to Ayoûn-el-Atroûs and the event will continue as normal towards Kayes on Thursday.
Assistance crews were requested to leave the windswept and dusty bivouac in Néma between 07.00hrs and 09.00hrs and then the surviving 142 motorcycles left at 11.00hrs. The 112 cars and 60 trucks departed from 13.00hrs on the three-hour journey to the next bivouac, set adjacent to a remote, sandy and blustery airstrip between desert bushes and clumps of parched grass, located on the southern tip of the vast Mauritanian Sahel.
There were rigid speed restrictions in place on the liaison section this morning, for both the assistance and competition cars. There are now just three longer timed special stages and the short sprint around Lac Rose standing between Mitsubishi and a potential seventh successive and 12th overall Dakar victory. Over the course of the next four days, Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart drivers Stéphane Peterhansel, Luc Alphand, Hiroshi Masuoka and Joan 'Nani' Roma will drive 1,601km, of which 758km will take place on timed special stages. The team's four Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions currently hold first, second, fifth and 13th places in the overall classification.
In the motorbike class, Marc Coma keeps his advantage of 54 minutes in the overall standings. However, the Repsol rider who will be facing the rest of the race alone after the withdrawal of Viladoms and Sala, but as concentrated and prudent as he has been since the very first day of the race.
Tomorrow (Thursday) the schedule returns to its near-original format with a 257km competitive section between Ayoûn-el-Atroûs in Mauritania and Kayes in the Republic of Mali. A 110km liaison heads in a southerly direction to the start of the timed section near Kobenni. Teams then head across the border to a finish near Tambakafa and a 117km liaison takes cars through several populated areas into Kayes.