Dakar: Yamaha stage 7 report

Frétigné retains placing in Dakar's longest day The 148 remaining motorcycle competitors set off shortly after midnight for the longest stage they will face in this year's Dakar rally. As expected, the 1055km journey from Tan-Tan to Atar ...

Frétigné retains placing in Dakar's longest day

The 148 remaining motorcycle competitors set off shortly after midnight for the longest stage they will face in this year's Dakar rally. As expected, the 1055km journey from Tan-Tan to Atar provided plenty of heartache, not least for yesterday's rally leader Isidre Esteve Pujol (KTM) who crashed heavily around 220km into the 701km special. The gritty Spaniard remounted after losing around 15 minutes, but it was all in vain when he went out with mechanical problems at the 650km mark.

Thankfully there were no such dramas for Yamaha Motor France's David Frétigné and his two-wheel-drive Yamaha WR450F 2-Trac, who stayed out of serious trouble to finish the stage in 16th place, 51 minutes behind stage winner Richard Sainct (KTM). It took the Dakar rookie just over seven-and-a-half hours to complete the special and he remains in 15th place overall, the second 450cc machine, after seven stages.

Speaking of his toughest challenge yet, Frétigné said: "Finally I've arrived! Today's special was really hard work. I 'managed' the kilometres and my motorcycle with great care - without worrying about my results - and never went above 120 kph on the straights. I did however try a little short cut. On arriving at the Erg at the end of the special I could see tracks going off to the left, while ahead of me was a chott (dried lake) in the direction of the GPS arrow. I decided to follow the GPS point and as I rode along I imagined myself overtaking everybody and winning the special. At the end of the chott however I caught up with the two riders I'd been with just before taking my 'shortcut'. It was so ridiculous that I burst out laughing under my helmet.

"The soft dunes were pretty easy with the two-wheel drive system but I nevertheless managed to get stuck once. When I did I simply got off the bike, leant it over slightly, accelerated a little and out she came, with absolutely no effort made on my part. It is clear that on this type of special the 2-trac is a real bonus!"

Today's results mean that the overnight leaderboard has taken on a new look. With Esteve Pujol out, Cyril Despres (KTM) moves into the lead, just over three minutes ahead of Spain's Nani Roma (KTM). Fabrizio Meoni (KTM) was another who fell foul of the nightmare stage. The Italian suffered tyre problems and fell all the way back from fourth to 18th in the overnight standings. Sainct moves into third after winning today's special. Tomorrow the remaining competitors have 355 km of special to get to Tidjika. Once there however their problems are far from over as there will be no assistance or spares to greet them -- just a sleeping bag transported to the bivouac by the organisers.

-yamaha-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Richard Sainct , Nani Roma , Isidre Esteve