Dakar: Yamaha stage 8 report

David leads class despite navigation problems After the 1055km marathon from Tan-Tan to Atar, today's jaunt to Tidjika must have looked like a sprint race to the 112 bike competitors lining up for day eight of the 2004 Dakar rally. However, the...

David leads class despite navigation problems

After the 1055km marathon from Tan-Tan to Atar, today's jaunt to Tidjika must have looked like a sprint race to the 112 bike competitors lining up for day eight of the 2004 Dakar rally. However, the stage proved to be tricky, with many of the top riders encountering difficulties navigating the 389km course.

Dakar rookie David Frétigné was one such rider, but he put in another good shift on board his Yamaha Motor France WR450F 2-Trac to record the 22nd fastest time of the day, which was enough to take him into the lead of the 450cc Super Production category. The Frenchman maintains his 15th place in the overall standings, headed only by the larger capacity machines from Austrian manufacturer KTM.

"I got well lost today," declared Frétigné, the 33-year-old French Enduro champion. "At one point we were all riding around in circles so I decided to follow the compass heading. Everybody followed me rather than Meoni, and we went through fields of stones that wouldn't have been out of place in a trials section. After that I came into some very soft sand and when I turned round there was no one behind me!

"Today we also encountered a problem we hadn't thought of before. When the front wheel spins in the sand it gives us a false tripmaster reading. By the time I had got to the refuelling checkpoint at 258km my trip was over reading by 40 kilometres. No wonder I struggled with the navigation! We didn't spot this problem on the Shamrock Rally because there was much less sand and a lot more GPS points. Despite today's navigation problems I still managed to overtake Graziani, who is my rival in the 450 class, so in the end everything turned out extremely well."

Yesterday's overall leader Cyril Despres was another rider who got lost today. His excursion cost him over an hour on the 355km special, which was won by Spaniard Nani Roma. Roma now has the overall lead ahead of Richard Sainct (at 8'16) and Jean Brucy (at 14'25).

As today's route forms the first part of a marathon stage, the riders will be unable to use the services of their support crews at the bivouac. Tonight they will be required to do their own spannering before heading off for tomorrow's 736km special stage to Nema.

-yamaha-

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Series Dakar
Drivers Jean Brucy , Cyril Despres , Nani Roma , David Fretigne