FIAMBALA 1 -- DESSOUDE 3 !!
In the match between the white dunes of Fiambala and Team Dessoude, this year Dessoude emerged as the winner. Christian Lavieille and Isabelle Patissier shone again today. But as for Frederic Chavigny, he surpassed himself, leading the T2 category and claiming the 11th fastest time on the special stage. Unfortunately, Pierrick had to retire, further to a clutch problem on his KTM.
Team Dessoude was dreading this special stage, which took them from Copiapo to Chilecito, and according to team manager Andre Dessoude, their fears were well-founded : " Last year, this special stage took place at the start of the rally. It had ruined all Isabelle's hopes, and seriously handicapped both Christian and Frederic. To face this same special stage, but this time at the end of the rally, with worn cars and crews down to their last reserves of energy, it was a real challenge!
Christian finished 7th, gaining time over his nearest rivals and firmly placing himself as the leading independent driver behind the factory teams. Isabelle continued a long series of fine performances since the start of the rally, while Frederic set his best ever Dakar time !
The crew really had a difficult day, with a very long liaison section to cross the Andes, at altitudes over 4500 metres and outside temperatures of 0o.before heading down to the dunes at 45o. !
It is really extremely pleasing, even if we would all have preferred that Pierrick could celebrate with us; he is a man of great courage ! "
Once again, Christian had an excellent day, setting the 7th fastest time of the special stage. Fast, consistent and respectful of his car, he has overcome until now all his direct rivals. To be in the top ten of a Dakar classification, you not only have to be fast, but -- and some forget this -- get to the end... For a change, we first spoke to his navigator, Jean Michel Polato , who drew up a first report today : " We could not have hoped for better, despite a few minor issues which are nothing when you consider the length of the event. Now I am touching wood because we have to get to the finish line ! "
As for Christian, he explained : "It was horribly long ! Last year we had overheating problems, so this time I drove with one eye on the track and the other on the temperature gauge... and it went up and up. It was 45o.outside and 60o.in the cockpit... a real sauna, especially in our racing overalls ! We checked that the fan was working normally and drove at a suitable pace for these extreme conditions.
" Quite a few competitors got beached in the soft dunes. We chose the right tyre pressure, and opted with Jean Michel to go round some dunes instead of trying the awe-inspiring slopes. It was the right choice ! "
Isabelle Patissier and Thierry Delli Zotti finished once again in the Top 20. The buggy is still as competitive as ever, and has had no serious problems for its first Dakar.
This evening, Isabelle has conquered Fiambala and is closing on the podium in the two-wheel-drive category..
Despite having rolled their car yesterday, Frederic Chavigny and Willy Alcaraz had managed a good performance. But today was even better, as Fred set his best-ever Dakar performance with the eleventh-fastest time of the special stage, well ahead of all his competitors in the T2 category : " We led the class from one end to the other, with no problems, with no navigational mistakes, we didn't even get beached !
We are now back up in 4th position in the T2 category classification. Our rivals are only 15 and 25 minutes ahead of us ... it's not over yet. We will work hard on the race notes with Willy to fight for the podium. There are still two days of what has been a very long race. "
The team has mixed feelings this evening, celebrating Frederic's superb performance bur regretting the retirement of Pierrick Bonnet, an essential member of Team Dessoude...
Tomorrow : Chilechito/San Juan -- Liaison 164 km / Special Stage 622 km
Another never-ending special stage, the longest of the rally, with many potential traps and plenty of risks, just two days before the end. ...
-source: team dessoude