The sting is in the tail...
Initially today's stage went rather well for team VeKa MAN With a Mission, but the sting was in the tail. The final part was steeply downhill and extremely heavy on both men and machine. Franz Echter again proved himself to be the quickest MAN driver, even though he started the day on a relaxed pace to safe the gearbox. With his fifth place finish Echter again put himself up in the top five of the day. Because of his strong performances he is now closely watched by the Kamaz and Tatra teams. It could get very exciting as position 2, 3, 4 and 5 are very close together in the general standings.
Marcel van Vliet had a good start, but it was not before long his injured neck started aching again. The truck was super quick but his hurting neck kept Marcel from successfully defending his eight position. Today he finished in twelfth.
Marcel: "The first part of 395 kilometres was hell. The trail was full of bumps, rocks and holes. I was just unable to develop some pace because of the pain in my neck. When you are on the stage and every bump gives you a racking pain, throwing the towel crosses your mind hundreds of times. Of course I did not quit the race, but I am pretty fed up with the pain. With the final part over the sand dunes my day ended on a positive note, but for me personally this is the toughest Dakar yet. On day 1 I was sick, day 2 was okay, but from day 3 I have been in a constant battle with my own body. I am really looking forward to the day of rest, when hopefully I will be able to recuperate a bit."
On to Peter Versluis, Cor Euser and Pieter van Kruijsdijk. The entire day went great, at the checkpoints their intermediate times were between position 12 and 14. On some occasions they even got as high as 8th! Unfortunately on the final section to the finish the steering of the truck failed and they had to stop the vehicle. With the camp literally in sight, just eight kilometres from the finish line they had to start repairing the steering. It will be a momentous task to get the truck at the bivouac within the time limit, so fingers crossed!
Kamaz driver Kabirov was quickest on today's stage.
-source: team man