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Dakar 2007: Last big Dakar-Stage completed without trouble

The Tambacounda - Dakar stage had to be completed without trouble to thing about the final victory with a bit more certainly. Mission accomplished for Cyril Despres, who only timed 5th of the day, but will start at Lac Rose with a 36-minute lead over teammate David Casteu. The day’s special has been won by Brazilian Jean De Azevedo, who compensates for a rally made difficult from the start by a long list of break-downs. In the cars category, the fifth stage victory this year for Carlos Sainz does not change the overall rankings still lead by Peterhansel. Hans Stacey is also safely in the lead in the trucks category. Winner of the day’s stage is Philippe Jacquot.

Well aware that incidents may happen anytime on the Dakar, as demonstrated by the withdrawal of Marc Coma yesterday, Cyril Despres did not take any chances en route to Dakar. Having started first of this one-before-last stage, the Frenchman rode in the lead accompanied by Chris Blais but did not push his KTM too much. On arrival, the leader in the overall rankings had achieved 5th fastest time, 7’03 behind winner of the day Jean De Azevedo. The Brazilian wins the second special stage of his career after winning in Tambacounda in 2005. He is ahead of Poland’s Jacek Czachor at 2’ and Latvian Janis Vinters who is more than 5’behind.

The scare of the day was for David Casteu. Victim of a fuel injection problem in the long stretch leading to the start of the special stage, the Frenchman thought he might actually loose his second place in the overall rankings threatened by US biker Chris Blais. Chance and dense traffic on the road led to the fact that the special stage was postponed by half-an-hour. It was just the time the inhabitant of Nice needed to repair his KTM and leave on time. He finishes 5th loosing only 5’ on Blais, arriving 3rd. In the overall rankings, Despres is now 36’09 ahead of Casteu and 53’01 in front of Blais. There are now 16 km left to be driven without trouble before the Frenchman can win his second Dakar after a first victory in 2005.

Once in Dakar, the bikers found out about the sad news concerning the death of Eric Aubijoux. The French biker was taking part in his sixth Dakar and was the victim of a cardiac arrest on the course of the liaison, just 15 kilometres away from the finish (see special press release).

In the cars category, days all look the same for Volkswagen. Carlos Sainz, winner of the last two special stages, finishes the hat-trick in Dakar and brings his total number of victories this year to 5. The Spaniard has now won nine stages in two Dakar participations. On the special stage, Sainz finishes in the lead of a VW trio followed by De Villiers at 7’’ and Sousa at 45’’.

En route to his 3rd victory in the cars category to be added to six victories in the bikes category, Stéphane Peterhansel did what Cyril Despres also did: he handled the situation. The leader in the overall rankings finishes 8’21 behind the day’s winner only leaving 4’ to his challenger Luc Alphand. Unless there is an incident in tomorrow’s short special stage, Jean-Louis Schlesser will most certainly be getting 3rd place on the podium. The Frenchman only lost 4’ to Al Attiyah and still has a 27’ lead.

For the fourth time in this year’s Dakar, a trucker wins his first special in the Dakar. It’s a Frenchman – a rarity in the Dakar in the trucks category – who wins at the end of the 225km special stage. Philippe Jacquot arrived before yesterday’s winner Ales Loprais who is at 4’33. Brazilian André De Azevedo finishes a nice day for the family by winning third place at more than 9’ of the winner. In the overall rankings, the impressive lead of Hans Stacey over Ilgizar Mardeev is now 3h08.

2007/01/19 | 16:45 CET | Editor: MR/EP/ASO

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