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Dakar 2007: Problems for Nissan´s Lavieille and Muller on Leg 5.

After his misadventure, Christian Lavieille, who arrived at the Ouarzazate bivouac very late, put in a cautious drive today and set the 21st fastest time. It was definitely a learning day for Yvan Muller who, after three punctures, is beginning to understand the particular nature of the Dakar. After a storming start, Miguel Barbosa had to lift off, driving with a broken front right transmission.

In the Production category, Jean-Pierre Strugo maintained his second position, with the top three being extremely close together. Today, despite the dust and plenty of overtaking, Paul Belmondo kept up a good pace. Carole Montillet and Mélanie Suchet, rather tired, put in a good performance, placing their Nissan Pathfinder in 89th position. This evening, lying 72nd overall, the ‘skiers’ are on the right path. Finally, Madalena Antas can breathe again. Setting a very nice time today, the young Portuguese driver is gaining confidence.

Christian Lavieille: "Yesterday was the day of all the problems. We were driving well, clean and neat. But after CP1, a sand bank must have stopped us, and the result was broken rear drive crossbars. And without rear drive, it was impossible to drive the front. Between 11:30 and 17:00 we waited for our T4 assistance truck. In the meantime, we used the time to help Paul Belmondo, who landed a few metres from us, with a broken joint. Also, while waiting for the assistance, François and I dismantled the broken parts so that it could be fixed as soon as possible. And actually the repair only took 15 minutes. We got going again, and after just two kilometres in the camel grass, a joint gave way. Changing a universal joint in the camel grass is no picnic. We lost a lot of time, and had to face the dunes after dark. There, everything went well, and I had a really good feeling with the car. Crossing the finish line, we noticed that we had only just escaped the fixed penalty for the maximum time over the stage. The maximum time allowed was 12 hours, and we took 11 hours and 57 minutes!"

Yvan Muller: "Today was very enriching and full of problems. I learned a lot of things in just a few hours. The Dakar is a real school of patience. You have to be extremely humble, or even more, all the time. I’m beginning to understand ! I keep on telling myself that the good days are on their way. We had three punctures today. The first, just five kilometers into the stage, happened in the dust, which meant I didn’t see the trap. We got going again, without pushing too hard. Then at the 100 km point, we had another puncture, this time the front left, from going over the rocks which marked the edge of the track. At that point, with 200 km to go, we knew we wouldn’t get to the end at this puncture rate. So we calmed down, and at the end of the special stage, we noticed we had a slow puncture at the right rear. It was awful to drive at such a slow pace, but at least we’re here!"

2007/01/09 | 21:18 CET | Editor: MR/Dessoude

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