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Dakar 2007: Team Tecnosport Italia gathers its strength.

Two Nissan Pathfinders and a Patrol are still in the race, defending the colours of Team Tecnosport. After a difficult start to the race, the team is now recuperating before starting the second half of this 29th edition of the Dakar. Both men and mechanics have suffered, but their spirits are high.

On leaving Lisbon, Tecnosport had five Nissan cars in its team : two of the latest model of Pathfinder in the hands of former Dakar winner Kenjiro Shinozuka and Chinese driver Lu Ninjung, a T2 Patrol driven by the extremely experienced Maurizio Traglio, one Pathfinder for the Russian driver Andrej Ivanov and a T1 Patrol for his young compatriot Pavel Loginov, who was starting his first Dakar. After seven legs, three of these cars are still in the race; their main objective is to reach the Rose Lake.

The first retirement was that of Andrej Ivanov, who made a storming start to the event, setting some excellent times. The first incident took place during the second leg, with a broken gear-box. Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate turned out to be his last special stage, further to overheating and a broken engine. The Russian was forced to throw in the sponge.

There was a big disappointment in the T2 category. Maurizio Traglio, at the wheel of his Patrol, had a perfect race until then, setting the fastest time in the 4th leg. The Nissan Patrol was working perfectly. But on the liaison section, and without any particular impact, the rear axle gave way suddenly. The problem appeared to be linked to the density of the metal. A simple manufacturing default which ended the team’s hopes, forcing them to retire.
In Atar today, three cars are still in the race.

Kenjiro Shinozuka, former Dakar winner, accumulated problems in the start of the race, and lost a lot of time in the first leg. With a broken rear drive, the Japanese champion had to continue in twowheel drive until the front half-shaft gave way. Forced to wait for the T4 truck, the Pathfinder driver saw his hopes of a good result evaporate. Currently 71st with 5 hours 30 of penalties, he is improving his pace on each lap and has had no further problems with his car.

The second Team Tecnosport Nissan Pathfinder, driven by Lu Ninjung and Alessandro Pio, came close to retiring after a big accident in the special stage between Nador and Er Rachidia. Having badly negotiated a bridge, the Chinese driver hit both the bridge and an enormous rock which was close by. All the front right-hand side was destroyed, and they were unable to continue in these conditions. The T4 race track had to undertake the first repairs in order to allow the crew to reach the bivouac, which they did at 2 :30 in the morning. Totally rebuilt after intense work from the mechanics, the Pathfinder was ready to take the start in the early morning. Just like Kenjiro Shinozuka, Lu Ninjung had over five hours in penalty time, but over the last few days, has got back into the rhythm.

Finally, the third car still in the race is the Nissan Patrol of Russian driver Pavel Loginov, a newcomer to this sport (although he has already competed in off-road competition in Russia). For his first Dakar, his aim is just to get to the Rose Lake. For the moment, he is doing all he can each day in order to reach his aim.

Daniele Canonico, the Team Manager, drew up a report of this first week: "Globally, I am not very satisfied. In T2, we were aiming for the podium with Maurizio Traglio and we had hoped that Kenjiro Shinozuka would be better placed at this stage of the race. For the moment, I do not consider that this Dakar is that difficult. There are still lots of vehicles in the race after the rest day, which is quite unusual.

From now on, the running plan for our team is very clear : the three cars have to reach Dakar. The two new models of the Nissan Pathfinder and the Patrol driven by our rookie : that would be very positive. I must congratulate our assistance team who have done a remarkable job this week, and who have not had the opportunity to sleep much. The mechanics and the teams in the T4 trucks have been much in demand every day. The race could now get more difficult with the next two legs, most particularly tomorrow’s Marathon stage to Tichit, where no assistance will be allowed. We’ll see!"

2007/01/14 | 13:18 CET | Editor: MR/Tecnosport

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