|Dakar 2010: Disappointment for Dessoude and Christian Lavieille.|
This evening at Copiapo, a feeling of great disappointment reigns in the Dessoude clan. The rally-raid is ruthless with men and machines alike. For a number of days, the crews had been fighting successfully to improve their positions. But one thing is clear: On Sunday, the desert had the final word: Christian Lavieille, Jean-Paul Forthomme and the Dessoude Proto will not see the finish line of the 2010 Dakar.
"Until now, we have been able to solve all the problems we have faced. The Great Wall hit a rock; it was repaired and managed to get back to the bivouac after spending 24 hours on the trail. Fred Chavigny and Jean Brucy managed to get themselves out of a funnel of sand, a terrible trap which keeps closing in on the car. Jean-Pierre Strugo and Yves Ferry got going again after they fell off a rocky ledge. But unfortunately this time we have to give up, further to a technical problem which is outside our control. It is a moment of intense disappointment but we now have to regain our motivation as soon as possible, based around the three remaining crews."
Towards the end of the checks, when the fuel tank was being refilled, a leak was noticed. It is a significant technical problem on a homologated tank. Even if this leak was limited and surprising, André Dessoude did not hesitate an instant: "After the fire which destroyed the previous Proto, during the 2009 Dakar, there was no question of starting the race without analysing the problem. This was a heavy decision to take which has hit me hard, but there is no question of playing with the lives of the crews."
Although there is a second Team Dessoude car missing this evening, it is not the end of the rally. Three vehicles are still in the competition, crews and backup alike are fully prepared to get through all the potential traps and reach the finish line in seven days time in Buenos Aires.
Another special stage for Frédéric Chavigny and Jean Brucy who had a good day today: "Once again the stage was very rough and finished in the sand dunes, all the ingredients for a good day. The codriver didn’t make any navigational mistakes, nor did the driver make any while driving. We are now fighting for the podium in the T2 classification. Tomorrow we will leave the Atacama desert; the stage will be difficult with a lot of sand, and the gaps will probably be significant."
Sylvain Doucet, Yong Zhou’s co-driver on the Great Wall, looked back over the previous stage, which only finished yesterday for him: "Over two kilometres, the problems just kept on coming. Going through some ditches, we first of all broke the windscreen, then a joint, and finally tore off a wheel on a rock - we were forced to wait for the T4 truck. The darkness was a nightmare because driving in fesh fesh without a windscreen is quite crazy! We got lost and I would not like to go through days like that too often."
The overall classification is still improving for Team Dessoude, with Fredéric Chavigny and Yong Zhou gaining four places while Jean-Pierre Strugo and Yves Ferry improved by three positions. The latter are continuing their adventures for the pure pleasure: "There was no pressure on today’s stage, either literally or figuratively, as we finished in the dunes with only 600 grammes in the tyres. Stuck in a crater, we tried to get out again and again, before noticing that the scenery was magnificent."
2010/01/11 | 13:46 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Dessoude