|Dakar 2010: Team Dessoude still in the Fight after SS7.|
The longest stage of the 2010 Dakar on Friday kept all its promises: Difficult, selective and creating significant gaps between competitors. At the head of the race, there is now a ruthless race between some big players to get into the top ten. Christian Lavieille and Jean-Paul Forthomme are currently fighting with four other crews, including Giniel de Villiers, winner of the 2009 Dakar, and Robby Gordon - all separated by just a few seconds.
Team Manager André Dessoude looks back over the day’s events: "We knew that this stage would inevitably give some problems, but this evening we are both elated and worried. Elated because Christian gave us a fine performance which has seen him climb another place in the overall classification. But we are also worried because at half-past midnight 32 cars had still not reached the finish line. They are out in the desert and the night - and unfortunately these include our Great Wall.."
Among the good news, Christian and Jean-Paul put in a perfect performance today, finishing 11th on the special stage and they are also now 11th in the overall classification. They were the only ones able to follow the frantic pace set by the leaders, dominating their nearest rivals before slowing towards the end of the special stage due to a slow puncture.
Christian Lavieille enjoyed his day: "The first 50 kilometres was made up of the sort of dunes you could cross easily and with great pleasure. It was more difficult afterwards, with terrible fesh-fesh then some fords, some trial-like sections and finally fast terrain where just driving counted. The only problem we had today was a puncture in the last part of the race."
A problem which cost them around three minutes - which was the time it took Jean-Paul and Christian to change the wheel. "I’ve heard that temperatures are very low in France at the moment so I’m not going to complain about the 50°in our cockpit."
Frédéric Chavigny and Jean Brucy finished the stage in 41st position after spending twelve hours out on the route ! Frédéric had a busy day: "This morning we started off at an excellent pace and with good navigation, and then without really understanding why we ended up in a crater. This trap cost us ninety minutes of digging. This special stage, with the digging, the heat, the fields of rocks, the off-track, the wind and the dust, was really, really difficult. We overtook a lot of cars which had broken down, and I fear that many of them will not get to the finish line. Luckily our car is going perfectly."
Yong Zhou and Sylvain Poncet are among those. After jumping a bump, the Chinese driver could not avoid a rock and planted the Hover. The damage was significant, with the front axle torn away. There was no question of continuing, and only the service truck could attempt a repair. At midnight the two vehicles were still stationary.
Jean-Pierre Strugo and Yves Ferry also had more than their fair share of problems. Crossing the finish line at 23 :30, they explained what had happened: "After the dunes, we went into a maze of fesh fesh. It was incredible, and we spent nearly an hour trying to find the way out. Then it was a labyrinth of rocks, we lost the track and once again it took us nearly an hour to find it. Finally, night fell, and then it is really hellish. You can’t see anything, and you’re scared of missing some obstacle and destroying the car. Luckily tomorrow is the rest day."
2010/01/09 | 16:01 CET | Editor: MR/HS/L.Arpizou