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Optic Tunisa: Summary of Leg 1 of the Optic Tunisia Rally.

Jean-Pierre Strugo in his Mercedes ML

A UK-built Bowler on the way

Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser
Stéphane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi Pajero) won the tuesday´s first stage of this 25th Optic 2000 rally in front of his team mate Hiroshi Masuoka, and the VW racing Touaregs’ of Giniel de Villiers and Carlos Sainz. On the bikes it was Isidre Esteve (KTM Gauloises) who came in first, seconds ahead of his team mate David Casteu, all this in not too fun conditions.

What with the wind sweeping across the desert, sometimes at 90 km/h, the start of this Optic 2000 Tunisia was not made easy. Racing from Ras El Oued and Nekrif over nearly 300 km. Technical and navigational skills being the keys for this days racing. Starting in fifth place tuesday morning Stéphane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi Pajero) had taken this chance to lay down the gauntlet to the other Factory Drivers in this first stage of the FIA Marathonrally Worldcup, and this after three months of inactivity.

Peterhansel followed closely behind by his team mate Masuoka, profited from the unfortunate blow outs of both VW racing Touareg 2 of Giniel De Villiers (2 times) and Carlos Sainz (only once but hampered by a jack problem aswell), to leap into the leading place. Victim of a blow out as well ,Luc Alphand leading by the first check point conceeded in the end 5’30".

Sadly for Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser and his Ford Buggy, grip was the problem of the day, even so he still managed the sixth fastest time of the day ,in front of the Polish European rally champion Holowzcyc in his Nissan Pickup. The T2 category was led by Jean-Pierre Strugo (Mercedes ML) followed by the Nissan Pathfinder of the world endurance bike champion Christian Lavieille, another duel being fought by these two.

On the bikes everybody was waiting for something a bit special from the Spanish Isidre Esteve. Having negotiated a seventh place, after strategicly holding off in the super special at Levens, he was comfortably where he wanted for the start. But even though he won this stage, the leader of the Gauloises KTM team only managed to gain 16 seconds (on the new KTM 660) over the time of his team mate David Casteu.

Who left first tuesday morning in those more than tricky visibility conditions , only to be first across the finish line aswell, having hit an impressive 178km/h. The two "Blues" finished 4 minutes in front of the Norwegian Ullevalseter and 6 minutes in front of Messin Olmi, whereas Cyril Portal on the semi-Factory ride KTM( back after his accident 2years ago) conceeded more than twenty minutes due to lack of practise and neck pains. Even though the Italien KTM Oscar Polli had to do a u-turn to drop off a GPS kit at a CP due to a broken mounting, he still managed to arrive in first place in front of the Polish Czachor (KTM) and the Franco-Uraguayan Laurent Lazard (KTM).Another tight pack were the quads, 13th Christophe Declerk came in front of Berard Barra’s Yamaha and Angelo Montico’s Honda.

Standings after Leg 1 Ras El Oued-Nekrif (325km/ES1 288km)

Cars Standings Leg: [ CLICK HERE ]

Cars Standings overall: [ CLICK HERE ]

Motos Standings Leg: [ CLICK HERE ]

Motos Standings overall: [ CLICK HERE ]

2006/04/12 I 13:15 CET I Editor:

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