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Optic 2000 Tunisia 2007 Special-Newssection (FIM Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Optic 2000 Tunisia Rally 2007, 1st round of the FIM Worldcup for Cross Country Rallys. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Optic Tunisia: Dune surfing for Christian Lavieille and his Nissan.

Today’s leg around El Borma frequently provides many of the best stories in the Optic 2000 Tunisie Rally. The day usually includes plenty of problems, with cars getting lost or stuck in the sand. All those who have taken part in this event know well that the rally can be lost or won here. Over the last two years, the two separate loops can quickly become a nightmare in the desert. But this year, a small change meant that the legendary chain of dunes was faced in the opposite direction.

This forced the competitors to be extremely vigilant throughout the stage, especially when crossing the dunes, more broken than ever. Navigation was also vitally important, due to the WPM (hidden way points), which appear on the GPS when the vehicle comes within three
kilometers of their location. It was therefore necessary to keep the ideal route, without going round the dunes, in order not to stray from the virtual track and possibly miss the vital WPM. As always over this sort of terrain, the tyre pressure choice could be extremely tricky.

Despite all these potential problems, the four Team Dessoude musketeers got through the leg without too many problems. Christian Lavieille, with the Navara Proto, strengthened his second position in the overall classification, while the battle continues in the T2 category. Paul Belmondo took the lead of the category ahead of Jean-Pierre Strugo, who is approximately three minutes behind. After a storming start to the special stage, Laurent Rosso was caught out in the last sector and lost some time. Despite everything, he set the best time of the day. The Pathfinder trio has a firm grip on the Production category. However, nothing is over yet, and the extremely experienced driver Jean-Pierre Strugo has not yet said his final word.

Christian Lavieille put in a good performance today, allowing him to remain within contact of the leader, but more importantly pulling out a gap from his nearest rivals. "Our tyre pressures were slightly too high when we set off this morning. The sand was softer than yesterday, and it was not really much fun. We were on the limit crossing the big dunes, with no real margin for manoeuvre. On the second loop, we caught up with the backmarkers from the first loop, and it was really busy in the dunes! The navigation was not easy at the end of the second part, and it would have been easy to get lost if you strayed from the right direction. But François, as usual, made sure we avoided the traps in the road book. Overall, we set a good pace and the car was perfect."

The three T2 cars all had their fair share of problems. All three got beached at some point or other, which meant that by the end of the day, there was not much between them. Starting off like a rocket, Laurent Rosso set the best time of the day, despite a difficult end to his stage. As for Jean-Pierre Strugo, he is well aware that the race is far from over, and that the relatively small gap between him and his team-mate Paul Belmondo could turn to his advantage at any moment.

The new Production race leader, Paul Belmondo, spent quite a while with a spade today: "We lost around twenty minutes, stuck in the bottom of a hole right in the middle of the dunes. A real bathtub, from which we had to extract ourselves. Jean-Pierre also got stuck, and there are only a few minutes between us in the overall classification. Nothing’s over yet, especially as there will be lots of sand
tomorrow morning. But our morale is good, there are no problems with the car and my co-driver is working hard. At the moment, all is going well!"

As Paul Belmondo mentioned, tomorrow’s leg between El Borma and Nekrif is definitely not a drive in the country. The 312 km special stage will start off with 115 km of sand, with a number of dunes to cross.

2007/04/04 | 19:08 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Dessoude

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