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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: Nissan Pathfinder cars continue to lead Production.

Between Douz and El Borma, the end point of the third leg of the Rally Optic 2000 Tunisia, the longest stage of the rally was far from easy. During the first 50 kilometres, off-track through bare dunes, the only signs of life were a few cart tracks, heading for wells: A real headache for the navigators, who had to find the right passage so as not to be caught up in the soft sand.

Having emerged from this tricky sector, the competitors faced the Bibane pass, leading to Ksar Ghilane. Out of the dunes, the next section was fast but technical, with plenty of undulations, sand banks and rocks. Keeping the right bearings was the theme of the day, in order to reach the famous pipeline track, covered in sand in places. Finally, the last 30 kilometres saw the competitors reach full speed over a wide plain.

Christian Lavieille and François Borsotto, with their Nissan Navara, had the task of opening the route this morning. Far from displeasing the driver, this exercise proved to be extremely instructive. "It was not the task of opening the route that bothered us, it was more our lack of experience with the Navara over this sort of terrain, not knowing how it would behave. We were quickly reassured about its handling, and over the first fifty kilometers, François was kept very busy.

Trying to find the waypoints, which prove we have followed the route, was far from easy. But François is extremely experienced and did a perfect job. My congratulations! At CP 2, we stopped to re-inflate the tyres. It took us two or three minutes, and Jean Louis Schlesser overtook us between CP2 and CP3. The end of the stage was faster, which was very pleasant. I am very happy that we got through the sand without any problems. Overall, the car’s suspension is a bit hard, especially at the rear. We will try to fix the problem over the coming days. We were second over the stage and second overall. I am quite satisfied, but Tuesday will be an important day with the El Borma loop. We will have to be prepared for it!"

As for the T2 category, it proved to be an action-packed day. While Laurent Rosso set off this morning as leader, he lost a lot of time while crossing an irrigation field, which immobilised his Pathfinder. Finally finishing third in the T2 category in yesterday’s stage, and lying 3rd overall, he left the category lead to Jean Pierre Strugo. But Jean Pierre Strugo, who suffered a puncture, is only 14 seconds ahead of Paul Belmondo, who definitely put in the performance of the day. Winning the stage brilliantly, he is now right behind his team-mate. Tomorrow should be a determining factor to separate the three Nissan Pathfinders, which, as predicted, are monopolising the top three places in the Production category.

Today will be the highlight of the Rally of Tunisia. The El Borma-El Borma leg will be divided into two loops: The first being 230 km long, and a second just 30 km, but 100% off-track and 100% sand. However, the dunes will be faced in the opposite direction, with a very sharp descent. Known as ‘broken’ dunes - they are notorious for being the most difficult and most dangerous!

2007/04/04 | 12:08 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Dessoude

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