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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: Problem-free leg for the Team Dessoude Nissan.

A change of scenery at the end of this fifth leg, with the dunes giving way to the hundred-year-old eucalyptus trees of the Nékrif bivouac. Those remaining in the race were glad of the freshness as they passed the halfway point in this rally.

The first 115 kilometres were very sandy, with special care needed in terms of navigation, due to a track that was only partially visible. Once again, there were plenty of dunes to cross. The Douaniers pass concluded the first third of the route, and, once again, gave some difficulties. Progressively, the sand cleared, leading to an extremely fast track, around 40 km long. After the service area, the route became more varied, with some tricky changes of level, before arriving at Fort Jnaien.

After a superb wadi, the end of the stage was both fast and technical. The scenery during the final kilometers was truly beautiful, through the heart of som e magnificent canyons.

As for Team Dessoude, Christian Lavieille and his Navara continued to make progress, pulling away from third-placed Pascal Thomasse. However, in the lead, Jean-Louis Schlesser, with his considerable desert experience, is very much in control.

But Christian Lavieille is serene: "We made the right tyre choice today! That meant we had no worries during the first part of the stage. The redoubtable Douaniers pass, did not give us any problems, which was very satisfying. W e didn’t get any punctures, and the Navara was perfect. We have a good m argin, and stayed cool today, without taking any risks. The gap between us and Pascal Thomasse is slightly wider now. Half-way through the race, we need to think about taking care of the car in order to get to the end."

Although the classification at the front appears to have stabilised, there were plenty of changes in the T2 category. It is now Laurent Rosso who holds the category lead, ahead of his team-mates. He has a lead of 16 minutes over Jean-Pierre Strugo and 37 over Paul Belmondo. A spectacular rise in the overall classification, explained partly by the mechanical problems suffered by his two team mates.

Both Jean-Pierre Strugo and Paul Belmondo suffered from broken universal joints. At different times and different places, but both before the service area. The crews were forced to stop for mechanical repairs, each losing an hour. It was therefore Laurent Rosso who set the best time in the category, and put in the performance of the day. The order might change, but the Nissan Pathfinder trio still rules!

Half-way through the event, an update from André Dessoude: "Today, Christian did not want to push too hard, as he knew there was little to gain over Schlesser. Even if he only finished 4th in the stage, his second place overall is safe. Tomorrow, he’ll put his foot down. The aim is clearly to finish second in the rally, and more importantly for Christian to use this event to analyse and learn more about the Navara in all conditions. Jean-Louis Schlesser is a formidable opponent and his buggy has made even more progress since the Dakar. He’s not taking things easy, but pushing really hard.

As for the Pathfinders, every day is another battle. The main thing is to keep the pressure on the category with all three cars. Today we had a few problems: A broken joint for Strugo and Belmondo and a bent suspension triangle for Rosso. Nothing too serious. But the race is not over yet!"

2007/04/06 | 11:12 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Dessoude

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