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Pharaons Rally 2007 Special-Newssection (FIM Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Pharaons Rally 2007, 5th 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.

Pharaons Rally: Full house for Christian Lavieille and his Nissan.

Between Siwa and Sitra, the crew of the nr 201 Nissan Navara calmly took care of its lead in the event, while continuing the tests on the vehicle’s suspension. Christian Lavieille set the best time in the special stage, while his main rival, Polish driver Krysztof Holowczyc, hurt his back after a bad landing on a broken dune. Congratulations to the girls today ! Carole Montillet and Mélanie Suchet set the fifth-fastest time in their Nissan Pathfinder, and gained a place in the overall classification. They are now in eighth position.

Thursday’s special stage started off going around the lush gardens of Siwa, in a dune field dotted with camel grass. Having changed direction, yesterday’s docile dunes turned into surprisingly broken dunes, the kind you only find in Egypt. The track became rocky, then faster, undulating and finally winding through dry wadi beds. This meant plenty of changes of pace, in order to keep the car on all four wheels. Next, the competitors headed south, back among the dunes, off-road until they reached a plateau of black rock.

Coming down off the plateau, which proved to be quite tricky, they went into a fast canyon, over a well-marked winding route back to the - dunes. Heading east, in the dunes, they were back among the rocky ground after 260 km, with some fesh-fesh, before crossing more dunes, and valleys, both white and black, over terrain covered with shells. Finally, they crossed some soft dunes, before finding themselves back in the fast Sitra valley, with its treacherous rises and dips.

Always careful, Christian Lavieille was not caught out: "We started behind Holowczyc this morning, and caught up with him before CP1. We had made different tyre choices. We’d opted for low pressures, in order to be more at ease in the sand, while Krysztof, with more air in his tyres, had gone for a set-up favouring the rocky sections. We stopped at the CP1 service park to make some modifications to the suspensions, in order to continue testing the various set-ups.

Krysztof passed us again, and we were in his dust for about 14 km. I preferred to lift off, because visibility was poor. We went better over the sand, while he was better over the rocks. Then after a while, we lost sight of him. We stayed on the ideal path, and managed to help a few lost bikers get back on the roads. To our surprise, arriving at the bivouac, we found out we were the first. That’s when we learned what had happened. The broken dunes are always potential traps, and unfortunately Krysztof found that out today.

Tomorrow, we will try to go through with higher tyre pressures. All this work is extremely positive, and we have really made an improvement to the handling of the Nissan Navara 05 over sand. We have found a good compromise. On the roughest sections, we could still improve."

François Borsotto really enjoyed his day: "The special stage was good fun today, and I enjoyed the navigation. We went over part of this route two days ago, and saw tracks everywhere. A few bikers, lost in this labyrinth, followed us in order to find the right path."

Carole Montillet and Mélanie Suchet really enjoyed the 314 km of this timed stage. Mélanie was driving, with Carole as navigator, and no incidents whatsoever delayed their progress. They finished fifth fastest in the special stage, and have gained a place overall. They were delighted.

André Dessoude is rightly proud of his team, and did not hide his satisfaction: "Christian’s car is improving day by day. We have made real progress on the suspensions since the start of the event. We are also working on other details, such as improving the suppleness of the accelerator for example. This body of information will allow us to gain valuable time before the Dakar. I hope that Krysztof Holowczyc will be able to rejoin tomorrow, and that it is not too serious. It is interesting for us to be able to gauge ourselves compared to our rivals. We plan to ask Christian to stop at each service area tomorrow. We still have two days of racing, and plenty more things to test.

I am also very happy with the work accomplished by Carole and Mélanie. For example, this afternoon, they decided not to hang around the bivouac, but to undertake a full mechanical session on their Pathfinder. They are learning to dismantle the brake callipers themselves, and the joints. On the Dakar, if you have to wait for assistance on the trail, it can really gain time if everything has already been dismantled before the mechanics arrive. Since the start of the rally, they have learnt a lot. I really like their attitude, which is great for the whole team."

2007/10/05 | 12:38 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Dessoude

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