|Pharaons Rally: Tuesday Schlesser and Vigouroux fighted until the finish line.|
Tuesday´s special from El Rammah to Bir Karawein was much more technical and physically demanding, mostly because of the high temperatures. 353 kilometers in special, some fast sections, some dunes, some stony and sandy hills dominated the day. The stage passed the Baharija oasis in the east and ended in Bir Karawein, a small oasis in the middle of a great sandfiels, 50 kms east from the village Farafra.
Will there be really a big battle between the US-based French Eric Vigouroux (Chevrolet Protruck) and the French Jean-Louis Schlesser (Schlesser Chevrolet Buggy)? That was the question of the day, after Vigouroux rolled his car yesterday and could not show his performance. The answer was easy: Yes, there is!
From the start to the finish line both blue Buggies - one fitted with Toyo Tires, one fitted with BF Goodrich - demonstrated their power and knowledge of drivers and codrivers. Both crews, navigated by Alex Winocq (Protruck) and Fabian Lurquin (Schlesser) overtook themselves more then one time, were driving near-to-near.
At kilometer 178 Schlesser leads the duel with only 5 seconds - but in the end Vigouroux, who started from the 5th place, took the stage-win with only 6:56 minutes in front of Schlesser. With an overall time of 03:42:24 hours Vigouroux even was faster then the leading bike (Marc Coma, 03:45:46).
"We started today like yesterday" said Eric Vigouroux. "From the 5th place where we have started, we reached Jean Louis at 1/3 of the special. We role together and then, in the last part, faster, we let them go to assure the victory that we dedicate to our technical crew that worked until 5 am in the morning to rebuild the front suspension." With 06:49:20 hours Schlesser stays the solid leader in cars, Vigouroux climbed the 10th position overall.
The Italian driver Maurizio Traglio and Fabian Lurquin (Tecnosport Nissan Navara) had a puncture and the jack system did not work. The crew had to improvise a jack under the heat of the sun in the middle of the Egyptian desert. But they were driving fast and made the third position of today - with only 20 seconds in front of the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 of the Japanese Dakar-winner Jun Mitsuhashi and his Belgian co-driver Alain Guehennec.
"I appreciated today´s special, it wasn´t easy at all" Mitsuhashi told. "Over two or three portions there were lots of navigation. I listened to Alain because other competitors were going left while the right direction was right. He was right - and this made the day!"
The best Egyptian team of the day was El Erian/Mohamed in their Toquet 4x4 Proto. The local crew completed today´s stage in 04:50:22 hours, one hour behind Eric Vigouroux. Best Bowler was the Italian crew Tonetti/Tonetti, with 04:29:25 hours they catched the fifth position only 1:56 minutes in front of the Bowler from the French Jerome Pelichet and Eugenie Decre.
Local "hero" Adham Mostafa with his Dodge RAM was running well, but then a navigation mistake stopped the crew. "We went false and found a valley, nothing special, but it was not easy to find the right way back, so we lost more then one hour" the Egyptian told. But the crew is still happy: "This could happen, even because this is the first rally for my navigator Ismail Soweilam. The most essential is, that our car runs well, no problems until today."
In Pharaons Classic, the winners of the first stage were Christian Belotti/Marco Gaggiani and the French crew of Patrick Feret/Patrice Pigny and Stephane Callens/François Callens. They all scored the same amount of point but the Italian takes the lead as it is the oldest car in the adventure.
Tomorrow, the rally caravan will head Abu Mingar, after two special stages and 404 kilometers racing. The teams first have to pass a 70 kilometers dunefield, then some rocky regions and a long but stronger dunefield again. The last 30 kms of the stage were cancelled, so CP3 marks the finish line on Wednesday.
2010/10/05 | 20:38 CET | EDITOR: MR/HS