|SA-Dakar: Lavieille und Dessoude best Nissan despite some damages.|
Christian Lavieille and Jean-Michel Polato gave themselves a big scare in this latest stage of the 2011 Dakar, going off the track on a surface which had become suddenly slippery further to a violent storm. But despite some bodywork damage, the Dessoude Prototype is currently lying in a brilliant 9th place in the overall classification.
As the kilometres pile up, Teamchef André Dessoude is finding it hard to remember that the event is still only on its second day: "The rally has set off at a crazy pace, and I am trying to keep things reasonable for the men, so they will be able to reach the end. The service crew does a very important job. The mechanics work all night to give the drivers competitive and reliable cars" he said.
"On the track, the crews are all doing well and making progress in the classification, but it is clear that their efforts must be adapted to the length of the event. Once again, it is important to keep calm when faced with the difficulties of this rally, which are likely to be hellish in the second part of the event.
Before we get there, it is important to acknowledge the quality of the crews who have all reached the finish this evening. Christian is in the top ten. Honghzi and Isabelle gained a place in the overall classification, with the Buggy currently lying 3rd in its category. Frédéric is following his game plan, gaining two places overall and currently second in T2. Finally, the best improvements came from David, who jumped up 17 places, and Carlos, who gained 8 positions."
As for Christian Lavieille, he is getting over his earlier scare: "I hate going off, and especially damaging the car. You don’t win the rally by days like this. But we could so easily have lost everything. Argentina is really a country of contrasts, as we were on very fast, dusty tracks, perfect for driving, when the storm suddenly hit.
Heavy rain fell on us, and despite all our efforts and care, the car slid off the track. We ended up against a tree. Thanks to help from some spectators, we quickly got out of this bad situation - which proved to be lucky, as another competitor went off in the same place just a few minutes later. We were able to minimise the lost time.
I am bringing a slightly damaged car back to the mechanics, but I think that they should be able to repair it. Apart from this off, we were setting a consistent pace compared to our nearest rivals. We finished 12th in the stage, and are currently lying 9th in the overall classification, which helped to get over our scare. For Tuesday, more than ever, we will take great care."
Isabelle Patissier and Thierry Delli Zotti are now well in control of their Buggy. That does not stop them from being wary of the storms and the river crossings, as the buggy is totally open, meaning they get unpleasantly wet: "I underestimated the depth of a ford - a wave came into the car, and there was muddy water everywhere - on our overalls, on the road book, which doubled in volume, on the controls. Not having any doors is not always a good thing, but at least you get plenty of air coming through."
David Deslandes and Alain Brousse are progressively confirming their expected potential. The Norman driver, Rallycross Champion of France, is still extremely enthusiastic about the Argentine scenery. While continuing to adhere to their instructions to take things easy, the Pathfinder in the colours of Georgia is making progress in the overall classification.
Frédéric Chavigny and his co-driver Willy Alcaraz are now on the T2 category podium: "We have progressively increased the pace in a fine special stage. But once again, a storm made the racing conditions extremely difficult. Considering the conditions, we preferred to take care of the vehicle in order not to make any mistakes. This evening, we can see that there has been a lot of damage among the competitors. We have gained a few places overall, and are still in contact with the category leader. We need to have patience."
Carlos Machado de Oliveira has got to grips with the pick-up in the colours of Angola, and has made good progress, gaining a remarkable eight places overall. Chinese driver Hongzhi Guo continues his apprenticeship and maintains his position in the top 100.
Pierrick Bonnet had a more difficult day, and is now 106th in the overall classification. The next stage : Heading north for 731 km, from Saint Miguel de Tucuman (the cradle of Argentine independence) towards San Salvador de Jujuy, on the Silver road at the foot of the Andes.
2011/01/04 | 17:42 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/DESSOUDE