|SA-Dakar: Nissan-Dessoude´s Christian Lavieille had to fight from behind.|
The French team Dessoude had a difficult start this morning. After the previous day’s delight, the retirement of David Deslandes and problems for both Christian Lavieille and Isabelle Patissier came as a cold shower. The atmosphere was heavy, and things looked serious. But that was before the drivers decided to stage a rebellion. Christian, Isabelle and Fred proceeded to complete a memorable day for the team.
It was already difficult for André Dessoude to accept that David Deslandes, the team’s rookie driver from Normandy, had been forced to retire, shipwrecked in the dunes. But that was not all, and, like a nightmare, the bad news kept on coming. Christian was suffering from an overheating transfer box during the liaison, and he took the start of the special stage in 32nd position, down among the trucks. Isabelle Patissier took a serious dive in the classification at the first waypoint, which was too much after yesterday. Only Frederic Chavigny was doing well.
But the drivers decided to fight until the end! As the team leader, Christian Lavieille was also the first to rebel: "It was just not possible, we couldn’t stop there - not today, not like that. We set off, the knife between our teeth, right in all the dust from the trucks, and quite honestly it was very difficult" told the French Nissan Proto driver.
"We had to wait between five and 15 minutes to overtake them. They are racing between themselves, and do not look at what is coming up behind them. We overtook on the left, on the right, brushing right past them. Despite using our horn all the time, and the Sentinel system, it was really horrible, but we managed to get through" Lavieille reported.
"Then we took some different options than most of the competitors where the navigation was concerned, and found some easier crossings. We were still very worried, as the high temperature meant we had to slow down. The last part of the dunes was a real delight. This evening we are still in the top 10. This was a fine performance, that I would like to dedicate to my partner Christelle for her birthday!"
Another crew which broke free today was Isabelle Patissier and Thierry Delli Zotti. The Buggy is still in the race, and Isabelle finished this evening in an excellent 14th position.
However, it is difficult to establish a reliable overall classification, as so many drivers are still out on the track: "After just 30 kilometres we had a puncture, and we dropped way down the classification, over 50 at the first waypoint. We had to react so we began to attack, with the aim of going as far as possible at a high pace. The aim was clear: there was no way we wanted to be out in the dark to cross the big dunes that were at the end of the stage. Our only problem was the range, as you use a lot of fuel in the dunes. Things were rather tense during the final stages, as the gauge was on empty on the slopes. We were very relieved to cross the finish line - it was definitely time."
Frédéric Chavigny and Willy Alcaraz are still out in the dunes, but Fred, after a quiet start to the special stage, also went on the offensive. Rivalling the category leaders, he is between the 28th and 35th places with his T2. Once again, Frédéric has proved all his potential. The verdict on his final position will come overnight.
Pierrick Bonnet is still going. Day after day, kilometre after kilometre, the Norman KTM rider continues his adventure. Although extremely tired, he has been able to overcome all the difficulties he faces: "I am pushing back my limits day after day. It is rather a case of the head ruling the body, but that is the Dakar."
2011/01/11 | 10:30 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/DESSOUDE