|SA-Dakar Rally: SS 2 not best day for Team Dessoude - Lavieille problems.|
The second stage of the Dakar, which took place in extreme heat, was both difficult - Christian Lavieille and Jean-Michel Polato are still out on the road - and promising for the Buggys and the two prototypes.
They are proving to be competitive, and the crews have overcome many of the potential traps. This evening, it was the Chinese driver Jihong Zhou who flew the team’s colours, gaining 24 places in the overall classification.
"That’s the Dakar" said Teamchef André Dessoude with a shrug. "It is an extreme race. We have to face up to conditions which are very difficult for both men and machine. I said it yesterday, the race started off very quickly, very strongly, in extreme heat, and with very long stages. With temperatures over 40° , the machinery begins to suffer, and that is the most probable cause for the problems with Christian’s car."
"The problem looks like being a sensor which is overheating, and which is preventing the engine from working properly. It is, of course, disappointing, as it is a secondary failure. But I still remain positive. We are doing all we can to help Christian and to allow him to get going again. The mechanics know that they will not get any sleep tonight, because we will are all keen to get the prototype back on the track.
On the other hand, the rest of the team put in some fine performances; the two buggies got through some major obstacles and despite some punctures which complicated matters, they caught up their delay and kept their positions among the top group. Frédéric Chavigny continues his apprenticeship, while Jihong Zhou had an excellent stage today. He is definitely showing progress on his first Dakar".
Christian and Jean Michel have met up with the Team Dessoude race truck. Their aim is to reach the finish line of special stage within the time limits in order to allow the mechanics to repair the car.
Isabelle Patissier and Thierry Delli Zotti continued their strategy, which consists of taking care of the car, holding some performance in reserve, but without slipping out of the top group of competitors in the overall classification.
"A good day despite the tyre inflating system, which was torn off. We lost some time to repair and re-inflate the tyres. We were not looking forward to the black dune section. But it remains a true feat of courage, as the trees and large bushes do not grow where you would necessarily expect them. To find yourself driving straight towards a tree is quite a surprise. As far as the postcards go, the scenery was superb today, with eagles flying overhead. Magnificent!"
A more difficult special stage for Frédéric Chavigny and Jean Brucy, after yesterday, which was more of a warm-up. Today’s stage included more, and more significant, difficulties. The crew will need some more time to find their rhythm, and to close up the gap to the leaders. Frédéric is used to focussing on clear-thinking and endurance, and this will definitely be the right policy for the 2012 edition.
Thierry Magnaldi and Francois Borsotto had an incident-filled day, and even if they have lost some time on the overall classification, they are still among the favourites in the two-wheel drive category: "We started off by hitting a rock in the very thick dust, around 15 km from the start. We had to change the wheel, but this was the first time we had faced this situation. Lacking experience, we lost rather too much time."
"Then, 10 kilometers from the finish line, while we were climbing back up the classification, we unfortunately tore off one of the re-inflating pipes at the rear in some very tricky high grass. We tried to repair it, and finally finished the special stage with only around 300 grams of pressure in the tyre. This is rather frustrating as we were going well, but the race is long and far from over yet."
The Chinese drivers Jihong Zhou and Liao Min are still learning - and learning rather quickly. The Prototype N05 appears to suit the Chinese crew: "We discovered the dunes today - it was quite literally a first for us. We came out of them quite well, and overtook quite a few competitors. We are delighted this evening, but we have to remain humble in this fantastic event. We still have 8000 kilometres to cross, we are only just starting out. "
2012/01/03 | 14:25 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/DESSOUDE