Dakar : Team Dessoude - Leg 7
The transitory leg, straddling two countries, between Mendoza in Argentina and Chile's Valparaiso, saw some more major names fall, with the retirement of Stéphane Peterhansel. As far as Team Dessoude is concerned, Jean-Pierre Strugo maintains
position while Frédéric Chavigny is holding on tenaciously. Driving through the magnificent scenery of the Andes, at the foot of the highest mountain of South America, the Aconcagua(6952m), the competitors enjoyed a real feast for the eyes. Arriving in Valparaiso, the first stopping point in Chile, the spectators proved to be as eager as those in Argentina, welcoming the rally with great enthusiasm.
This leg took the 2009 Dakar caravan from Argentina to Chile. A border crossing which was made much easier by the authorities in both countries. The weather, extremely mild over the Andes today, allowed all involved to thoroughly enjoy the landscapes. A clear blue sky and snowy peaks, a real picture postcard. As far as the route was concerned, due to recent heavy rain, the day's special stage was shortened, reduced from 317 to 244 km. With parts of the original route having been transformed into veritable quagmires, the organisers preferred not to send the competitors into more difficulties. Moreover, as yesterday's stage had proved ruthless for the trucks (around thirty of which were still trapped in the dunes last night) today's stage was cancelled for the trucks, giving them time to reassemble for the rest day…
For Jean-Pierre Strugo and Yves Ferri, another long day behind the wheel : « The special stage was nice, with a first part of small dunes which was really good to drive.
We let our tyres well down so we didn't get grounded. The next 20 kilometres in the fesh-fesh were a nightmare… we got someone out, and then we got stuck ourselves for about 15 minutes. Luckily a good Samaritan gave us a tow to get the Pathfinder out. After that, the track became faster, and as we had let the air out … we had a puncture, twice ! To top it off, we had a little ‘gardening session', not really too serious, losing around ten minutes. The scenery was really magnificent today, both on the special stage and on the liaison. Surrounded by the Andes, you feel really small.»
Frédéric Chavigny and Stéphane Singery had some problems today, but once again they managed to get themselves out of trouble. They suffered a sensor problem, but were able to solve their problems by their own means out on the track. It takes more than that to stop this duo ! The rest day in Valparaiso tomorrow will be a welcome change, allowing them to recover and build up their strength before facing the second part of the race. Buenos Aires is still a long way off …
Tomorrow sees a long-awaited rest day for all involved. A timely opportunity to put the cars back in top condition and to allow weary bodies to rest after a full and tiring week.