By Nani Roma and Marc Coma
The Repsol riders comment stage by stage the entire rally route. PORTUGAL – SPAIN
31 December. Stage 1: Lisbon – Portimao
Liaison: 186 kms - Special: 83 kms - Liaison: 101 kms
Unlike previous years, where prologue stages were
just tours in front of fans, this year the prologue stage includes already a large number of kilometres and navigation challenges to be faced by the participants. The 2006 Dakar starts heavily and leaves riders, drivers and machines with hardly any time to adapt.
Nani Roma: "Not bad for the start. It is an 83-kms special you cannot consider as a prologue. We'll be driving on very good and very well prepared roads. Wide and fast roads that will be in very good condition, similar to the WRC."
1 January. Stage 2: Portimao-Malaga
Liaison: 65 kms - Special: 115 kms - Liaison: 387 kms
The second special of the rally will give participants no respite either. They will have to set a good pace to cover the more than 100 kms special that will take them, after the liaison to Malaga, to embark once again on their way to Africa. Just like in the previous day, there will be fast and mountainous tracks. This will be one of the last chances for riders and drivers to enjoy the landscape before facing the dryness of the desert.
Nani Roma: "The stage will be similar to the previous day. A complicated stage where you have a lot to loose and little to win. Therefore we have to be very careful and avoid any mistake."
Marc Coma: "The first two stages will be somehow the novelty. We had never started from Portugal and the European stages had been short. However, this year we will start with two quite long specials. This rally won't give us any break and we'll have to be very careful from the beginning. As regards the terrain, we more or less know what we're going to find: sandy tracks that will take us through eucalyptus areas."
2 January. Stage 3: Nador-Er Rachidia
Liaison: 237 kms - Special: 314 kms - Liaison: 121 kms
This time, the organisation recovers a stage that has only been covered in three of the twenty-eight rallies. But the course of the special is totally new and it will take participants through tricky oueds that may lead them to make the first navigation mistakes.
Nani Roma: "This is the start of the real race. It's a long stage on furrowed roads, with a lot of wholes and stones, like all Moroccan stages. You have to get a good pace in this stage, but without trying to win the race from the beginning. The aim is to avoid loosing time and to be where you have to be."
Marc Coma: "It's a new stage for me; it hadn't been included in the route for a long time. It will be the entrance to Morocco and it will be good to check that everything is working well on African grounds. It will be the first contact with the navigation devices on a stony terrain."
3 January. Stage 4: Er Rachidia - Ouarzazate
Liaison: 56 kms - Special: 386 kms - Liaison: 197 kms
We will be back on the classical route, but here again there will be some novelties that will turn the special into he most varied and complete of the rally. Participants will find the first dunes, before facing chotts and oueds on their way to Ouarzazate.
Nani Roma: "This year's special will be quite similar to that of last year, but they have told us that there are going to be some new things. We all know where we have to go and as regards the terrain, I don't think that it's going to be much different. Morocco means wide tracks, usually stony and with holes. Let's see where the novelties are."
Marc Coma: "In theory, it's a stage that has been covered on several occasions, but as far as we know, we're going to find several new things. It will be a varied and complete stage, where we'll find the first dunes. We'll also find a lot of stones, sand, chotts, oueds, and it will be complicated as regards navigation."
4 January. Stage 5: Ouarzazate - Tan Tan
Liaison: 187 kms - Special: 350 kms - Liaison: 282 kms
Leaving furrowed and stony roads behind, we'll enter the open desert, were the pace is going to rise but danger is still going to be around. Before leaving Morocco, competitors will have almost tripled their mileage compared to the 2005 edition. The 1,250 kms already covered will surely start to reveal the favourites.
Nani Roma: "It's the most southern part of Morocco. We'll be leaving the mountains behind to enter the open desert, and that will increase the pace a lot. Towards the end, we'll be facing again stony tracks with hidden dangers."
Marc Coma: "We continue in Morocco, although we'll be entering the open desert area where the tracks are faster. There are still going to be a lot of stones, something that will harm the mechanical parts and a crash may have fatal consequences. It's a long special, similar to last year, but identical to the stage two years ago."
Communiqué de Presse Repsol Media