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An excellent warm up
Dakar : Gauloises Racing - Leg 2
the bikes it is possible that a certain amount of tactical riding on the part of some of the front runners saw victory go to Portuguese rider Faria, with Esteve Pujol (Gauloises KTM) second (at 1'07) and David Casteu (Gauloises KTM) third
(at 1'28). Race favourite Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) finished 11th (at 3'38) just behind David Fretigne. Despres' water carrier Michel Gau (Gauloises KTM) crossed the line in 28th place (at 6'06). Overall Esteve Pujol leads 8 seconds ahead of Coma with Casteu fourth, Despres fifth and Gau 23rd.

Bikes

Isidre Esteve Pujol (Gauloises KTM)
“I am very happy with my day and delighted to be in the overall lead. They replaced the Sentinel yesterday and the new united functioned perfectly. Early this morning as we were leaving Portimao there were a lot of people still up to wave us off and then even more people along the route of the special. The start from Portugal has been a real success.”

David Casteu (Gauloises KTM)
“I really enjoyed myself today. Cyril (Despres) has been developing the new bike all year and he and KTM have done a super job. I caught Fretigne towards the end and I could see that I was more at ease on my bike than he was on his 450. I have done two Dakars without any assistance, and then last year in better conditions with the help of my main personal sponsor, but to be in a full factory team is to be in a different world. You really compete in the best possible conditions and I am looking forward to benefiting from them once we get to the desert.”

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM)
“These first two special in Portugal have been an excellent warm up and allowed us to sort out any last minute problems under the best possible conditions. The organisation has been really first class and I would happily race a third special here next year if ever they decide to start from here again. Now however we are ready for the adventure. Rallye-raid is all about navigating in the wide open space of the desert and I am looking forward to getting to Africa and testing myself against the elements and my rivals.”

Michel Gau (Gauloises KTM)
“It was nice special but very slippery and you had more to lose here by attacking than you had to gain. Two riders overtook me early on and I let them go by without a fight, only to pass them later on after both had run off the track. Sure I could have ridden faster but we have barely started the race and there is an awful long way to go.”

Cars

In the cars victory once again went to ex-WRC world champion Carlos Sainz, this time ahead of Luc Alphand and Al Attiyah. For their part, the 2-wheel drive Gauloises Schlesser buggies once again struggled to find grip and finished 15th (Thierry Magnaldi), 16th (Jean Louis Schlesser) and 20th (Jose Maria Servia) respectively. Overall Sainz now leads by 3'45 over Alphand with Roma third (at 4'14). Magnaldi slips to 15th overall (at 9'11) just ahead of Jean-Louis (16th at 10'14), with Servia in 20th place (at 14'24).

Thierry Magnaldi (Gauloises Schlesser Ford)
“Once again an excellent stage – I give the Portuguese organisation 20 out of 20 for all their hard work. The special was well signposted, and look around you, have you ever seen an interview area like this on a European leg of a rallye-raid. Good though it has been here, the going hasn't really suited our cars and the slippery conditions have made it even harder for us to stay in touch. We have given away just under 10 minutes to the leaders going into Africa and now hopefully we will move on to terrain that is less of a handicap. That of course depends on the profile of the Moroccan specials. If they are flowing we will be OK, but if there is a lot of re-acceleration it will be more difficult.”

Jean-Louis Schlesser (Gauloises Schlesser Ford)
“I am happy to be here because they was a lot of mud on the special, especially at the end, and it would have been very easy to go off the track and lose even more time. It is good for the spectators, a traditional part of the Dakar, but not good for us, and we have worked hard to stay in touch here so that we can do our job properly when we get to Africa.”

Simon Jean Joseph (Gauloises Mercedes
“We are both relived to have made it to the finishing line and frustrated not to have done so sooner. The going here today was perfect for us, with our rally background, and I am sure we could have posted a good result. Unfortunately a pick-up on the gearbox broke away, meaning that 5 or 6 times on the special we had to stop, put the ‘box into neutral and let the computer calm down a little before starting off again. Still we are very positive. In the great scheme of things it won't make much difference to the final result – and that is what we are focusing on.”
Communiqué de Presse Gauloises Racing


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