The first day of competition on Moroccan soil – and an opportunity to get used to the trails and its potential traps. Carlos Sousa used the day to adapt to the ‘African' pace again, after a year away. A 14th fastest time on the special stage, and 13th place overall. The Portuguese
driver prefers to aim for the distance, and remarks that the leaders had started off at a very fast pace...
Having spent the night on the ship between Malaga and Nador, the competitors set off for a 237 km liaison stage, using the new navigation system with hidden GPS points.
Carlos Sousa, with his Nissan Navara, had chosen moderation for today's stage. Preferring to gamble on the length of the event rather than on the individual time, the Portuguese driver gave himself the time to get used to the trails again at a more cautious pace :
«The rally leaders started off very quickly, a bit too quickly in my opinion. The Dakar is long, and I did not choose to attack full out from the start. We took advantage of the day to get used to things, the vehicle, Jean Marie and myself. I must admit that did not really enjoy myself, because it was not the kind of stage I prefer. The dust was quite a problem, and overtaking the bikes was risky. We have to adjust the suspensions that did not correspond to my driving style, but nothing too fundamental. The race is only just starting…»
As far as the navigation is concerned, Jean Marie Lurquin admitted that it will take some time to get used to the new GPS system : « The special stage was not that clear in terms of navigation, especially at the start. There were a number of changes of direction, and you had to be really concentrated. The track was totally dry, which we had not hoped for. But today it was the dust that really gave us problems. We lost a lot of time behind the bikes. The pace was high, a bit too high. »
Tomorrow's special stage is the most varied of the rally, with the first dunes and the first saline lakes. A 386 km timed stage after a short 56 km liaison. Tomorrow evening, the bivouac will be in Ouarzazate.
Press Release Team Galp Energia