Dakar : Team Nissan Dessoude
The Lisboa-Dakar competitors got down to the serious business this morning, arriving at the Moroccan coast after a night onboard the ship that took them to Nador. They were faced with a relatively serious starting day, as after 237km of liaison,
they had to attack a 314 km timed stage. The first traps and the first navigational headaches were lying in wait… However, the track was totally dry, contrary to forecasts, which avoided the difficult task of crossing wadis. A colourful first day in Africa for the Nissan teams.
The first hours in Africa for the Nismo Challenge. Not really a discovery for most of the competitors, but a real first for the Swedish duo of Johansson-Holmstrand, who set a magnificent 25th fastest time. But the two rookies still have a lot to learn, especially in terms of taking care of their vehicle, if they want to reach Dakar. A fine result, certainly, but it is to be hoped that they will not pay a heavy price for it in the days to come…
Tobias Johansson : « A long and good day. It was my first stage in Africa, and I was slightly in awe. At the end of the special stage, we broke the neck off one of the rims. We were not losing the air too quickly, and we managed to reach the end without stopping to change the wheel. Unfortunately, the brake caliper was rubbing on the ground, and was damaged. We dismantled it for the final liaison, by short-circuiting the rear brakes. »
An experienced driver, Christian Lavieille adopted the Dakar pace perfectly. Careful and measured, he kept up while taking good care of his Nissan Patrol. Christian Lavieille : « We did not keep up with certain drivers' rapid pace, and we quickly let Simon Jean-Joseph and the Dakar Challenge team pass us. After that, we were in a convoy, with a big pack of cars in the dust. Having seen quite a number of cars with broken suspensions or wheels torn off, we preferred to opt for safety. »
As for Pep Busquets, after a fine recovery, the Catalan set the 93rd time. Something to make up for his misadventures on the first day. Albert Bosch maintained his pace, as did Tony Manresa and Josep Roca, whose objective remains unalterably Dakar. A wise strategy which could well pay off.
A day of mixed fortunes for the Dessoude clan. Both Holowczyc and Mitsuhashi, in the two Pickups, had problems, for totally different reasons.
André Dessoude explained the reason behind these problems : « Holowczyc's vehicle had a problem on the liaison section. We found sand in all the fuel filters, even though the reservoir was new. The car stopped on the liaison, and stayed there for a long time, until the T4 truck solved the problem. Holowczyc finally took the start, but over an hour late… As for Mitsuhashi, after 4 km of the special stage, lifted up an enormous rock in a wadi, which tore out the transmission. The T4 truck was able to repair it, but although he rejoined, he had lost a lot of time.»
Miguel Barbosa had an oil leak around 80 km from the finish. The Portuguese driver mended the problem himself, shunting a tube. He lost around 30 minutes in the operation.
As far as the T2 cars are concerned, our three teams are doing well. Benoît Rousselot set the second-fastest time in the category today, while Paul Belmondo ate a lot of dust…
Paul Belmondo : « Getting off the boat, we found a nail in one of our tyres. We removed it, and the tyre did not appear to be punctured. Unfortunately, it went flat during the special stage, and we had to change it. Then I drove for 140 km in the dust of another competitor. But I did not lose my temper, as there is still a long way to Dakar . »
A black day for the Mitsuhashi-Dubois team, which lost a lot of time after breaking the transmission. Just 4 km from the start, the Japanese driver hit a rock while crossing a wadi. The penalty was immediate : a broken transmission. They had to wait for the T4 truck before getting going. The result could be painful this evening.
Nissan Team Zhengzhou
To give an update on the two Chinese Paladin vehicles, nothing to note for Xu Lang, who set an excellent 45th time, while Zhou Yong's vehicle suffered a front transmission failure. This did not bother him too much, as there was no sand, and on rocky roads like those crossed today, it is quite possible to get through with rear-wheel-drive only.
Today was a good warm-up for the still-serene Marc Blazquez : « A very good day, and I am very pleased with my position. This 24th place on the special stage is the normal position for me at the moment. As the special stage was very rough, we were very careful, in order to keep the vehicle in good condition. »
The Italian team had a few minor worries today. Kenjiro Shinozuka, in the new generation Nissan Pathfinder, was keeping something in reserve : « It was very difficult today, both the navigation and the tracks. I drove very slowly, as I am still not totally confident with this car, that I am still discovering. We had a few small problems, as first the front drive was slightly open, which made me be careful. And then we had a puncture, and we had some problems opening the boot. We lost around fifteen minutes. But the main thing is to be here this evening. "Russian driver Andrej Ivanov appeared content to have finished today's stage : « Not a very good day overall. The navigation was very difficult, and we made a few mistakes. We missed a crossroads, and came back on our tracks quite quickly, but then we had to put up with the dust from those competitors who had taken advantage of our mistake to overtake us. We also had to block the brakes once, to avoid a car, and afterwards they made a strange noise"
Press Release Team Nissan Dessoude