Dakar : KTM - Leg 4
This fourth stage between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate was reported have the most terrain changes of any during the 2006 Rally. The context was as expected. Due to their position of the previous day, Caldecott and Grider left first this morning, at 6:00
A.M. However, experience and navigation proved to be most important as both the Australian and the American got lost after some kilometres, and the American also had a problem of gasoline.
In fact their navigation “job” was taken by Isidre Esteve; the Spaniard virtually led the group and passing for first at CP 1 and CP 2 (km kilometres 125 and 221). The problem is that navigation requires a lot of concentration and many tough decisions in a split second. For that reason, the average speed of the “navigator” dramatically slows down and the ”followers” can easily come upon the leader. Cyril Despres accomplished this on yesterday's stage, but today has been the turn of Marc Coma, that has been perfect.
Following the traces, the rider of the Team Repsol KTM rapidly recovered his starting gap up to the finish line. Finally the stage was not as difficult as Etienne Lavigne announced at the briefing yesterday night. The director of the Dakar also warned the competitors about the first dune crossings of the stage. Also the Merzouga erg were passed by the riders without difficulties.
Fastest at the two check points this morning, Isidre Esteve won the today's special test, but Repsol KTM champion Marc Coma, that finished second just before his fellow Carlo De Gavardo, is now the new leader of the race, with an advantage of five minutes. “The tactic process of this stage was not so easy. This morning Caldecott and Grider got away very early and at a very high speed. If they did not get lost, maybe the result of the stage would be different. One of the first things that must be learned is that speed has to be secondary. The first priority is not to make mistakes and then you have to sustain a sharp rhythm. And finally you have to be supported by your complete and absolute concentration. It is difficult to handle this delicate balance between the elements.
This morning the stage was stony but relatively easy until the dune section, and I crossed the dunes more and more confident. Then there was a section where the navigation was more complicated. I calmed and I y studied the situation, then I chose the right track in a real labyrinth of tracks. The final section was more fast. Can I give you my opinion on my race? I feel good, ad I try to be always clever and calm. The goal of the leadership has today been accomplished, and the main meaning of this success is that the work of the entire Team is perfect”.
The winner of the stage was happy but a little preoccupied: “Tomorrow” said Isidre Esteve, “I will open the trace, and a lot of work is waiting for me”.
The other Gauloises KTM team member Cyril Despres preferred to trace a balance of this first part of the Dakar: “Yesterday I was happy because of the result, today because I enjoyed the passage of the first dunes. I can say that the race is only at his beginning and that I made a god job. All is working well”.
Tomorrow the stage will reach Tan Tan, It will be “simply” the first of a “over 800” trio. Exactly 819 kilometres, with the fifth special test of the Dakar 350 km long. No dunes in the profile of the special test, but two long technical sections. Further more the race will go down to the sea level. Heat can begin to affect the hard work of the competitors.
Press Release KTM