Dakar : Team Nissan Dessoude - Leg 4
Today, the competitors headed for Ouarzazate, after a 386km special stage, mainly over rough ground that caused a number of punctures. But today also saw the first sand-dunes – and the first cars got stuck in the sand in the Merzouga
dunes. There were also some difficulties in finding the right path. A few hesitations and some mistakes, which can be costly in terms of lost time. The co-drivers are going to be busy during this edition of the Dakar..
After their good result yesterday, but which caused some damage to their Patrol, the team of Johansson and Holmstrand lifted off slightly today. Brice Fabry, the Challenge « boss » explained today's ‘exploits'… « As for our Swedish Dakar Challenge team, they put a bit of effort into driving less quickly. Tobias sacrificed some of his driving, but through a lack of experience, he jumped over a dune too quickly, and landed very heavily. The chassis is slightly bent, and this car's reserves have been almost used up. However, there were no problems for the other Patrol cars. »
Pep Busquets , very much on form since the start of the race, and despite his problems in the first stage in Portugal, was full of smiles: « When we wanted to let down our tyres to go over the dunes, we noticed that one of the valves was broken. So we had to change a wheel, and we lost around fifteen minutes. We set the third-fastest time in the Challenge, and the thing that pleases me most is that we haven't broken anything since the start, unlike some other teams…»
Christian Lavieille, still leading the Nismo Challenge, is managing his race perfectly « Shortly before arriving at the first checkpoint, we let the tyres down, as we were churning up the sand.. We inflated them again, but further on, we found a zone of fech-fech and ruts, where a number of people had got stuck. We got stuck too, and we had to get the boards out in order to continue. In total, we lost between 25 and 30 minutes, but there is still a long way to go. Tomorrow, as it looks like being rough, I will put new tyres on, and keep the old ones for the sand. And in the dunes, we now know that we have to let the tyres down, as the car is heavy. »
Team Nissan Dessoude has taken the lead in the Production category, with Benoît Rousselot and his Nissan Pathfinder. In the Pickup camp, Jun Mitsuhashi had a good stage, while Polish driver Holowczyc had engine problems.
André Dessoude : « For Benoît Rousselot and Paul Belmondo, the day went very well. They set the two fastest times in the Production category, and, this evening, Benoît is now 29th overall, and the first T2 car. The vehicles are in perfect condition, and both look to be happy. We like to see them like that. »
Paul Belmondo : « Today, I don't feel I really pushed, but quite simply, I got back in the right pace, and we had no problems at all, no punctures and we didn't get stuck in the sand. As the ranks are beginning to thin out, we made a big improvement in the classification. At one stage, there were gutters of fech-fech, and plenty of cars were stuck. We just got through… Sometimes, you just have to be lucky ! »
Jun Mitsuhashi, in the Nissan Pickup 03, made a very good recovery. After his problems the day before, he started among the last cars, and therefore had plenty of slower competitors to overtake. This exercise is particular difficult with all this dust. They set the 56th time, and should have fewer problems tomorrow on the 350 km special stage.
Nissan Team Zhengzhou
Concerning the Team Zhengzhou Nissan Paladins, Xu Lang is maintaining position, and put in an excellent performance today. Xu and his co-driver Fabian Lurquin are 4th, meaning in the top one-third of the classification, which is very encouraging. As for Zhou Yong, he broke a suspension bearing, and had to be rescued by our race assistance truck. He should reach the bivouac this evening.
Another good day for Marc Blazquez in the Nissan Pickup entered by Nissan Spain… «Today, everything went well. Over the first fifty kilometers, we had to put up with the dust from Ivanov's Nissan and that of another Russian team in a Mitsubishi. We managed to pass them just before the palm grove, and then we got through the Merzouga dunes without problems, with 2.5 kg of pressure, without letting our tyres down. Then we finished the special stage calmly, our only problem being the motorbikes we had to overtake, which do not move out of the way very quickly, despite the Sentinel system, and who send up lots of stones on the windscrren. We had two or three impacts, but nothing serious.”
Kenjiro Shinozuka did not have the best of days, but jokingly, he said that he had some new experiences : « It was not a good day. We got suck in the sand in the Merzouga dunes, and that's the first time in my life that I have got stuck there ! Afterwards, after CP2, in a zone of fech-fech, we got stuck again. Digging myself out twice in the same day is a new experience for me, but not really one I would like to repeat. Otherwise, the car did not have any serious problems, just a few minor things to adjust. »
As for Andrej Ivanov, he got lost … and as a direct consequence, he got stuck in the sand. Nothing too serious, but the team lost around fifteen minutes.
Press Release Team Nissan Dessoude