Stage 3 - La Rioja to Fiambala
Monday, January 4
Quotes of the stage:
Cyril Despres: "A really African-like stage"
"This is one of those stages when you set out in the morning and you think to yourself, 'ok, 180 km, that will be easy. We'll soon
be at the bivouac'. But there you are, we've just spent 3 hours battling on the bikes. It was a really African-like stage: physically tough with the heat, soft dunes and mechanical aspects to deal with. The bike suffered a bit on the first part, so I had to look after the engine. I tried to ride at a cooler pace for the last 80 km, but it was still sporty anyway. I saw Marc Coma had stopped, so I stopped next to him. I made sure my bike didn't stall because I was scared it wouldn't start again. But his engine was spluttering... it was a very complicated day".
Marc Coma: "Lady Luck was not on our side"
"It's a real pity. It's been a difficult day for us. It looks like Lady Luck was not on our side, firstly for the penalty and today for this complicated stage. As far as navigation is concerned, everything was going fine and I had a good feeling on the bike, but after 30 kilometres, the bike started to have problems. I stopped after 100 kilometres to let the engine cool down, then again after that 3 or 4 times. Mind you, the important thing is to reach the finishing line and take something positive out of the situation. David (Casteu) wanted to stop and help me, but I told him to carry on going. The second time he really did stop and couldn't get started again because of electrical problems on his Sherco. So it turned out that I ended up helping him. It's the natural thing to do, since he lost time to help me out. And also David is a fine rider. Now tonight is going to be long, because we have to find what the problem is and solve it".
David Casteu: "If it manages not to break here, it will be ok for the rest of the rally"
"I fell quite badly in the sand dunes. I was riding behind Marc, who fell. I laughed a little, then five metres afterwards the same thing happened to me! So it was his turn to laugh at me. But after that, he helped me out a lot, because when I stopped to help him, I couldn't restart due to battery problems. Fortunately, I had some jump leads with me, so I was able to recharge my battery with his bike. I was looking at all the temperature gauges and saw that it climbed to more than 100 degrees. In the big climb up the dunes, I was looking at the bike and thinking, 'poor thing, if it manages not to break here, it will be okay for the rest of the rally'. I'm not in it to when the race, but to win the 450cc category and to try and make a splash every now and then. It's true that I've ridden some very good stages since the start and again today. I caught up with Fretigne at the start then overtook him and he couldn't follow. Then Marc arrived and we rode at a fast pace in the dunes. I managed to stick with him and I'm happy to have done it with my 450cc."
Stephane Peterhansel: "It's a step along the road to victory".
"We've had a good day. We started 6th and finished 1st. It wasn't an easy day, with a short special in terms of distance. There were soft dunes, quite complicated off-road parts, big tufts of camel grass and then a big sandy climb which even the powerful race organisation vehicles had trouble getting up. It's true that we didn't let the tyres down much because it's possible to get through with a different pressure level. In short, it was hard. We also saw plenty of bikers who had stopped. The difference today could be seen right from the start, when some riders and drivers got lost, but we got it right with our navigation. Afterwards, we continued to attack and didn't let the pressure drop. For the moment, I'm not interested in stage victories, I'm more bothered about outright victory in the general standings. Today is a step along the road to victory. We'll see what the rest of the race has in store".
Carlos Sainz: "We didn't take any risks"
"It was difficult today. We had a few problems due to the engine heating and it's harder to get through in those conditions. We tried to attack but we didn't take any risks. When Perterhansel overtook us, we tried to follow, but he was going too fast".
Nasser Al-Atiyah: "It's very difficult when you open the road"
"It was really very, very difficult. We were the first car to start. On the last kilometre, Peterhansel caught us and took a lot of time from us. It's very difficult when you open the road. But it's okay: it's good we finished the day without any problems. I'm happy to be back in the dunes but they really are very soft and it's not easy".
Vladimir Chagin: "Better when there is sand"
"I was a good special stage for me. The first part was difficult and then we reached sand dunes. And for me, the harder the stage, the better. And it is better when there is sand. My truck is always extremely well prepared for the sand and the dunes!"