Stage 5 - Copiapo to Antofagasta
Wednesday, January 6
Quotes of the stage:
Francisco Lopez Contardo: "Now I can think about the standings"
I'm really happy to be home... in Chile. The stage was really fast with Casteu. Marc (Coma)had tire
problems and in the end I was able to pass Cyril (Despres). It was a long stage. I had had problems in Argentina and now I am really happy to win a stage on home turf. Now I can think about the overall standings. In Chile all is fine... even gas is better! But again... I won a special stage, that is great but to get up in the standings there is still a lot to do.
Marc Coma: "It's not my year"
Problems again... Too bad really because it all seemed to go really well in this stage until I ripped the rear tire. I have to thank Luca (Manca) who gave me his wheel. Now it's Knuiman who will give him his wheel so he does not lose too much time. This year isn't really my year. I do know what I have done to deserve this. But I have to try and stay positive even with problems like these. But it's hard. I cannot explain what is happening to me: one day it's a penalty, the other it's the engine and then the rear tire issue today. What can I do? I have to try and stay postive and make the most of the rally...
David Fretigne: "I must climb back in the standings"
We found David (Casteu) on the ground. He had caught dust in a ravine. Unfortunately Goncalves had had to switch David's beacon on. His leg was injured. I stayed 4 or 5 minute with him. He was ok. Then the helicopter and the med SUV arrived. After that you can't go back on the track with the exact same state of mind because when you see that a rider like him can make a small mistake it is a reality check. So you try to focus on the track and on navigation. 480 km is really long. It is very hard to have the exact same focus all along. It only takes two tiny seconds of lack of attention at a bad time and you can hit a rock, dip into a ravine and fall. You have to be careful. As far as I am concerned, I must climb back in the standings slowly but surely. A Dakar is always full of surprises and changes in the standings. That's what this race is about and the race is still long.
Carlos Sainz: "There is still a lot to do"
Too bad we had a flat tire. We changed the wheel and must have lost about 2 minutes. But I am really happy that we got through this section against the clock that was really long and really tough. Obviously the time lost by Stephane Peterhansel is an advantage for us but it's only the fifth stage of the raid. There is still a lot to do. Personally, I intend to keep going at my own pace, the pace I have held since the beginning... and the pace that is delivering!
Mark Miller: "We stopped playing kiddies"
What a great day. We had a conversation last night and decided to keep up the same pace. This is what we did today; we did not take any chances. On the very rocky part I was super careful. I don't know but maybe starting later helped us. We never had any problem. We never had to get out of the car. I would say it was the perfect day. Today was the first big day of the Dakar. We were aware of it... all of us. The Dakar really started today and we are in the top positions. Today we stopped playing kiddies. There are still a few long days in the sand dunes. There will be gaps and we hope the tide will turn in our favor. Arriving here I was sure Robby Gordon had won the stage. This was his kind of stage. I am really surprised that the Volkswagen could keep up with the Hummer. Robbie is not in here for the party; he means business so congratulations to the guys in blue.
Stephane Peterhansel: "We stand no chance of even dreaming about victory"
After 120-130 km we broke the rear transmission axle, so we had to dismantle the axle first and it was not easy. Jean-Paul (Cottret) had a really hard time getting it out. Then we had to finish the stage with 2-wheel drive only, the front ones. Because it was soft terrain but with a hard rugged crust on top, when the cars drove on it it would break and we would end up in some kind of fesh-fesh. So we did not go fast at all especially in 2-wheel drive. We also got lost! We lost the rally today. We stand no chance of even dreaming about victory... that is sure! We broke the axle because there was a succession creases in the track. Each time the car would jump and land, pick up a bit of grip. We are a bit surprised. Of course it is disappointing too. We never had that before. I had never broken any part this badly. The Dakar is a raid you prepare all year long. We were feeling good. The car was doing really well and then a part broke! But there is no way to ever know with a machine!