Dakar : Team Nissan Dessoude - Leg 7
The Dakar is now really underway, with a terrible stage between Zouérat and Atar, right in the heart of Mauritania. A typical Dakar stage, where, at midnight, half the competitors had not yet reached the bivouac, and were likely to spend
the night in the dunes. Between navigational difficulties and the dunes, it was truly a redoubtable day. The gaps between competitors are lengthening, and those in the lead have a strong option on the final result.
In the Nismo Challenge family, only Christian Lavieille and Albert Bosch had reached the bivouac at the time of writing (23h00 GMT). Their team-mates, still on the route, are expected during the night.
Christian Lavieille : « A long day ! We arrived at CP1 without too many problems, thanks to going round the dunes. Coming into the second erg, we saw that it was very soft. We hesitated, and finally decided to go on… and got stuck in a bowl. It took three quarters of an hour of hard work to get out. Then we landed in the camel grass in the night, and there we went again ! Stuck between two large clumps of grass. But the main thing is that we have finished this stage, where a good number will suffer. »
Albert Bosch : « I am pleased to be here… We went really very carefully. I was worried by my fuel consumption, and at the end, there were over 100 litres in the tank. I am very confident for tomorrow. At the moment, only Christian and I have crossed the finish line. I hope the others will be OK. »
Carlos Sousa, despite losing an hour stuck in the sand between two clumps of camel grass, set a good result. Tenth in the special stage, he is closing in on the top ten in the overall classification. It was an excellent day for Benoît Rousselot, who reclaimed the lead of the Production category. He put in a fine stage, with only a slight clutch problem at the end. Miguel Barbosa, on his first Dakar, is learning quickly and well. He is currently one of the rare drivers not to have got stuck today. André Dessoude is constantly holding him back, explaining that he should not take any account of the overall classification, and he appears to have understood the importance of setting the right pace. If he continues as he did today, this Portuguese team should reach the end.
René Metge is his usual self, always smiling and in good shape. He never complains about his car. Today, while reversing down a slope, he went right over a large clump of camel grass : « I am in good shape, both physically and mentally. I started this rally with a double task : to take my co-driver, Bernard Chevalier, to Dakar, and not to be too far back, around the 50th position, so that he can send his reports back to the daily newspaper L'Equipe in time. This evening, in Zouerat, we are 41st overall, and so far, I have fulfilled my contract. I found the right rhythm in order not to break our Pathfinder T2. The car's engine is a bit too touchy where the revs are concerned, but it is pleasant to drive and light. We haven't had any incidents since the start, except when we crossed the Merzouga dune, during the Er Rachidia-Ouarzazate leg, when we got a puncture 500 metres after deflating the tyres to go over the dunes. »
The bad news of the day was the retirement of Paul Belmondo and Bernard Irissou. Just after the start, at the 17- km point, while they were driving at 140 km/h, the Nissan driven by Hungarian driver Sandor Kis cut across their path, sending them into a series of rolls. The car is a total write-off, and unfortunately, Bernard, who had the bad reflex to hold on to the rollbar, has had two fingers crushed. He was immediately evacuated to France, to be operated on in the best possible conditions.
A superb result today for Jun Mitsuhashi, who set the 13th fastest time in the special stage. Quite a performance, considering the damage suffered by many today, and the large number who have not yet reached the bivouac. Jun Mitsuhashi /Jacky Dubois in a Nissan Pick-Up : « At the start, we had a few navigational problems. Then we drove well, getting stuck in the sand four or five times, but nothing too serious, losing a minimum of time on each occasion. I am very pleased with our tyre choice, which proved essential. I hope we will have as much success in the next stages. I am really pleased with my collaboration with Jacky Dubois, he is really an excellent navigator. »
Nissan Team Zhengzhou
Nissan Paladin Xu Lang / Fabian Lurquin : the Paladin arrived at the bivouac with its front end totally destroyed ! « After CP2, there was a dune where plenty of cars had already got stuck. We decided to go 200 or 300 metres to the left, and I told Xu to accelerate fully. Unfortunately, there was a big step in the rise, and we hit the front very hard. The radiator grille, the bumper, the radiator – everything had been destroyed. I stemmed the leak, picked up the pieces and got going again. Thanks to the two bikers who opened the route for us, over the last 70 kilometres, as it was dark and our headlights were gone. »
Marc Blazquez and Nacho Salvador, in the Nissan Spain Pickup, had still not reached Atar at the time of writing. They have apparently stopped just before CP1, but there is no further information available. Mechanical problems, or stuck in the sand ?
Four cars at the start, and four still in the race. The Team Tecnosport Nissan vehicles are still on their way. Even if Kenjiro Shinozuka has had some teething problems with his Pathfinder (yesterday, he had a broken suspension triangle, and was forced to wait for 90 minutes for his T4 assistance truck). The two Russians Ivanov and Novitskyi are respectively 56th and 47th. Without forgetting Lu Ninjung, now in his third Dakar. We hope this situation will continue all the way to Dakar.
Press Release Team Nissan Dessoude