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It was hell out there !
Dakar : Team Nissan Dessoude - Leg 8
568 kilometres including 508 of timed stage were on the menu for this eighth leg, which took place in Mauritania. It was not the longest stage, but might well have been one of the most tiring. Exhausted by the day before, all the competitors
were dreaming of arriving in Nouakchott, and the possibility of resting until Monday. The half-way point has now been reached, but the 4948 kilometres already covered are a heavy burden. And today, on leaving Atar, the competitors faced a winding route through canyons and wadis, used their last strength to battle a colossal erg and tricky dunes, before a final rush at the end of the stage...
Nismo Challenge
To the great satisfaction of the team, all the Nismo Challenge competitors reached the Atar bivouac yesterday evening. The last to arrive this morning was Josep Roca, who collapsed in his tent at around 6 am in order to grab a few hours sleep… No sooner arrived than it was time to go again. After yesterday's hard day, today did not prove to be a picnic either. Various difficult sections and soft sand definitely added spice to the day's stage. Christian Lavieille and Marc Bartholomé were the first to reach Nouakchott, while their team-mates followed a bit later. Christian told us about his colourful day :

« It was hell out there…We started off with quite low tyre pressures as the sand was soft, and moreover the time we started would not help at all. We were very careful over the stones. We deflated the tyres to 700 gr. This sequence of alternating rocks and soft sand was very disruptive and kept on breaking the rhythm. In a magnificent canyon, the inevitable happened, and we had a puncture.

Then, after 150 km, a tyre came off the rim. We increased the pressure, and that was when we saw Mitsuhashi, who had rolled his car. A bit later, in an erg, we saw cars beached everywhere. We managed to get through, but we then took a while to find the waypoint. Afterwards, I took a parallel track, expecting to find it at the end. But unluckily it wasn't the right one, there was no CP at the end. We made a 90 degree turn and found it. The finish was quite hard, we drove in the dust thrown up by a Bowler at 10km/h…It was really not a good day. Another day of sand, and we'll be back on the sort of terrain where we can have fun ! »

Nissan Dessoude
After the accident which befell him and Bernard Irissou yesterday, Paul Belmondo reached Nouakchott today. Unhurt in that terrible crash, Paul has still not come to terms with it. Bad luck in its purest sense : “We had decided to go carefully, as Bernard and I sincerely wanted to reach Dakar – this year was my 9th participation.

But unfortunately, fate had made other plans. While we were driving down a parallel track, the Hungarian competitor, which we did not see and who had not seen us, as he was focused on the truck in front of him that he wanted to overtake, came onto the track on which we were driving. The collision was very violent, and the car rolled immediately. Bernard counted seven rolls. He underwent an operation this morning on the finger that was damaged in the accident. I hope everything will be OK for him. »

More bad news today, as Benoît Rousselot lost the lead of the Production category to Jean Jacques Ratet. Benoît now has a delay of 20 minutes. Nothing too serious, but today was a real nightmare for him, with non-stop problems. Another piece of bad news concerned Jun Mitsuhashi, whose Nissan Pickup rolled today, and which has been forced to retire.

There were no problems for Miguel Barbosa in his Nissan X-Trail, but he lived up to the Dakar spirit : “The navigation was very difficult. We got lost twice, but everyone made the same mistakes, so it was not too serious. Six kilometers from the finish, a biker had fallen, and was slightly hurt. We stayed with him until the medical help arrived. »

The Miitsuhashi/Dubois team was extremely unlucky today, and has had to retire from this edition of the Dakar. Jacky Dubois explained the day's events. « We had lost the brakes for about 30 kilometres. I blocked the brake tube with a bit of wood, but it wasn't very efficient. In order to brake, you had to pump between ten and fifteen times.

At the 90-kilometre point, the road book announced a bowl, which was classified as a level-2 danger (the maximum level is 3). But the note was slightly out of place. Jun started to brake, but as he didn't see the danger coming, he accelerated, and 100 metres later, the bowl was there. Too late. We rolled. It was one of the Nissan Paladin cars which helped us to get back on our wheels. I started without problems, and we finished the special as good as possible, even if we did the last 55 kilometres in the dark. We drove behind a quad at 50/60 km/h who was lighting the way for us, and who helped us get to the end. Unfortunately, the rollbar is bent on my side. It would be impossible to continue for safety reasons. We have to retire. »

Nissan Team Zhengzhou
Nissan Paladin/Xu Lang/Fabian Lurquin : « Navigation was crazy today. We didn't have too many problems over the dunes at the start, but after around 250 km, there were trails everywhere and tracks heading in every direction. To follow the GPS points, we did at least 55 km more than in the road-book. We also had our first puncture. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards, we lost the wheel, as the wheel nuts had not been properly fixed on. The bolts were damaged, and we finished the stage by retightening the wheelnuts every ten minutes. »

Tot Curses
Yesterday evening, we did not know what had happened to Marc Blazquez…Marc is still in the race, but he explained his problems of the day before. « We started off well, without the slightest problem. At the 170 km point, we stopped, and when we wanted to continue, it was impossible to get the car started. Due to the heat and the sand, the starter had got blocked. We waited for a while, and as it cooled, we were able to get going again.

The same thing happened at the 299 km point, but as we were beached in the sand, there was no way that we could sort things out quickly. When we were finally able to get going again, the clutch was out. Therefore, it was better to miss CP2 and to take a time penalty. If we had continued in the stage, I think we would have had to retire. We will use the rest day to work on the car and get the team back in condition… The aim is still to get to Dakar. Today, considering we left among the very last competitors, our 32nd place in the stage is quite satisfactory. We overtook a lot of cars and trucks. We got a bit lost at CP2. The vehicle went well, and we considered this stage as a transition day, to get ourselves back in the race. »

Tecnosport
In the Tecnospor teamt, Kenjiro Shinozuka has been having the same problems for a number of days. His new generation Nissan Pathfinder's steering joint has broken every day. Today, the unfortunate Japanese driver had to stop after 4 kilometres of the stage, and wait for his T4 truck. A problem that the Team Manager, Daniele Canonico , is hoping to sort out, trying to understand why this piece is breaking systematically. As for Andrej Ivanov, he has had electrical problems, which lost him quite a lot of time.
Press Release Team Nissan Dessoude


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