Dakar Rally : Team Dessoude - Leg 2
The second leg of the 2007 edition of the Lisboa-Dakar, between Portimao and Malaga, included just one 67-km special stage, extremely typical of the Portuguese Baja. Winding and very technical, the stage was demanding for the drivers,
with plenty of slippery sections, as well as a river to ford…
Like yesterday, thousands of friendly and very knowledgeable spectators flocked to the site, to encourage the competitors. Over this WRC-like terrain, Miguel Barbosa finished 8th with his Dessoude Proto, while Christian Lavieille, in the Nissan Pickup 03, was 10th fastest. Yvan Muller, suffering from a slow puncture in the second Dessoude Proto, was 11th.
In the Production category, Jean-Pierre Strugo and Paul Belmondo, both driving Nissan Pathfinders, were still 3rd and 4th respectively in the category classification, ideally placed to start the African legs. As for Carole Montillet and Mélanie Suchet, they put in a fine performance and set the 83rd time, a good result for absolute beginners in this challenging event …
In today's special stage, the Team Dessoude cars managed a fine group finish, with Miguel Barbosa 8th , Christian Lavieille 10th and Yvan Muller 11th. On the eve of reaching Africa, this was of great satisfaction to the team « boss » André Dessoude.
Unhappy after yesterday's stage, Portuguese driver Miguel Barbos a began to smile again today. With an 8th fastest time in today's special stage around Portimao, he is now lying 15th overall. «The big handicap we had today was in overtaking. We went past five or six cars, trying to keep the right pace, but it was far from easy with all the dust. We didn't want to risk going off the track. The car was perfect, totally different from yesterday's problems.»
In the Nissan Pickup 03, Christian Lavieille and François Borsotto set the tenth-fastest time and are now lying 9th overall. Before reaching Africa, the crew of the nr 317 car are in the Top Ten. « Today's special stage was very enjoyable.
The track was a bit narrow, but it was interesting to drive. I am still lacking a bit of experience with the Pickup, but it's going better day after day.
We started off at quite a high pace, then opted to slow down, as some sections were quite tricky. We still have a reasonable safety margin, adopting the Dakar rhythm and not that we'd use on a Baja…. Towards the end of the stage, when it was twisting a lot, François (like a lot of navigators) began to feel a bit car sick. I'll have to be careful about that ! »
Yvan Muller, with the Dessoude Proto, 11th today and 10th overall, is not complaining… « René and I are continuing our apprenticeship, and as the kilometres mount up, we are improving our means of communication. I must admit that today's special stage may not have been the best place to learn ! The start of the route was quite nice, and we set a good pace. But the track was really not that wide, and I became aware of a definite loss of pressure in the rear left wheel. We preferred to slow down and get to the finish. »
René Metge, the Professeur, is following his pupil's progress carefully : « I'm never car-sick, but today I came close… Yvan started off rather too quickly but we soon corrected that, preferring not to take any risks. I think he understood that with a ‘cleaner' style, you can still be quick. »
Unlucky yesterday, Madalena Antas was happier today. Setting the 100th time after overtaking many competitors, the young Portuguese driver, behind the wheel of the Nissan Pathfinder T1, is trying to keep up her good spirits. The Dakar has only just started and there is still a long way to go …
The T2 race…
There were no major changes for the T2 cars today. Jean-Pierre Strugo set the second fastest time of the day, maintaining his provisional third place in the category. « We didn't have any problems today, except for the dust inside the cockpit and on my glasses ! Our race pace was set by the Bowler armada we had to overtake.
This route was particularly favourable to the extremely agile Nissan Pathfinder. I did not dare attack too much, as I don't know the car very well yet. I am very satisfied with third place overall, a position which will become more important tomorrow when we start off in Africa. On the European stages, it is important not to push too hard, but you can't afford to lose time either, and finding the right pace can make a big difference in ten days time »
Paul Belmondo is still serene : « Losing two or three minutes today will mean absolutely nothing in a few days time. On the driving front, it was a lot more enjoyable than yesterday. We are quite calm… »
Guy Leneveu, just like René Metge and François Borsotto, had a few problems with his stomach : « It's a good thing the special stage did not last too long, otherwise… »
Behind the wheel of the team's third T2 car, the ‘skiers' Carole Montillet and Mélanie Suchet, enjoyed themselves and much appreciated the scenery. Particularly at ease over this sort of terrain, Carole's delight was obvious. This evening, lying 82nd overall, the rookie crew is going well !