Dakar Rally : Team Gauloises - Leg 2
After the second 545km stage from Portimao (Portugal) to Malaga (Spain), (a 67km special and two connections of respectively 15km and 463km), Team Gauloises Raphael Sperrer has kept up the advantage after an excellent result on the first
day of the rally and finished day two in 16th position. The only Austrian driver ub the 2007 Dakar rally, Raphaël Sperrer and French co-driver Sylvain Poncet were again proud of their high-ranking finish on day two.
Pending official confirmation, Spaniard Carlos Sainz (VW) won the second special scratch time stage, 29" ahead of his countryman Nani Roma (Mitsu) and Frenchman Luc Alphand (Mitsu), both scoring the same time. Victorious in the first special stage yesterday, Portuguese driver Carlos Sousa (VW) was 9th today but remained the overall leader, 45" ahead of Sainz.
After dancing his Buggy through the dangerous and windy mountain roads, Raphael commented : « I'm pleased with the result, but it was not an easy day. The entire special stage was really dangerous. First we had an unpleasant surprise suddenly splashing through a large water run on the narrow mountain track and then later we got a fright when our Buggy ran straight into the bushes. I've never had that happen before, but through the deep, dirty water I just couldn't see anything, and there was a sharp 90-degree turn right after the water. Fortunately I was able to continue and set about building up a rhythm again. The next stage was really narrow and constantly changing directions with sharp left turns followed by sharp right turns and vice versa. »
« I want to thank Sylvain for his concentration because it was not easy for the navigator to constantly focus during the stage, » he added. « We even took time five kilometres from the end of the 67km stage to rescue US super star Robby Gordon and his Hummer as we helped them out of a difficult position.
Suddenly there was a big cloud of dust in front of us and we lost almost five minutes trying to get Robby's Hummer out of the ditch where he had landed. There was not much our light Buggy could do to rescue this really heavy monster car. Nevertheless, we tried and thanks to the great preparation by SMG, our the 6-litre V8 Buggy performed really well all day. »
« Today was only another taster of what is still to come, » he went on. « Tonight we are in Malaga ready to cross the sea on the ASO boat and I can't wait to be in the desert tomorrow entering the African continent through Morocco and to complete the 600km stage. We will start from Nador and that's where we will have to on top form again. We aimed to leave Europe in the top 20 and I'm really happy to have achieved that. It's set a good tone for the rest of the race. »