Dakar Rally : Team Gauloises - Leg 4
The 2007 Lisbon-Dakar Rally had started on such a positive note for Rapahel Sperrer and his co driver Sylvain Poncet as they ranked 16th overall after the second day of competition at the wheel of their SMG Buggy.
At the start
of the third day, Raphael Sperrer and Sylvain Poncet were very optimistic before the special stage. Just a few hours later it was the beginning of the end. Raphael Sperrer was racing hard and had even overtaken Robby Gordon in his Hummer-Buggy but in very poor visibility his Buggy slid into a dangerous ravine on the side of the road.
"It was impossible to see anything ahead of us because of the really thick dust," Sperrer said. "It's a real pity because we were only 40km away from the finish line. There was a huge noise and I realised immediately that we had a big problem."
Raphael Sperrer and Sylvain Poncet could not repair the damage on their own and were forced to wait for the assistance truck. But the hours went by and the truck was nowhere to be seen, it was in fact stuck along the stage with an engine problem. Eventually spare parts did arrive with the help of another team's truck to rescue the stricken Buggy.
Finally as the French SMG team truck finally arrived at the camp-site in Er-Rachidia they sent the mechanics with a smaller truck to reach Raphael's Buggy still some 300km away.
By then too much time had passed and it was impossible to make it to the control point before the deadline. Sadly, Buggy 369 is now listed as one of the retired cars.
On day four, Jean-Louis Schlesser is declared the provisional winner driving Buggy 310. He was 7'58" ahead of Spaniard Carlos Sainz and 8'05 in front of Spaniard Nani Roma.