Dakar Rally : News from Leg 6
Non-starters for the fifth stage, the Franco-Italian team of Eric Cassagne and Pergentine Giozzet-Raymond Louin spent the night helping the crew of Nissan No. 436 to finish the special stage yesterday, before turning around to go back and help
Toyota No. 487 out of the dunes encountered in stage 5.
Spaniard Isidre Esteve is currently at the head of the race in front of Coma, Despres, Viladoms and Blais. The five bikers, all within sight of each other, have already opened up a gap of 12 km on the chasing pack, led by Portuguese rider Ruben Faria.
At 14:07 - Second to start this morning, Spaniard Marc Coma has caught up with countryman Isidre Esteve. The two bikers are now riding together, in front of Cyril Despres, Jordi Viladoms and Chris Blais, all three of whom are isolated.
At 13.00 GMT, 8 bikers had not started the day's special stage: Nos. 64, 91, 137, 196, 201, 215, 253 and 254.
Dutch biker Michel De Groot crashed after 167 km of today's special stage, but was able to set off again. However, his GPS and Iritrack are no longer working.
The Argentine Orlando Terranova has suffered engine failure and is now waiting for the broom car.
The Frenchman Cyril Despres has decided to try out a navigational trick and has veered away from the tracks of Marc Coma and Isidre Esteve after 300 km.
After suffering an engine failure that could not be repaired after 374 km of the connection section, Portuguese driver Magdalena Cupertino de Miranda and French co-pilot Patrick Antoniolli are now waiting for the broom car and will therefore not start the day's special stage.
On very muddy tracks, the race nevertheless started at a crazy pace.
The two Volkswagens of Carlos Sainz and Giniel de Villiers opened proceedings and where timed at 180km/h, opening up a gap on the Mitsubishis of Peterhansel and Alphand. Only Jean-Louis Schlesser, thirteenth to leave this morning, seems capable of keeping up with them, with a top speed of more than 190 km/h.
Now that the first 12 cars have completed 76 km of the day's special stage, Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser is the virtual leader, 1'01" ahead of Spaniard Carlos Sainz and 1'17 in front of American Mark Miller.
Having ground to a halt after 60 km of the special stage, Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka is currently lying underneath his car carrying out repairs.