Dakar Rally : Team Dessoude - Leg 6
The first Mauritanian leg was the longest of the rally, nearly 1000 km in total. After a long preliminary liaison section taking them to the Mauritanian border, the day's special stage was nearly 400 km long. A real navigation stage over
a sandy trail, which became faster, follow ed by camel grass, with a few chains of dunes to cross. As expected, this 6th leg proved to be ruthless for the competitors, and the list of retirements is growing longer…
Within Team Dessoude, Miguel Barbosa set a fine time, finishing 16th in the stage, while Paul Belmondo set the fastest time in the Production category . The news was not so good for Christian Lavieille, who had electrical problems and lost an hour, while Madalena Antas was struggling with a recalcitrant engine.
Yvan Muller drove very well and set the 21st fastest time, despite the having some difficulties with his suspension. Day after day, Jean- Pierre Str ugo is nibbling away at the gap separating him from his nearest rival in T2, Jean Jacques Ratet. Mélanie Suchet (who was driving the Nissan Pathfinder today while Carole Montillet took care of the navigation), did not hide her delight over the sand, which she particularly enjoys.
Morale is high within Team Dessoude ; there is still a long way to Dakar and many things can still happen in the overall classification. All the technical personnel are working hard every evening to allow the crews to set off each morning with freshly serviced vehicles.
Quotes from Drivers and Navigators…
Paul Belmondo – Nissan Pathfinder T2:
« A cloud-free day. No problems at all with the car. Everything went well. The days might follow one another, but the situation is totally different. »
Guy Leneveu – Nissan Pathfinder T2:
« We really had fun ! We quickly found the right pace and we were getting on well in the notes. The dunes were no problem at all… »
Mélanie Suchet – Nissan Pathfinder T2:
« It was a real joy today.
We were expecting more sand, but in the end, the dunes were just a formality. We stopped just once to let the tyres down. There were no navigation problems, and this time, Carole (in the right-hand seat) wasn't ill !!! »
Jean-Pierre Strugo – Nissan Pathfinder T2:
« We drove well, but so did our rivals ! Considering the damp track on the long liaison section, I was rather concerned about what we'd find in the special stage, but actually it was dry. »
Miguel Barbosa – Proto Dessoude :
« I am very happy today. We set a good time and the suspension was perfect. I am just sorry that we have lost some of our top speed compared to our usual performances. »
Yvan Muller – Proto Dessoude :
« The special stage was nice to drive, except for the camel grass… We are having some problems with the suspension, and according to the terrain we are crossing, it can be physically more or less difficult. »
René Metge – Proto Dessoude :
« I am pleased with Yvan's day. He drove well, according to the Dakar pace. I have tried to point out the vital things about the desert, such as the visual markers, the vegetation which sometimes defines the terrain at a distance. »
If the first Mauritanian leg was not a Sunday drive, the next one will also be far from boring. Between Zouerat and Atar (the day before the scheduled rest day), the remaining competitors will be faced with a 542 km special stage, including trails, off-track and dunes.