Dakar Rally : News from Leg 7
According to the race marshals present at CP2 (km 439), a strong sandstorm is blowing on the last kilometers of today's special stage. As helicopters cannot fly in such weather conditions, the race's management has decided – due to safety concerns
– to remove the last 134 km of the special stage, which will therefore stop at km 407.6. The competitors will then drive on tarmac up to Atar, end of stage 7 and location of tomorrow's rest day.
Interviewed at CP1, all bikers approved of the interruption of the special stage for safety reasons as the strong and gusty winds made riding particularly perilous and physically demanding.
After his father Jan De Rooy had to withdraw yesterday, it is now the son, Gerard De Rooy who did not start this morning after finding out at the Zouerat bivouac that his Ginaf truck had a melted cylinder. The De Rooy team is now on its way to Morocco.
The first 10 bikes have now passed km 343 and Frenchman Cyril Despres has been marked virtually in the lead of today's special stage, 2'36 ahead of Norwegian Pal Anders Ullevalseter and 4'42 ahead of Frenchman David Casteu.
Arrived late at night at the Zouerat bivouac, French biker Alain Delaunay managed to repair and was authorized by the race marshals to properly take part in today's stage.
After somersaulting at km 295 of the day's special stage – fortunately without any injuries for either one – Spaniard Nani Roma and his copilot Lucas Cruz Senra are now trying to repair and hope to be back in the race.
As the first 17 cars have now passed km 295, Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel has been marked as being virtually in the lead of today's special stage, 1'22 ahead of overall ranking leader, Spaniard Carlos Sainz and 1'52 ahead of Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah.
As the first 7 trucks passed CP1 (km 216), Frenchman Philippe Jacquot was only 1” behind his teammate and the leader of the overall ranking, Dutchman Hans Stacey, who is still provisional leader of the day's special stage. Ranking third was Russian Ilgizar Mardeev at 4'53.