When Draa rhymes with the Chegaga…Dunes

The first day of 2010 was definitely not a rest day, even though a tasty programme was in store for the competitors… The first twenty kilometres took place in a magnificent plain on a good track, but which was often twisty.  Reaching some low mountains, it was important to keep a close eye on the navigation…

A rocky, rough pass with a number of depressions came before the wide open spaces.  A fast plateau, a rolling track and a big saline lake towards the mountains made up the rest of the day’s programme.

At the 240 km point, it was time to get down to the serious business, with small dunes, often broken, interspersed with small flat saline lakes. ..

The last part of this third special stage went through the Draa wadi, the major Chegaga dunes and finally the Iriqui Lake… a magical panorama !


Down to serious business !

Although Jacky Loomans set off in first position this morning, it did not take long for Jean-Louis Schlesser to first catch, and then overtake him. François Lethier soon did likewise.  Without a tyre deflating system, and forced to go through the dunes with great care, the ‘Desert Fox’ did not lose his head, although he did give himself quite a scare by stopping dead right at the edge of an enormous dip.  Having avoided a catastrophe, the driver of the blue Buggy stormed towards the finish line, claiming his first stage win ahead of his team-mate François Lethier, who was delayed by a puncture and a blocked jack. Jacky Loomans, yesterday’s winner, lost some precious minutes after a puncture and becoming beached on top of a dune.  In the overall classification, the Belgian driver is lying third, approximately four minutes behind the new leader, Jean Louis Schlesser, who leads ahead of his team-mate.

Today’s big loser was Jérôme Pelichet. After a brilliant performance which would certainly have given him the stage win, the Bowler Wildcat driver saw some worrying blue smoke coming from his bonnet.  Having added oil, the Franco-Swiss team continued carefully towards the finish line, where they discovered a broken piston.  Team Raid Lynx is not giving up, however, and will do everything they can so that Jérôme and Eugénie can continue tomorrow morning.  A fine performance from ‘Mido’ should also be mentioned, as he set the 5th fastest time today, despite a small navigational mistake in the dunes, which took around 50 km to get back on the right track.   The sand, softer than expected, surprised all the competitors, who, despite a few problems, found the stage magnificent, once again.  Among the unluckier competitors,  Rudy Goeminne suffered a pierced radiator on his Audi Buggy, Karim El Zanaty, had a broken distribution cable pulley bearing, while the unfortunate Mohamed Asloun, driving the Ch’ti Kangoo, once again suffered electronic problems.

Among the trucks, it was a bad day for Elisabete Jacinto, who is now ten minutes behind Miklos Kovacs, who is still in the lead.  The Portuguese driver first suffered a rear right puncture, and then became stuck in the dunes… a tough day.  Noel Essers also suffered a few misadventures.

On two wheels, finally, the Italian clan suffered today.  Alberto Dottori pulled off his fuel tap before breaking down. This evening, Marco Capodacqua was leading the category.


Read more: Communiqué N°4