Last straight before Agadir…

There was no way that this fourth timed stage could be called ‘easy’, but, once again, the wonderful mountain scenery definitely made it worthwhile !

From the 70 kilometre point until the finish line, the route was extremely varied… The track, which was often rocky, went through saline lakes, bumps, dips, soft sand, major wadis with vegetation, up hill and downhill into beautiful valleys… Even if the navigation became easier towards the end, it was better to remain between the cairns … when there were any…

 

Blue on the track !

Today saw a second consecutive stage win for Jean-Louis Schlesser, ahead of his team-mate François Lethier. The gap was considerable, and the ‘blues’ are disappearing into the distance, leaving Jacky Loomans 57 minutes behind.  The surprise of the day was Jean-Jacques Jousseau, third on today’s stage with his Toyota. For his very first rally, the Parisian put in a perfect performance, setting the right pace and with no mistakes from his navigator Fréderick Fourdraine.  Well done, gentlemen ! However, it was a bad day for Jacky Loomans, who lost time after suffering a puncture, and losing his way in the saline lake.  Edmond Pelichet solved his radio and Terratrip problems, and when the material works properly, the results come too… a superb 5th place finish !  Vincent Demonceaux and José Castan continue their journey with clockwork-like regularity, 6th today and 6th overall.  As for Jérôme Pelichet, who came close to throwing in the towel this morning (4 km after the start), finally reached the finish line having added six litres of oil and offered up many prayers to keep his engine pressure up.  In the Egyptian clan, there were no particular problems for ‘Mido’ today, who was however complaining of back pain.  As for Karim El Zanaty, his apprenticeship of the Moroccan tracks is continuing. Behind the wheel of the Cotel Buggy, Gilles Florin was being philosophical : It’s a long way to Dakar… Miroslav Kubicek is enjoying himself day after day … his Range Rover is running like clockwork and the driver is smiling !

Among the trucks, Noël Essers set the best time. The Belgian driver played the right hand with perfect navigation, despite two punctures. As for Miklos Kovacs, he had quite a scare when the cabin of his Scania started to move, 50 km from the finish line.  The Hungarian has kept the lead of the overall classification, 22 minutes ahead of Elisabete Jacinto. Speaking of Elisabete, she had some electronic problems today, and having led for much of the special stage, she lost time towards the end.  

In the bikes category, Giovanni Stefani was the fastest today.  Convinced he had fallen to the last place due to two punctures to his fuel tank, the Italian finally crossed the finish line with a 25-minute lead.  At the same time, he has taken the lead in the overall classification.  The rest day tomorrow in Agadir will be welcome for everyone.  A perfect opportunity to get both the competitors and their vehicles back in top condition !

Atmosphere…

 

Jean-Louis Schlesser – Buggy Schlesser

« The special stage was fast, but there was plenty of navigation.  We had to look for the route going through a wadi, but it was nothing compared to yesterday !  We will take advantage of this rest day to maintain the cars and to rest.  Over these first four stages, we have put in a good team performance.”

 

François Lethier – Buggy Schlesser

« For the buggies, today’s stage was a great playing field.  Up until now, the overall result is quite satisfactory… In Mauritania, it will be another story… »  

 

Jean-Jacques Jousseau – Toyota

“We are already very pleased to have got this far.  For our first rally, we are trying to follow the pace.  It was a superb stage, and we are more than satisfied with the result. Like an old couple, Fréderick and I have had a few arguments but everything is going well…”

 

Jacky Loomans – Nissan Navara

“ Problems !  First of all we got stuck in some rocks and sand, while looking for the way out of a wadi.  Afterwards, we kept on going forwards and backwards over the saline lake trying to find the right route.  We lost a lot of time today.. too much time. The rest day will do us good, before facing the second part.”

 

Jérôme Pelichet – Bowler Wildcat

« I don’t know how we managed to get to the finish line… we added six litres of oil, and over the last five kilometres, the oil pressure light came on !  The mechanics worked all night on the car just so that we could take part.  The rest day will be used to get our engine back in condition, to find some spare parts and be ready to carry on…”

 

Noël Essers -  MAN

« We had a good stage yesterday and set the best time today, so it’s perfect ! I did my best despite two punctures, and if this carries on… we’ll get to Dakar ! »

 

Elisabete Jacinto – MAN

«The stage was fast, but at about 20 km from the finish line, the truck stopped… We had thought that this problem with an electronic sensor had been fixed after we had the same problem on the Shamrock… It’s not fair, as we’d been in the lead throughout the stage and this problem spoiled everything !”

 

Giovanni Stefani – Yamaha

« I am really happy !!! Despite the fact that my fuel tank punctured twice, I’m in the lead … when I thought I’d be last… Tomorrow, we’ll have to put the bike back in condition and prepare everything for the rest of the event… “