12 Януари 2004 - 23:14
Рали Дакар започна !
Стефан Петерхансел е временният лидер
Leg 1: Excellent start for Shinozuka
Kenjiro Shinozuka won the prologue of the 2003 Dakar in Marseille. This year, the Japanese driver repeated last year's performance by finishing first once again, less than one second ahead of Giniel de Villiers, also driving a Nissan Pick-up.
Miki Biasion is third at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, while many other competitors decided to be cautious to avoid mechanical problems. Colin McRae and Yves Loubet are around 25th position, while Vatanen is 34th !
Jean-Louis Schlesser had a similar strategy, avoiding unnecessary risks, especially that he was opening the road for the cars: "I went through the jumps very slowly because I knew that the others would improve my time." The Frenchman takes 21st place after the prologue.
In the motorcycle category, Italian rider Matteo Graziani was the fastest in the prologue on his 450 KTM, ahead of the two works team KTM riders, Despres and Sainct.
"Nani" Meoni is 14th and Italian Fabrizzio Meoni - who is the only one competing on a two-cylinder machine - finished the prologue in 22nd place.
CAPSIS International, 1.1.2004
Servia fastest on a tight and muddy course (Dakar 2004 - Leg 2)
Hose-Maria Servia created a surprise today by winning the second leg with his two-wheel drive buggy, despite the mud.
Against the 4X4's, this result is rather strange... until we take a look at the very narrow and twisty course that the competitors had to face all day.
Some hairpins were so tight that many drivers had to use "reverse" to make it through the corners! The heavier and bigger 4X4's were not at ease compared to the nimble buggies!
"I had to use reverse gear to turn at least ten times !" said Stephane Peterhansel, who finished second today, only three seconds behind Servia.
In third place, Gregoire De Mevius was very happy with his performance. "We lost a lot of time catching and passing Nicolas Misslin so we attacked in the jumps, and it helped us pretty well."
In the motorcycle category, David Fretigne is the fastest rider on his Yamaha. "This course suits him very well. It's a great come- back for Yamaha at the Dakar. I hope that he can win some more stages throughout the event!" said Fretigne's team boss, Patrick Zaniroli.
Cyril Despres is second, ahead of Richard Sainct in third place. "I felt that this stage wasn't for me," mentioned Sainct. "It was too tricky. However, the course was still interesting."
It was a frustrating day for Fabrizzio Meoni. His two-cylinder bike was just too heavy for the twisty and muddy course. The Italian did his best on a surface that was more appropriate for the nimble mono-cylinder KTM bikes.
CAPSIS International, 2.1.2004
Vatanen's 50th stage win ! (Dakar 2004 - Leg 4)
Ari Vatanen won his 50th Dakar stage win today at the wheel of his Nissan Pick- up. A very nice result for the experienced Nissan driver.
Colin McRae is learning fast and finished in fourth position. Stephane Peterhansel takes second place and stays in the overall lead of the event, followed by his team-mate Biasion.
The two VW Touareg of Jutta Kleinschmidt and Bruno Saby are in 14th and 15th positions today, just in front of the Buggy of Philippe Gache, who is entirely happy with his result.
On the other hand, Stephane Henrard (Buggy SMG) did not have a very good day, taking 33rd place. The Belgian got a one-hour penalty for missing the last checkpoint in Castellon.
In the motorcycle category, Fabrizzio Meoni won the 75 km stage. After taking a cautious approach in Europe, the Italian was attacking in Morocco, a country in which he has been very successful in the past.
While Meoni won the stage, Isidre Esteve Pujol took over the lead of the rally, 14 seconds in front of Meoni and 17 seconds ahead of Despres. Richard Sainct is only in 20th place overall, after taking a disappointing 30th position today.
CAPSIS International, 4.1.2004
Eventful day for Peterhansel (Dakar 2004 - Leg 5)
Stephane Peterhansel took a convincing win in today's stage but the Mitsubishi driver had an eventful day. In the liaison section, the Pajero of the race leader became motionless when it suffered from transmission problems.
His teammates Masuoka and Mayer had to use their own vehicles to pull the Mitsubishi... until they got close to the finish line. The regulation stipulates that the cars must cross the line without any outside help. Andrea Schultz, the co-driver of the German had the smart idea of trying to bump Peterhansel's Mitsu hard enough to make it cross the line... with its own engine running! "Peter" avoids a costly penalty by just fifteen minutes, thanks to his team's ingenious plan.
Superb performance by the two SMG buggies of Gache and Henrard, 9th and 24th respectively. Bruno Saby had a difficult day, his VW Race-Touareg suffered from brake problems.
Both BMW X5's of De Mevius and Alphand were able to keep their positions at the end of the day, which is very positive for the team. Jean-Louis Schlesser is aggressively moving up in the standings and should be in the top three very soon if he continues at such a fast pace
In the motorcycle category, Isidre Esteve stays in the lead of the event. The KTM rider was obviously satisfied with his performance. "I'm very happy," said Esteve. "Not only did I take the lead of the rally yesterday, I am able to stay on top today. This confirms that my KTM is perfect and that I am competitive on a fast surface."
Nani Roma finished the day in second position, in front of Fabri Meoni in third place. Behind the top three, Cyril Despres is fourth and Richard Sainct managed to stay in the top ten of the rally despite injuring his left elbow yesterday.
CAPSIS International, 5.1.2004