This morning, the Sonangol-Schlesser buggy set off first at the start of the Special. Because he won last year, Schlesser has the lowest race number and the other drivers left at two minute intervals after him, in ascending order. The buggy leading the way on the rally has the best position. However, the driver and navigator can use very few tracks; there are some left by the bikes beforehand that are not too clear on the sand but easier to see on the hard track and almost invisible in the morning. It's also an uncomfortable position because those who follow the leader can spot their dust and this makes it easier to catch them up.
This is exactly what happened, first with Jacky Loomans and then Jérôme Pelichet who drove at the rear of the blue buggy.
It lasted for practically five hours, from the beginning to the end of a long stage with more than 400 km of Special and only a small 10 km liaison, the well driven Toyota put on a good performance and maintained a gap of only a few hundred meters...
Jean Louis Schlesser and his teammate Cyril Esquirol won the stage with only one minute thirty seconds of advance over their rivals! They fought from beginning to end for the victory!
Here's what Jean Louis had to say as he arrived : "Even though Jérôme was in front at times, I lead the way during most of the day and it wasn't easy! Cyril, who had been a bit sick, assured the navigation with ease and we didn't make any mistakes. We had some small problems but nothing serious. The Special was superb, beautiful landscapes everywhere. Whatever the ground, we saw everything that Africa has to offer. Sand (of course), boulders, quicksand and gravel on very nice tracks. I got up to 204 km/h. To beat Pelichet it was necessary to give it everything, he's fast!”
Tomorrow the stage is from Tagounite to the Draa Oued, with the passage of the Erg of Chegaga, a kind of Everest of sand… 433 km of Special!
Press Sonangol-Schlesser Team