AND TWO FOR DELAHAYE AND POLLI!

in last night's briefing Rene Metge said that the first part of today's stage from Mhamid to Assa would be hard to negotiate and he was right as apart fro the first three crews of the bike and car classes most people had difficulties in the first 25km, in the Erg Chegaga. The result is that Oscar Polli and Régis Delahaye both have two new stage wins, while Tomas Tomecek dominated the truck class.

Winner of yesterday's stage, Oscar Polli opened the stage and during the whole 414km taht took 6 ½ hours, he never saw another rider! He lost about 5 minutes with a small error coming out of Lake Iriki, but that didn't preventing him taking a second consecutive victory, some 10 minutes ahead of Norbert Dubois who admitted to struggling for pace across the dunes and dropped his KTM 600 nearly a dozen times.
Flying in the dunes was Xavier Moreau on a 'small' KTM 450, who managed to catch up to Dubois and ride in tandem with him, until a big navigation mistake caused him to drop nearly an hour. Nice riding of the two Yamahas enabled Thierry Hervé and Andre Lenoble to take 4th and 5th.


If everything went relatively well for bikers, it is not quite the same in the car class as there were big differences in the times at the end of today's special and it was the famous Erg Chegaga taht caused the problems. At the head of the field Régis Delahaye caught up with Jean-Louis Schlesser who was opening the course through the dunes, but a small crash gave the advantage back to the Sonangol Schlesser  Buggy ahead of the Overdrive Pick Up of Jacky Loomans. But then 'The Boss' suffered a puncture giving Loomans the lead... but it didn't last long as in the space of  10km he got 2 punctures... which let Régis Delahaye through to take a gifted win, 3'20'' to Loomans and 4'34'' to Schlesser, but Schlesser still heads the overall rankings. Performance of the day goes to the crew of Michel Barrere and Didier Haquette Turon, who were fourth in their CRD Buggy, some 30 minutes of the Russian team of Sergey Savenko and Denis Maltsev. In the SSV group the French crew of Thierry Morin and Daniel Vermeloux in their Polaris RZR 900 entered the top 20 today. In the T2 class Werner Erwin Imschoot Zoetaert their Toyota lead the dance in the eighth position overall.

Again, with the appearance of the first dunes, the truck category has seen some changes with the Czechs Tomas Tomecek and Vojtech Moraveck taking the lead after a faultless drive. Fifth overall was the result, but more importantly he was 53 minutes ahead of the MAN of Elisabete Jacinto who had a puncture in the first kilometre. The two trucks now occupy fourth and fifth places overall in the provisional standings.

After a night of New Year's Eve spent in the Assa bivouac with a temperature much milder than the past couple of nights and dinner complemented by a glass of champagne, the competitors will set off at dawn towards Sakn As in the south of Morocco. However, René Metge was "lenient" with participants for te start of the New Year, as this is the shortest stage of Sonangol Africa Eco Race...

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