Auto/Dakar: Béarnais Cazalet still leading the T3 before the sand dunes


Lhe Dakar had a rest day yesterday in Riyadh after eight demanding stages made even more difficult by unexpected weather conditions. Machines and men traveled…

Lhe Dakar had a rest day yesterday in Riyadh after eight demanding stages made even more difficult by unexpected weather conditions. The machines and men traveled 3,000 km. They have 1,214 to go from here to Dammam, with one highlight: the dunes of the Empty Quarter.

The Béarnais involved in the Dakar are all still in the race.

François Cazalet, totally in his bubble so far, came out of it yesterday during the rest day to go see his friends, in particular his friend Benoît Soulas, assistant race director for the cars. The Béarnais, professional co-pilot in an OT3 (light prototype), can be satisfied. His crew has been in the lead for several days: “We had planned with Guillaume (de Mevius), a wise strategy so as to gauge ourselves against the competition and stay in the leading pool. What we did without aiming for stage wins, we got one. We use the Peterhansel method… And then, as we were not badly paced, we let go” says the farmer from Coublucq. However, the Grallyteam crew had to deal with an impressive number of punctures: around thirty! Much more than their rivals. They only have a lead of 3 min 19 on their first pursuers, but more than an hour on the 3rd and 2 hours on the 4th. “It’s rewarding for us, the little thumbs with a reliable OT3, to be ahead against the armada of Can-A and Polaris. “he estimates. “The two days in the Empty Quarter are going to be perilous, warns François Cazalet. Finishing the first half in the lead is not enough, we must now play the second and win the match! »

Pierre Lachaume in the top 20

The driver Pierre Lachaume (Sport 2000 at Lons) is on his side well back in the hierarchy after his technical problems at the start of the rally, since he ranks 20th overall. He is 5.5 hours behind the race leader, Nasser al-Attiyah.

Another Béarnais is entered in the car category: Vincent Albira (from Rontignon), Jean-Philippe Beziat’s navigator, is in good spirits, in 108th place overall. He will remember his first night under the stars: “We were waiting for the assistance truck. Sleep gaining us, we dozed off on tires. At 5:15 a.m., wake up, repair and head to the bivouac. »

Gérard Tramoni and Dominique Totain (114th) will remember from the special bringing them back to Riyadh that “a steering ball joint was ready to let go and prevented us from climbing the dunes. We first decided to wait for the truck and as it was late, we took the option of losing the waypoints and heading to the bivouac…” explains Dominique Totain. « We are awaiting the decision of the FIA ​​to remain in the general classification or to join the Experience classification », specifies the manager of this 100% Béarnais team, Gilles Lafeuillade.

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