Dakar 2006: 7th stage: Zourat > Atar (06.01.2006)

The Bird is Still Flying

Cyril Despres started the today’s stage, although with a heavy taped shoulder. The KTM Gauloises last year’s winner of the Dakar has put in all his courage and temper in this race. Despres also took the start of the special test of 499 kilometres, one of the longest of the race, and maybe one of the most difficult. Protected by his team-mate Michel Gau, the irreducible Frenchman gritted facing intolerable pain and proceeded with the leading group. Despres pushed himself beyond the pain and crossed the dunes of the first very hard off piste section. At kilometer 257 he was signalled as stopped, but not defeated by yesterday’s injury. But he only reduced his speed in order to check the situation. The story is not finished. Despres regained some positions, and at the CP2 the delay of the French champion was less than 20 minutes, and only 30 at the finish. Without any doubt an exceptional exploit. His finish result is far from his possibilities, but the blue bird, even if one of his wings is broken, is still flying.

Carlo De Gavardo, yesterday’s winner of the special, started last because of the reversed starting order and open the track. Despite this the Chilean was still leading at the first check point then at the second of the today’s special test. In the finals section of the special test the “Condor of Welken

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