ZOUERAT, Mauritania - The French duo of Dominique Housieaux and Loic Fagot led the Ralliart teams across the border into the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in 20th place and were classified 15th overall at the end of the day. "It was a tremendously fast stage, but several of the top cars had problems and we benefitted from this," said the Frenchman.
Brazilian team mates Klever Kolberg and Rouldan Lourival began the day in 21st overall in their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero and set the 18th fastest time. "It was quite difficult on the liaison today," said Kolberg. "There were a lot of rocks and you had to be careful even before the stage. The wind was also a problem. It was moving the sand and I had to look 500 meters ahead of the car, rather than at the road ahead where there could have been rocks. We passed some small dunes as well. They were not a problem, but you are never sure how difficult they will be."
Krzysztof Holowczyc and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin crash-landed their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero and lost a lot of oil after PC3 on the stage into Smara. The Pole was forced to stop on three occasions to top up the engine. "I was concerned about the engine. We ran for five kilometers with no oil," said the Pole. "You can change a gearbox and the suspension, but if the engine goes that is it. I found it difficult to keep my concentration on the long stage. It was the longest of my life and now today’s stage was even longer!"
Chinese driver Guan Yuang Men began the first Mauritania stage in 40th position with French co-driver Serge Henninot. "We had a flat tyre and a small mecanical problem yesterday, but I am delighted to be running so far up the field at this stage. Serge and I are getting on well and I am learning all the time."Published 6 January 2005