The loop stage Marcona-Marcona was one more verification, that up to the very finish, Dakar-2019 will remain an extreme race for all at the end of tether contestants, still taking part in it.
The 323-kilometer speed section half coincided with the routes of the third and sixth stages of the rally, which greatly complicated the navigation. Chaotic traces, left by contestants in previous days, in conditions of frequent changes of course could drive the navigators crazy. It was not easier for the drivers and mechanics of truck crews. Under the conditions of extreme loads, mechanics had to be especially attentive to the operation of systems and units, constantly adjust tire pressure to avoid getting stuck and monitor the temperature of the engines. First of all it is psychologically difficult for the drivers. The price of even a small mistake in the cunning sands is too high – getting stuck or the truck falling on its side can bring to ought all achievements of the previous days of the race.
First 150 kilometers of the race on hard stony surfaces, sometimes along barely noticeable roads, became a kind of warming-up before a 20-kilometer stretch of impassable dunes, which were further replaced by sandy roads. The respite was short – from about 200th kilometer the sportsmen were awaited by another, for this time 50-kilometer, dune section.
In the morning, surprisingly for KAMAZ-master, Dmitry Sotnikov was rearranged in the starting table, not as it should have been upon the results of yesterday’s stage. The rearrangement in the table meant that he had to start earlier than Eduard Nikolaev, and considering the command tactics (to go together and help each other), he had to lose about 11 minutes to wait until E.Nikolaev’s crew caught him up. In order to find out what the reason for this starting modification of the table was, the team management turned to the organizers for clarification, who explained that it was an error in the computer system and assured to correct the starting list. In fact, this was not done and the Russian crews left the start with an unfavorable time difference. Perhaps the organizers looked a little further, wishing to break up “Nikolaev-Sotnikov” combination. As on tomorrow’s stage Marcona – Pisco, the leading groups in the moto (10 crews), car (10 crews) and truck categories (5 crews) will start 2 hours earlier than other contestants. Due to the plan of the rally organizers, this should deprive the leading sportsmen of support of the teammates, starting later.
Strange metamorphosis with the starting table complicated the task for KAMAZ crews. First of all, they had to go together on the current stage, insuring each other, and second, show approximately the same results in order to start together tomorrow (it does not matter in the top-5 or in the rest of the starters).
After the start, at the cost of 11 minutes of standstill, Dmitry Sotnikov still waited till Eduard Nikolaev started later after him: “We tried to go together, carefully and reliably. We drove into the first dunes. But already leaving them, first I heard the noise of the steering mechanism. The steering wheel was getting tighter and tighter. Steerability was getting worse. Ahead was a dangerous descent. Eduard Nikolaev’s crew has already managed to move down. We had to stop here not to risk and not to lose control on a steep slope. The steering high pressure line was damaged, the oil almost leaked out. And though our crew carries most of spare parts of first necessity, oil and spare parts of the steering mechanism were put to the truck of Eduard Nikolaev before the stage in order to reduce the mass of our truck. We contacted the bivouac via satellite phone, which is allowed to use in case of emergency. From there, appropriate instructions were given to Eduard’s crew. As they could not take the dune on which we stood back, they left a spare high-pressure line and oil for us at the appointed place on the track. We still had to go to this place without power steering. The truck was almost impossible to control. We hardly reached the place. We repaired the damage, bled air from the system. Unfortunately we lost on this more than an hour.”
In the absence of the lagging behind insuring truck, E. Nikolaev’s crew tried to drive in a reliable way, without risking, shifting, if anything, only on themselves. The Dutch Gerard De Rooy, who chased the Russians, on the contrary, did his best today to reduce the gap behind the Russians in the general classification (now he is third in the general standings after Nikolaev and Sotnikov).
Truck Category. Classification of Stage 7
|1||DE ROOY GERARD||IVECO||04:47:27||00:00:00|
|5||VAN DEN HEUVEL MAURIK||IVECO||05:38:38||00:51:11|
|8||VAN GENUGTEN TON||IVECO||06:13:00||01:25:33|
|11||VAN KASTEREN JANUS||RENAULT TRUCKS||07:14:31||02:27:04|
Truck Category. General Classification after Stage 7
|3||DE ROOY GERARD||IVECO||31:06:03||01:15:28|
|6||VAN GENUGTEN TON||IVECO||35:11:03||05:20:28|
|8||VAN DEN HEUVEL MAURIK||IVECO||36:36:02||06:45:27|
|11||VAN KASTEREN JANUS||RENAULT TRUCKS||42:26:35||12:36:00|