OMAN DESERT EXPRESS QUEST - It´s elbow to elbow in the ranking!

OMAN DESERT EXPRESS QUEST - It´s elbow to elbow in the ranking!

06.03.2006: OMAN DESERT EXPRESS QUEST - It´s elbow to elbow in the ranking!

This morning, at precisly eight o'clock, the thirty-two cars in the second Oman Desert Express Quest 2006, were lined up along the beach of "Bora-Bora" waiting to be maned by their crews. The 64 helmeted competitors took part in a standing start worthy of the legendary days 24-Hour Lemans. They they were placed under the starters orders of Denis Marcel, Director of Total's competition service assisted by Patrick Brignoli, President of Group Event Company.

The flatout sprint across the sand was one of courage and good humour. The day before, during the last briefing given by Jean Louis Dronne, Race Director and course designer of this Oman Desert Express Quest 2006, the provisional race ranking came in and it was well talked about by everyone concerned. Though certain crews could take heart in the results so far, others showed their disappointment by their dejected espressions!

There are still four days of trials of pure navigation to go, during which some crews can still make a comeback in the distance stakes, the only criterion taken into account in this race, with no teams thus far having shorted-circuit a way-point or control point.

On the board, the crews from Eastern Europe are leading the dance with the clear intention of winning the event on their first appearance. And when Boris Gadasin-Andrey Kuznetsov & Aleksander Mironenko-Konstantin Palevich (n°8), race leaders after three days, discovered their surprising position, they acknowledged: "There is still along way to go before we can start to celebrate!" The first six crews are all neck and neckwith each other (18.80 km).

Pushing the leaders hard are team n°2, Alexandre Debanne/Patrick Lardeau with Bruno Pomart/Hervé Pieujan & Alaxandra Di Andia-Florence Bourgnon (n°4), only 11.07km behind the leaders. Two Russian crews are next with in order team n°7 (Yuri Ovchinnikov/ Alexander Baranenko & Mikhail Klyuyko/Igor Pentinen) at 14km and team n°10 (Mikhail Naryshkin/Antanas Juknevicius & Arunas Lekavicius/Ramunas Kruckauskas) at 15.60km.

The French of Jean-Paul Godefroid/Marc Leroy & Victor Grifnée/Manu Henri are in the sixth place showing a gap of 15.60km on team n°8. The all Female team (Sylviane Goutaland/Ombeline De Clermont Tonnerre & Fabienne Savel/Estelle Kingold) are delighted to hold b eighth position, promising to get better in their calculations and faster in order to improve their ranking, if they can while keeping in the line with the regularity sections.

They precede the French quartet, George Lansac/Reynal Privé & Jerome Hardy/Jean-Luc Letu, six kilometers separates them. Disappointment was visible on the face of Andre Dessoude, eleventh in the ranking: "My priority is to get in the top ten!" he said before the start. The organiser of the Saint-Lo thought he would be in a better position: "Our option to circumvent the erg on the second stage, even though the sand was hard, handicaped us a lot on the this current ranking".

Bringing up the rear of the race in their first participation in any rally is team n°14, though they can be proud of their performance. Florence Deronce, one of the drivers commented: "We were driving for the very first time in these great big things (an allusion to the gigantic dunes), getting out of them was a victory for all of us!"

With their moral out the roof after regrouping on the superb beach of "Bora-Bora", the crews set off agina took again on the competition with renewed enthusiasm. During four last stages, the terrain will be completely different from that discovered over these first three days. Dunes are still on the menu but the diversity of the locations will enable them to complete their discovery of this superb country of Oman.

For all the latest on The Oman Desert Express Quest 2006 go to:  February 28th, 2006 

Photographs: Alain Rossignol
Picture of the day: Bora-Bora line start departure on line Fabrice Michalon

- Agence Cathy BURG-


06.03.2006 / MaP

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