Sainct wins 2003 Dakar Rally

Published: 14 January 2003

Frenchman Richard Sainct has won the 2003 Dakar Rally. The thirty-two-year old won five stages on his way to victory, completing the rally in 53 hours, 24 minutes and 32 seconds.

Sainct was riding a KTM 660 LC4, and finished just seven minutes ahead of fellow French KTM rider, Cyril Despres. Third was Italian Fabrizio Meoni on a KTM 950 LC8.

Top British rider was Derrick Edmondson, who finished in 33rd overall, with Michael Extance taking 42nd, and Nick Plumb 56th. Plumb, riding for Team Dome BMW, can be proud of his 56th, after a huge crash on Day 12. The organisers had advised him to pull out with a written-off bike and a suspected broken ankle, but he was able to continue with assistance, and managed to finish the rally. This is despite struggling to put weight on his ankle, and losing most of the skin from his right hand. Considering that Dakar riders spend most of their day upright on a bike travelling at high speed off-road, it’s amazing that he not only managed to continue but also achieved such a creditable result.

Day Seventeen: The final day of the Dakar Rally is a short 56km, with a special stage accessible to spectators. Prize-giving takes place at the end of the stage.

The stage was won by Swede Per-Gunnar Lundmark, ahead of Ullevlaseter, Meoni, Despres and Flick. Leader Richard Sainct finished sixth, which was enough to give him the overall win. Seventh was Czachor, eighth Perez, ninth Sala, and tenth Pellicer.

Derrick Edmonson was 26th on the final stage, Michael Extance 36th and Nick Plumb 56th.

The final overall positions are: 1) Sainct 53h 24’ 32. 2) Despres +07’18. 3) Meoni +37’30. 4) Brucy +1h36’29. 5) De Azevedo +1h46’05. 6) Lundmark +1h55’57. 7) Ullevalsetter +2h40’42. 8) De Gavardo +3h40’42. 9) Dabrowski 3h51’00. 10) Flick +4h03’06.

33) Edmondson + 14h52’28. 42) Extance +17h01’57. 65) Plumb +28h37’58.

Day Sixteen: The penultimate stage, and the longest in the rally. A total of 828km alternating between magnificent green valleys and stretches of narrow, rocky terrain.

The stage was won by Despres, mounting a last charge for the lead. Second was Sainct, third Coma, fourth Meoni, and fifth Lundmark. Sixth De Azevedo, seventh Pellicer, eigth Brucy, ninth Ullevlaseter and tenth Mitsuhashi.

Overall standings: 1) Sainct. 2) Despres. 3) Meoni. 4) Brucy. 5) De Azevedo. 6) Lundmark. 7) Ullevalseter. 8) De Gavardo. 9) Dabrowski. 10) Flick.

33) Edmondson. 42) Extance. 65) Plumb.

Day Fifteen: A special stage without GPS means navigation again becomes all important for the 477km stage. The stage follows well-marked tracks, but the question is which track is the one to take.

Meoni took the stage, with Lundmark second, Coma third, Despres fourth, and Sainct fifth. Sixth was Brucy, seventh De Azevedo, eighth Ullevalseter, ninth Pellicer and tenth Flick.

Overall: 1) Sainct. 2) Despres. 3) Meoni. 4) Brucy. 5) De Azevedo. 6) Lundmark. 7) Ullevalseter. 8) De Gavardo. 9) Dabrowski. 10) Flick. 35) Edmondson. 42) Extance. 69) Plumb.

Day Fourteen: 702km with a 274km special stage. The stage begins uphill, climbing a hill-climb style ascent onto a winding camel track through rocky mountains. Once riders find the right valley to descend in, they can enjoy the kilometre long descent down a sand ramp, before finishing the day in Luxor.

Another stage win for overall leader, Richard Sainct. He was followed by Despres, Coma, Lundmark, Ullevalseter, Stanovnik, De Azevedo, Brucy, Flick and Pellicer.

Overall: 1) Sainct. 2) Despres. 3) Meoni. 4) Brucy. 5) De Azevedo. 6) Lundmark. 7) De Gavardo. 8) Ullevalseter. 9) Dabrowski. 10) Flick.

Day Thirteen: 657km covered, with a 569km special stage. Siwa to Daklha means crossing the " Great Sand Sea " and " White Desert " . The ‘Sand Sea’ is an ocean of dunes, some reaching 100 metres or more, followed by the winding track of the ‘White Desert’ which snakes between limestone rock formations before passing through canyons to reach the Dakhla oasis.

The stage was won by Italian Fabrizio Meoni, followed by Sainct, Despres, Brucy and Flick.

Overall the standing are: 1) Sainct. 2) Despres. 3) Meoni. 4) Brucy. 5) De Azevedo. 6) Lundmark. 7) De Gavardo. 8) Ullevalsetter. 9) Dabrowski. 10) Duclos.

Brit Nick Plumb had to persuade an FIM official he was fit enough to continue after his crash yesterday. Despite the event medics forbidding him to continue, he was able to ride today’s stage alongside Canadian rider Shaun Price. Price had to navigate for both of them, since Plumb had destroyed his GPS unit in his crash and didn’t have a road book, which marks all of the danger points. Despite an overheating bike, Plumb was able to complete the stage and looks good to finish the rally.

Day Twelve: Today’s stage is 445km. The riders won’t actually get very far, though, as the stage travels round in a huge loop, with posts marking the route, and support vehicles parked halfway round the loop.

The stage gave a chance for some upsets, with Giovani Sala taking the stage win, followed by Ulevalseter, Stanovnik, Dabrowski and Duclos. Despres was seventh, with overall leader Sainct in 11th. It’s the first time Sainct has finished a stage lower than seventh. Brit Michael Extance finished the stage in 29th, with Derrick Edmonson finishing 54th. Nick Plumb finished in 95th.

Overall the standings are: 1) Sainct. 2) Despres. 3) Meoni. 4) Brucy. 5) De Azevedo. 6) De Gavardo. 7) Lundmark. 8) Ullavalseter. 9) Coma. 10) Dabrowski.

37) Edmondson. 48) Extance. 77) Plumb.

British Dakar rookie Nick Plumb was on for a terrific time today, when he unfortunately crashed between checkpoints three and four. His BMW F650 GS Dakar was almost unrideable with the rear fuel tank coming off, the frame bent, and the GPS system wrecked. Officials came by helicopter to inspect Plumb and his bike, and urged Nick to leave the rally with a suspected broken ankle. Instead he got some assistance to patch the bike together and rode on to finish the stage. Although his ankle is not broken, the fact that he is determined to continue shows a lot of determination, especially as he’ll be tackling 100m high dunes with an injured ankle.

Day Eleven: A total distance of 586km is covered today. The special stage is 438km off-road, battling dunes which can reach 100 metres high. The riders will leave Libya, and will arrive at Siwa in Egypt.

The stage was won by Meoni, from Sainct, Despres, Lundmark and Coma.

Overall the standings are: 1) Sainct. 2) Despres. 3) Meoni. 4) Brucy. 5) De Azevedo. 6) De Gavardo. 7) Lundmark. 8) Ullevalseter. 9) Coma. 10. Dabrowski.

36) Edmondson. 73) Plumb.

Reports have come in that Patsy Quick needed to be rushed to hosptial with a suspected ruptured spleen. She crashed 42km into the 438km stage, and after initial examination, she was taken to a hospital in Siwa to undergo surgery. We’ll have more news as it arrives.

The stage was won by Meoni, from Sainct, Despres, Lundmark and Coma.

Day Ten: Today is billed as a transition stage to allow everyone a chance to regroup. It covers 554km, and the 521km special stage is the first to take place without the use of GPS, meaning that navigation is of the utmost importance.

This stage is the first stage victory for Swede Per-Gunnar Lundmark Behind him are Despres, Sainct, De Gavardo and Coma.

Overall, the standing are: 1) Sainct. 2) Despres. 3) Meoni. 4) Brucy. 5) De Azevedo. 6) De Gavardo. 7) Lundmark. 8) Ullevalseter. 9) Coma. 10) Dabrowski.

35) Edmondson. 78) Plumb

Day Nine: Racing through Libya, this day covers rolling plateaus and mountains, including the Al haruj Massif volcano. Navigation is made tougher by little tracks which change direction every few hundred metres.

The stage became the fourth to be won by Richard Sainct. The Frenchman finishing ahead of Meoni, De Azevedo, Despres and Brucy

Day Eight: A tough day on a 497km special stage rumoured to be one of the toughest in the event’s history. Competitors leave Ghat, heading for Algeria before turning back through giant dunes and chiselled rocks. Finally the riders will have to cross Murzuk Erg, famous for its waves on uncrossable sand.

The stage was won by Giovani Sala, from Brucy, Despres, Coma and Roma.

Laurence Noble was forced to retire.

Day Seven: Today was the first marathon stage, with the special stage lasting 584km, and a today distance covered of 691km. The longest special stage of the rally, it was going to make navigation important.

The stage was won by Frenchman Richard Sainct, over a minute ahead of Fabrizio Meoni. Joan Roma was a further three minutes behind.

Overall, the order is: 1) Sainct. 2) Meoni. 3) Roma. 4) Despres. 5) Cox. 6) Sala. 7) De Azvedo. 8) Brucy. 9) De Gavardo. 10) Lundmark.

There is a battle developing for the top British rider, between Michael Extance, who has dropped to 48th place, and Derrick Edmondson, who has climbed to 49th. Patsy Quick is in 126th, in another battle of the Brits, with Nick Plumb who is in 129th. Laurence Noble appears to have retired after stage 5.

Day Six: Alfie Cox gained his first stage victory on this 278km long test. This was the first of the long special stages, with 228km of desert to contend with. Cox finished the stage ahead of Roma, Despres, Meoni and Sainct.

At the end of the stage, the overall standings are: 1) Sainct. 2) Roma. 3) Meoni. 4) Cox. 5)Despres. 6) Coma. 7) De Azevedo. 8) Sala. 9) Lundmark. 10) Brucy.

Top Brit Michael Extance is now in 30th position overall on the Honda XR650. Derrick Edmondson is now in 51st overall, with Patsy Quick in 110th. Nick Plumb has dropped to 126th overall after tyre problems. Laurence Noble has not reached the end of stage six at this time.

Day Five: Today’s stage is 494km, from Tozeur to El Borma. This marks the start of the long desert stages, with the Special stage lasting for 185km. The terrain gets a little easier towards the end of the stage, but more speed will make it trickier to navigate.

The standings at the start of the day are headed by Joan Roma, who leads De Azevedo, Sainct, Despres and Meoni. Sixth is Duclos, seventh Marques, eigth Steuri, ninth Verhoef and tenth Coma. Top Brit Michael Extance has dropped one more place, elaving him in a creditable 23rd overall. Derrcik Edmondson is maintaining 59th place, ahead of BMW’s Nick Plumb. Patsy Quick is in 115th, with Noble in 157th.

Spaniard Garcia Mochales fell on day four, and was air-lifted to hospital with a suspected double-arm fracture.

Day Four: The riders will cover 463km in total today, travelling from the port of Tunis to the oasis town of Tozeur. Their first day in Africa begins with a special stage which moves from steep, twisty tracks to wide, open valleys, acclimatising them for the vast open spaces ahead.

At the start of the day, the standings are: 1. Despres 2. Verhoef 3. Coma 4. Sala. 5. Cox. 6. Sainct. 7. Aubijoux. 8. Flick. 9. Roma. 10. Duclos. Top British rider is still Michael Extance, but he dropped some places on day three, leaving him in 22nd overall. Edmondson has improved massively from a fairly safe day 1, leaving him second Brit in 59th, ahead of Quick in 108th, Plumb in 127th and Noble in 152nd.

Day Three: The riders will cover 95km today, travelling from Castellon to Valencia, including an 8km special stage around Castellon, finishing on the beach. More news as it arrives.

Day Two: Frenchman Richard Sainct now leads the Dakar at the end of day two, completing the 43km special stage 15 seconds ahead of fellow KTM rider Alfie Cox. Third is day one leader Cyril Despres. Leading non-KTM rider is David Casteu in eighth on a Honda. Michael Extance is still holding onto a creditable 16th place on the Honda XR650.

The British-based Dome BMW team of Australian Simon Pavey and British rookie Nick Plumb are in high spirits. Speaking after completing day one, and looking forward to arrival in Africa, Plumb revealed both riders were taking it steady on the first day. Despite that, " we nearly both came off when three pigs ran out in the road on our way down to Narbonne. It was very close and could have been an embarrassing early exit for us, but fortunately Simon and I managed to swerve around them."

Day One: Whilst most people are staggering back to work after New Year’s excesses, on the other side of the world six British riders have completed the first day of the world’s toughest race.

The 2003 Dakar Rally began on New Year’s Day, and finished with Michael Extance on a Honda as top Brit, in 16th place. The first ever British woman to compete, Patsy Quick, also had a good day, finishing in 84th, ahead of fellow Brit and Dakar rookie Nick Plumb on a BMW. Neville Murry is in 110th, Derrick Edmondson is in 124th on a KTM and Laurence Noble is in 161.

There were no retirements on the first day, a 265km stretch from Mareille to Narbonne. The rally is led overall by Frenchman Cyril Despres, one second ahead of Spaniard Joan Roma. Cyril Raynal is third, Pal Anders Ullevalseter is fourth and Giovani Sala fifth. All of the top twenty are on KTM machines, with the lone exception of Michael Extance, top Brit, and top non-KTM in 16th.

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