Differences remain small on the first long day of Tunisia Desert Challenge

The first long stage of the Tunisia Desert Challenge did not cause extremely large differences on Sunday. In just about every class, the participants were very evenly matched.

This was mainly due to the fast character of the 300-kilometer test, which took the participants to Ksar Ghilane. For the first part, this consisted of lightning-fast paths where drivers could generally drive at full speed. In the second half of the test, the navigators were put to the test with some more sand passages and small dunes.


In the motorcycle category, the victory in the prologue went to Gwen Backx, so he was allowed to open the ball on Sunday. As a result, the Fleming lost some time and former factory driver Mario Patrao surfaced. The Portuguese driver took just over four hours to complete the test. At the finish he clocked the same time as Joris Van Dyck, but he was classified second. Duong Nguyen Khoa finished in third place while Backx had to settle for fourth place. Dominique Robin completed the top five.

Cars & Buggies

After a tentative start, Pedro de Uriarte and navigator Olivier Imschoot found their niche on the second day. The Mexican clocked the fastest time in the stage over 300 kilometers. At the finish he was exactly five minutes faster than Jean Pascal Besson. Ronald Schoolderman had another promising day with the new car of Team 4x4 Centrum Ermelo. Schoolderman finished third, nine minutes behind De Uriarte. Vincent Thijs was fourth while Agostino Rizzardi completed the top five. “We already had a small suspicion that we had done well today”, said day winner Olivier Imschoot. “At the end there was really no one to be seen in the entire field. Not a car driving ahead of us. It went surprisingly smoothly. Everything was right today. Gert [Duson, organizer] let all participants know yesterday that the devil was in the tail. And I wonder when the venom came. I was preparing for it to get a little tougher. But luckily it worked out. You had to stay awake and alert, but it was all mentioned in the road book. Occasionally we had to slalom to avoid the camel grass, which will damage your car so quickly. But that worked out very well.”


In the SSV class there was Dutch success for Monny Krant and the difference was not small. At the finish, Krant's lead with navigator Rudolf Meijer was almost two minutes. Raoul Schmid finished second after a strong day, ahead of Stephane Zosso. Zosso had won the prologue on Saturday, but gave more than seven minutes to day winner Krant. Richard Doux finished in fourth place, narrowly ahead of Martin van den Brink. The man from Harskamp usually drives his rallies on a truck, but can also get along well with the SSV. Still, things have not gone smoothly for Van den Brink, who is again working with Lisette Bakker. “Well, we did have some technical issues, especially with the drive shaft. Yesterday we had the same problem in the prologue. Last night they checked the differential completely, couldn't find anything special but still mounted a new thru-axle, but today after about 40 kilometers I heard that we had another problem! And we also had a flat tire, so no more spare tire and no front drive, so.”


With the trucks, the differences were also very small. Eimbert Timmermans did not have a flawless day, he noticed at one point that the engine of his car was not running perfectly. Nevertheless, the veteran managed to clock the fastest time, although the difference with Peter van Delm was only 26 seconds. Paolo Calabria from Italy came in third.

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