Dutch success in the Tunisia Desert Challenge on Wednesday with wins by Eimbert Timmermans and Martin van den Brink . They won the tough stage that brought the participants to Douz. With about eighty kilometers of dunes on the menu, it was quite an ordeal for the participants and many of them did not arrive at the bivouac before nightfall. The fifth stage stirred the standings good, something that was already announced in advance.
Mario Patrao took his third stage win of the week. It took the Portuguese just over five hours to complete the long stage set out by organizer Gert Duson. He was about 33 minutes faster than Tomas de Gavardo. Dominique Robin finished third, but crashed shortly before the finish. The French routinier still got on to cover the last meters, but was looked after by the medical crew after the finish. It is unclear whether he will continue his way in this rally. Duong Nguyen Khoa finished fourth while Gwen Backx rounded out the top-five. Backx finished more than an hour and a half from Patrao and lost the lead in the race as a result. Backx was not surprised that he lost time: “It was a very tough day, we suffered a lot. In the first part of the dunes I had to pull myself free twenty times and try in all directions to get to the top of a dune. I lost a lot of energy to get there. The first seventy kilometers it was very rough, after that I got through it a bit. We had to go deep, but it was still a nice day.”
In the SSV category, the margins were unusually large. Martin van den Brink was king for a day with a lead of no less than thirty minutes. De Harskamper was able to use his expertise in the dunes and did a very good job in the standings. He now has a lead of more than an hour on Jasper Versteijnen, who again achieved a solid fourth place on Wednesday. The podium in the category was completed by Davy Huguet and Richard Doux. Stephane Zosso finished fifth after more than an hour, just behind Versteijnen.
The differences were quite significant, but one team stood out. Jean Pascal Besson needed an hour and a half less to complete the test, not at all surprising. With the Kingroad buggy he was able to get on very well in the loose sand. The Frenchman took the victory and the lead in the standings even tighter, behind that it was also very interesting. Ronald Schoolderman had another good day, finishing in second place ahead of Agostino Rizzardi. Philippe Lambilliotte finished in fourth place in the Henrard car with Vincent Thijs in fifth place. There was bad luck for Erwin Imschoot. The Flemish veteran fell silent with technical problems and had to come out of the test with the sweeper. trucks
The hard work of Karoly Fazekas of the past few days was canceled on Wednesday. The Hungarian Scania driver lost almost two hours in the dunes and thus also relinquished the lead in the race. Eimbert Timmermans benefited with the stage win. The Mercedes driver won almost an hour over his nearest competitor and, despite a penalty earlier in the week, has a lead of more than an hour over Paul Verheyden. Giovanotti's Italian team spends the night in the desert.
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