Despres, Roma say Dakar victory chances not over
Peugeot's Cyril Despres and Toyota's Nani Roma reckon they can still take part in the Dakar 2017 victory fight, despite losing the opportunity to make up ground in the highly-anticipated “Super Belen” stage.
Wednesday's “Super Belen” from Salta to Chilecito was to feature 406 timed kilometres, with most of the route off-road and requiring difficult navigation.
But as the stage was cancelled due to logistical issues created by a rockslide on the road to Salta, Despres and Roma lost a major chance to catch up with rally leaders Sebastien Loeb and Stephane Peterhansel.
Despite that, both men insist they remain in with a chance.
Roma, who lost precious time on Tuesday to a technical issue and now sits 24 minutes off rally Loeb, admitted the Super Belen was a good opportunity, but insisted “the race is not finished”.
“Sure, I believe [there is a chance] - if not, I don't continue. I try to do my best every day, some days it works well, some days not, but we try,” the Spaniard told Motorsport.com.
"In these conditions, in the down [altitude] we are better than these last days - but we need to accept that the conditions are really tough, really hard and we accept [the stage cancellation].
“The race is not finished, you know. The race continues tough, continues hard. The next day, tomorrow, it's a hard day.”
Despres, who is 17 minutes behind Loeb, said: “We arrive to complicated places, we're a little bit more in the desert now – and there's so many places, so many holes and so many riverbeds, some dunes, some vegetation.
“There's a lot of places to get some time but also to lose time. It's not over.”
Asked whether he'd race cautious over the remaining days to ensure a podium regardless of his victory chances, Despres said: “I will keep in the same rhythm because there is still Nani Roma not far from me - I will keep going in a good rhythm, this is what I have to do.”
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