The ninth stage between Oueni and the oasis of Ksar Ghilane saw victory in the bike class go to the Spaniard Marc Coma ahead of his principle rival Cyril Despres. The Frenchman conceded 4 minutes today but holds onto the overall lead two stages from the end. Third today, the Chilean Francisco Lopez firms up his third place overall. An excellent day for Olivier Pain who wins his third consecutive stage and retakes the overall 450 class lead from Bruno Da Costa who ran into mechanical problems. Lionel Laine continues his unbroken record with a ninth win in the quad category. In the cars the BMW X3s take the first three places with Leonid Novitskiy finishing ahead of Guerlain Chicherit and Orlando Terranova. Overall the Argentinan ‘controls’ Christian Lavieille, still second, while the Russian comes back to within 8’30 of the Frenchman. In the two-wheel drive category Pascal Thomasse still leads Jean-Louis Schlesser, while in T2 Artem Varentsov is virtually assured of victory. In T4 Alain Coquelle posts another victory.

To get to the oasis of Ksar Ghilane, haven of peace in the heart of the palm groves, the competitors on the 27th Rallye OiLibya de Tunisie tackled a challenging 275 km special. Sandy pistes, jumps, stones, for certain bike riders the second half of the route resembled a mini enduro. In the cars the many jumps threw around the co-drivers. On two wheels Marc Coma wins ahead of Cyril Despres who is nevertheless still 5 minutes ahead of his principle rival. It will be very close between the two men and two stages from the end anything could happen. A little way behind them the Chilean Chaleco Lopez is simply trying to keep Jordi Viladoms at bay. Here also the gap is relatively slim and the third place on the podium far from a foregone conclusion. In the 450 class Olivier Pain has succeeded in getting back into the lead ahead of Bruno Da Costa who lost a good 30 minutes with chain problems. Luca Manca also had mechanical woes and losses more than 1 hour. A nice surprise for Christian Califano, who was met by his ‘teacher’ Cyril Despres, who turned back to evaluate his pupils progress. First Tunisian today Hassen Jemili enjoyed himself over the varied going. In the quad class Lionel Laine once again dominated, this time beating the Russian Vladimir Marugov into second place.

In the cars the BMWs took the first three places ahead of Nicolas Misslin and Christian Lavieille. Out of luck again, the winner on this stage last year, Eric Vigouroux was forced to stop for 30 minutes to repair his alternator. A big disappointment for the Frenchman who’s Trophy Truck could have been made for this stage. Jean Louis Schlesser also ran into problems with his inflation system costing the Frenchman considerable time.

In the Widlcat Trophy Jerome Pelichet holds onto his first place, once again posting the fastest time. In the trucks Alain Coquelle also takes another class victory.

In parallel with the race, competitor Gaetan Ge was delighted to get to Ksar Ghilane to visit the herd of goats, sheep and camels that he and his friends bought and then handed over to Moktar Ben Omani. Thanks to this investment the tradition of farming has been maintained in the oasis.

Tomorrow direction Tozeur… announced as one of the hardest stages of the rally, the final result is far from decided. On the menu: navigation, dune crossings, pistes cut by sand tongues, chotts, undulations and a finish at the famous Star Wars set.

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