REPSOL'S MARC COMA AND LUC ALPHAND LEAD THE PATAGONIA ATACAMA RAID IN ARGENTINA

Marc Coma leads the motorbike race on his KTM and Luc Alphand is the leader of the car class in his Mitsubishi

The second leg of the Patagonia-Atacama Raid was staged yesterday (Thursday), taking participants from Neuquen to San Rafael in Argentina, covering a total of 799.4 kilometres (653 timed), and being the largest leg of the first round of the Raid World Championship. The first bike started from the bivouac at 6.00 a.m. to take the start of the special 63 kilometres later. Yesterday's leg was the largest leg of the raid, leading through arid areas with little vegetation.

In the motorbike class, Marc Coma's leg victory achieved yesterday strengthens his lead in the overall standings, with an advantage of 25'52 minutes over the second classified, Frenchman David Casteu, and 31'31 minutes over the third, team mate Jordi Viladoms.

In the car class, victory for Luc Alphand and leadership in the overall standings, ahead of team mate Nani Roma, who is second, 2'20" behind the French driver. Roma's little fright of yesterday -- a light overturn -- didn't hinder him from finishing second and staying very close to his team mate and overall leader, Luc Alphand, recently crowned winner of the 2006 Lisbon-Dakar Rally.

Today, drivers and riders will face a much more accessible leg, however having to overcome dunes in the first 40 km, an area where they will find the biggest difficulties of the day. The special stage will start on a broken, stony road where they will have to be very careful with navigation. Then it will become faster until they reach the dune area. Finally they will find some vegetation, similar to the well-known "camel grass".

Marc Coma: "It's been a long leg, with more than 700 kms and a special stage where we have found all kinds of terrain. I've been riding all by myself all day and I didn't have any problem, everything went well. We made a small navigation mistake, but it was nothing serious. Things are going well and my rivals have lost more than 25 minutes today. I'm very happy for my team mate Jordi Viladoms, who made a great leg today. I feel physically much better than expected after the Dakar, I'm still in shape and I'm not suffering too much."

Jordi Viladoms: "It's been a very hard stage because it's been too long, with a technical route and a lot of navigation. It's been good; we followed the road book literally, although we made a small mistake. However, I'm happy, the question is that we've covered a lot of kilometres and gained experience."

Nani Roma: "I'm OK, we were lucky to be able to continue after yesterdays overturn. It was really a big fright, it went really fast, but I finally was even able to finish second. The stage was long and complicated. I'm one minute behind Luc in the overall standings and I'll try to recover the distance, which is not much. But above all I'll try to avoid any risk, because the most important is that both cars get to the finish and continue gaining experience." <pre> Leg results

Motorbikes: 1. Marc Coma 6:58'21'' 2. Jordi Viladoms + 23'43'' 3. David Casteu + 25'23'' 4. Orly Terranova + 52'25'' 5. Francisco Lopez + 1:02'36''

Cars 1. Luc Alphand-Gilles Picard 6:51'21'' 2. Joan Roma-Henri Magne + 2'20'' 3. Guilherme Spinelli-Marcelo Vivolo + 49'54'' 4. Mauricio Neves-Clecio Maestrelli + 1:22'32'' 5. Ivar Tollefsen-Quin Evans + 2:02'35''

Overall standings

Motorbikes: 1. Marc Coma 9:24'01'' 2. David Casteu + 25'52'' 3. Jordi Viladoms + 31'31'' 4. Francisco Lopez + 1:17'12'' 5. Orly Terranova + 1:20'59''

Cars 1. Luc Alphand-Gilles Picard 9:28'46'' 2. Joan Roma-Henri Magne + 1'24'' 3. Guilherme Spinelli-Marcelo Vivolo + 50'02'' 4. Mauricio Neves-Clecio Maestrelli + 1:18'49'' 5. Ivar Tollefsen-Quin Evans + 2:19'45''

-repsol-