REPSOL RIDERS AND DRIVERS KEEP THE LEAD IN CHILE
Marc Coma is still leading in the motorbike class with a comfortable advantage. In the car class, Nani Roma suffered a clutch breakdown that leaves him off the fight for the victory with Luc Alphand
Leg 7: Copiapo - Copiapo (Chile)
Special: 180 km -- Liaison: 0.30 km - Total : 183 km
The seventh leg of the Patagonia Atacama Raid was staged today and Repsol riders and drivers are still in the lead of the overall standings. In motorbikes, Marc Coma showed himself very secure in Chile as well and keeps the leadership of the class. Jordi Viladoms is still in the race despite the mechanical problems he has been suffering for the last two days and the heavy crash of yesterday. In the car class, the exciting fight for the first place between Luc Alphand and Nani Roma experienced today a major change due to Roma's problems with the car. The clutch broke down in a dune area making him loose almost one hour and although his second place is not in danger, with two days left for the end of the rally, Roma believes that it is going to be impossible to be back in the fight for the victory.
Today's stage, initially intended to be 236.7 km long, was shortened to 180 km because the rally is being extremely hard for all participants, especially for amateurs, who are physically extremely tired. With this decision, the organisation gives a break to riders, drivers and machines, allowing them to get back strength to face tomorrow's leg which is a very long one (675 km special).
The longest leg of the rally will be staged tomorrow, with a 675 km special. Participants will face a fast stage on tracks. They will find a sandy area and then some dunes to move on following fast tracks heading north. They all expect tomorrow's stage to be a fast stage with some complications.
Marc Coma: "Today has been a short stage, 180 km. It was supposed to have 240 km but the organisation decided to make it shorter. It's been an amusing stage on dunes. Fortunately we were able to pass them well; they were soft but not difficult to ride on. Navigation wasn't too complicated, we found everything quite good. There were several GPS points and that made things easier. Today has been the day I have enjoyed rally most; this short stage has been real fun."
Jordi Viladoms: "A calm and amusing stage. There were several dunes and a lot of GPS points; it's been fun and it helped us to relax a bit. That's been good, because now we can face tomorrows special in better conditions."
Nani Roma: "It's a shame. The clutch broke down in the dune area and we had to fix the problem right there. With two days to go I don't think there's much left to do, we missed the victory and my team mate Luc will get it. Well, you learn out of everything and today we learned how to change a clutch in the middle of a special."