COMA, WINS THE LEG AND IS ONE STEP FROM THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Repsol rider is still second before the last leg to be staged tomorrow. Duran was third. In the car class, Peterhansel and Roma finished first and second respectively
Positive day for the interests of the Repsol riders at the UAE Desert Challenge in Dubai, last scoring round of the Raid World Championship. Stephane Peterhansel and Marc Coma were the winners of the penultimate leg, while their team-mates Nani Roma and Jordi Duran were second and third respectively. The fifth special covering 290.65 kms and arriving in Moreeb began over sand tracks and sabkhas and crossed several high ridges. The subsequent route crossed a section with tricky navigation and a series of deceptive dunes with sand holes to a fast finish across open desert. The arrival time control was situated at the same point as Wednesday's opening selective.
In the car class, Mitsubishi Motors Repsol driver Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret, were the winners of the fourth leg of the Rally Dubai, ahead of their team-mate Nani Roma, who finished second, nine minutes behind. Peterhansel covered the special without any trouble and only bad luck could hinder him from taking tomorrow his third victory of the Arab Emirate's Rally. The French duo started with an advantage of 1h. 49 min. and 31 sec. in the overall standings over Jose Luis Monterde, and managed to extend the advantage to 2h. 31 min. and 08 sec. today. Also Repsol driver Nani Roma had recovered sufficiently from his health problems to take the start of today's stage. He was classified 21st in the overall classification after incurring a catalogue of time penalties. Starting from 10th on the road this morning, the brave Spanish driver Roma attacked from the outset, passing several cars on his way to the second fastest time of the day.
With today's victory, Marc Coma keeps the second place in the overall standings, although he managed to improve two minutes over the leader Cyril Despres. The Repsol KTM rider took the start in second position and quickly caught Desprès. The French made a navigation mistake but they finally crossed the finish line together. Marc Coma's aim is the World Raid Championship, something he can achieve after tomorrow's last leg. His team-mate Jordi Duran covered almost the whole leg in solitary, until he managed to catch Casteu and Ullevalseter 80 kms before the finish. Close to the finish and given the fast pace they were having, Casteu crashed and due to the spectacular crash, Duran decided to stop to help him. Confirming that the rider was OK Duran moved on crossing the finish line with the third fastest clock of the day.
Tomorrow is the final day of this year's UAE Desert Challenge, with teams tackling two selective sections between Moreeb and the finish Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) in Dubai. The opening 122.45 section begins at Haleeba and the second starts at Khatam after a 103.85 kms road liaison section. A short 37.50 kms link will take teams to the finish at Mina Seyahi.
Stephane Peterhansel: "Today was a lot easier than yesterday. It was a nice stage. The route was often across a chott, on a sandy track and in the dunes. It is never easy to read the track and now I must be careful on the final day. Of course something could happen, but I must be cautious and make sure that I reach the finish tomorrow. I have had some bad luck this year, but I will not be thinking about that at all. Sometimes in the past it has not been easy to get the suspension settings right for Dubai, but everything has been fine this year. The car has been perfect. I am very happy"
Nani Roma: "It was a good day for me. After missing two days and spending the mornings in the medical tent and the afternoons in the hotel, it was great to carry out some training for the Dakar. There were a lot of dunes, plenty of soft sand and all good experience. I had to stop on one occasion, because my belts were too tight, but it was a really positive day and I feel much better."
Marc Coma: "The result has been very good but this has been the most boring leg of the raid. I started from second and quickly caught Desprès. He made a navigation mistake and I managed to open a small gap, but then he caught me back and we crossed the finish line together. It's been a beautiful leg, but the pace wasn't very fast. I didn't want to neither take any risks nor to make navigation mistakes and so it was. My aim is the title and scoring the necessary points to make it, not the victory of the rally. Tomorrow won't be easy either, we have to be very focussed and, if we have no problems, we'll be able to achieve our aim."
Jordi Duran: "I'm very happy with the third place, because it proves that I'm doing a good rally. I've been riding alone almost all day until I caught Ullevalseter and Casteu. Then David crashed and I stopped to help him, but when I saw that he was OK I continued. This is being a nice rally and very different to the one in Egypt. This is a bit more technical and that's why I'm more satisfied with what I'm doing. Tomorrow my work will be being as close as possible to Marc, just in case he needs me. We have a good job and there should be no problem for Marc to become Champion."
Jordi Arcarons: "Both riders have done a great job today. Marc won without taking any risk and Jordi is improving day by day, as well as being close to Marc just in case he should need him. Tomorrow will be quite a large stage, because with the two specials and the liaisons, the riders will have to cover a lot of kilometres. The aim is the Championship and we are doing what we had to do: a good job and avoid mistakes. Let's hope that we won't have any problem tomorrow and that Marc is finally able to clinch the title he deserves so much."