Leg 2: Moreeb - Moreeb
Liaison 54.85 km, Special 304.50 km, Liaison 92.47 km. Total 451.82 km
Weather conditions: hot and sunny - 31-34º C
LEADERSHIP FOR LUC ALPHAND IN THE CAR CLASS AND MARC COMA IN MOTORBIKES IN DUBAI
Victory for Luc Alphand in the car class and Jordi Viladoms in the motorbike class today. Marc Coma is third fastest and keeps the leadership.
Repsol driver Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard set the fastest time and surged into the overall lead in the UAE Desert Challenge after the second desert selective section, a 304 km loop stages around the Moreeb Hill bivouac, today. They had begun the day 3m 28s behind overnight leader Carlos Sainz, but finished the leg 14m 25s ahead of nearest rival Jean-Louis Schlesser in the unofficial results after a dramatic day's action in the towering sand dunes and treacherous soft sands which are a feature of the UAE's Rub Al-Khali region.
Team mates Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret set the second fastest time in the new MPR13 version of the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution and leapt into fifth place overall. Alphand had made a large hole in the Spaniard's overnight advantage at the first passage control and he headed into the second section of the stage a full 2m 03s ahead of his arch rival. For the following two passage controls the contest developed into a game of cat and mouse, with Alphand reaching PC3 a mere three seconds ahead of Sainz, after passing him before PC1. Sainz eventually stopped with mechanical problems and Alphand reached the finish unchallenged.
Peterhansel and Cottret benefited from a fully-repaired MPR13 to restart from ninth place in the overall standings. They were quickly into a competitive pace and were fourth fastest through the opening PC, the defending UAE Desert Challenge champion sandwiched between Sainz and Finnish legend Ari Vatanen. Peterhansel speeded up still further through the middle of the stage and was running second quickest at PC3 and maintained his position to the finish.
After opening day navigational delays Masuoka and Maimon were quickly back into a competitive pace in the second MPR12 version of the Pajero/Montero Evolution. They were seventh at PC1 and up to sixth at PC3, but the crew stopped around five kilometres from the end of the stage with clutch problems in the soft sand and were forced to make emergency repairs.
It was another positive day for the riders of the Repsol KTM team in the motorbike class who finished the stage again in the leading positions, keeping the lead in the overall standings as well. Marc Coma, who started first this morning after yesterday's stage victory, lost time on the three riders who were following him, Cyril Despres, Isidre Esteve and team mate Jordi Viladoms, who finally took the stage victory today. Coma, who was opening the road was quickly caught in the dune area by Despres and Viladoms, who joined him during the rest of the special. Esteve, despite closing the gap to the leading group, was not able to catch them. After this second day, with a large presence of dunes, Marc Coma keeps the leadership in the overall standings and team mate Jordi Viladoms is third.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) teams tackle the third of five legs and the second loop stage around Moreeb. The 262.45 km timed section includes four passage controls and starts six kilometers from the Moreeb bivouac aside the newly-surfaced Liwa road and finishes on a gatch track to the west of Arada, 54.25 km from the bivouac.
Luc Alphand: "It was not easy to open the stage and keep to a good pace once we passed Carlos. But it turned out very well at the end."
Stéphane Peterhansel: "Much better today. We had no problems with the car at all. It was not easy to keep to a good rhythm this morning, because the dunes were broken and it was a little dangerous to push. I tried to keep to the same pace. It will be difficult to catch Jean-Louis. I saw his dust today, but it was not possible to close the gap. The feeling and the balance of the new car is very good, but it is easy to make a mistake here."
Hiroshi Masuoka: "We had to change the clutch in the stage. It cost us well over an hour."
Marc Coma: "It's been a complicated stage, with a lot of dunes and heat, so we've had some work to do. But well, we're doing well so far. Tomorrow will be another complicated day so let's hope that things keep on working out fine. Today, since I started first, the others caught me quickly and be rode in a group with Jordi Viladoms and other riders. Therefore we worked together until the end, while Isidre Esteve closed the gap a bit fut did not manage to get us."
Jordi Viladoms: "I'm happy because we managed to win the stage, although it's been muche asier starting from third, because Marc had to do all the job. But, well I had the change and I made the most of it. Let's hope that things keep on working out well."