BMW X-raid stage 14 report

X-RAID'S PETERHANSEL AND CHICHERIT CONFIRM FOURTH AND FIFTH-PLACED DAKAR FINISHES FOR TEAM X-RAID GMBH * X-raid duo finish third and fourth on final stage into Buenos Aires * X-raid's Novitskiy and Schulz finish 11th overall in third BMW X3 CC *...

X-RAID'S PETERHANSEL AND CHICHERIT CONFIRM FOURTH AND FIFTH-PLACED DAKAR FINISHES FOR TEAM X-RAID GMBH

* X-raid duo finish third and fourth on final stage into Buenos Aires
* X-raid's Novitskiy and Schulz finish 11th overall in third BMW X3 CC
* Spaniard Carlos Sainz clinches his first Dakar Rally title

BUENOS AIRES (Argentina): Team X-raid GmbH's Stephane Peterhansel and Guerlain Chicherit shadowed Carlos Sainz and Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah to the finish of 14th and final stage of the 2010 Dakar Rally between Santa Rosa de la Pampa and Buenos Aires in Argentina on Saturday.

The result meant that Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret -- who finished the last stage in fourth - confirmed fourth in the overall standings and Chicherit and Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner finished in fifth overall after setting the third quickest time in the second BMW X3 CC.

"It was a hard and very enjoyable Dakar for me, Jean-Paul and the team," said Peterhansel. "I led the way at the start today and pushed a little, but not too hard, because I knew that Nasser (Al-Attiyah) was behind. Except for the problems on the fifth day it has been a great success for us. We claimed four stage wins. That one problem cost us at least a podium and maybe something even better. Now we can go away and look ahead to the next time with optimism."

Chicherit, the reigning FIA World Cross-Country champion, was a little disappointed with fifth, but pleased with the progress he had made nonetheless: "I suppose we came here looking for a little more than fourth and fifth, but it was still a very good result for us. I had the big loss of time early on and it was a case of fighting back after that. There are many positives we can take away from the last two weeks and we need to make sure that we learn from the experience."

Russia's Leonid Novitskiy and German co-driver Andreas Schulz confirmed 11th overall by setting the 11th fastest time on the final stage.

Spain's Carlos Sainz began the final stage with a 2m 48s overall advantage over Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah. He lost out to the flying Qatari for the stage win, but managed to stay out of trouble to record the second fastest time and a first victory on the Dakar Rally by a margin of 2m 12s.

Al-Attiyah managed to tie Peterhansel on four stage wins apiece during the course of the 14-day rally. The outcome also meant that the BMW X-raid team finished the Dakar with six stage wins compared to seven for rivals Volkswagen and one for American Robbie Gordon.

"Neither of our lead drivers were going to take any risks today, but we also agreed not to block the other two leading cars on the stage," said X-raid team director Sven Quandt. "It has been an exciting and enjoyable Dakar and we have shown each day that we now have a very competitive package with the BMW X3 CC that is capable of winning the event in the future."

Only 57 cars took to the start line of the final 206km special stage this morning and the X-raid Team were chasing a superb seventh stage win of the Dakar campaign. Event officials likened the special to a high-speed sprint across the piste to a finish at the village of San Carlos de Bolivar.

Peterhansel and Chicherit started the special in first and third places on the road, with Al-Attiyah sandwiched between them in second position and overall rally leader Sainz in fourth. Not only was the outcome of the event at stake over the closing kilometres, but the X-raid duo also wanted to end the campaign with a seventh stage win for the Trebur-based team.

Chicherit and Peterhansel trailed Al-Attiyah and Sainz by a handful of seconds through the 66km and 121km points, as the Qatari and the Spaniard battled hard for overall victory. There was no change through 177km either, as Chicherit trailed the Qatari by 31 seconds. Peterhansel was 22s further adrift and Novitskiy was running in a virtual 10th position. There were no dramas over the closing kilometres and the X-raid duo recorded the third and fourth fastest times.

Tomorrow (Sunday) marks the ceremonial finish of the 2010 Dakar Rally at La Rural convention centre in Buenos Aires. An estimated 700,000 people flocked to the streets of the Argentine capital last season to welcome the finishers -- such is the popularity of the event in South America.

-source: x-raid

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Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Andreas Schulz , Stéphane Peterhansel , Jean-Paul Cottret , Tina Thorner , Guerlain Chicherit