CHICHERIT FLIES THE X-RAID FLAG ON COPIAPO LOOP STAGE WITH FOURTH FASTEST TIME * X-raid's Orlando Terranova crashes out of Dakar Rally * Kuipers retains top eight place; Novitskiy finishes test in seventh * Weather forces cancellation of 11th ...
CHICHERIT FLIES THE X-RAID FLAG ON COPIAPO LOOP STAGE WITH FOURTH FASTEST TIME
* X-raid's Orlando Terranova crashes out of Dakar Rally
* Kuipers retains top eight place; Novitskiy finishes test in seventh
* Weather forces cancellation of 11th special stage to Fiambala
OPIAPO (Chile): X-raid's Sails Capital Racing Team endured mixed fortunes on the shortened 10th Copiapo loop stage of the 2009 Dakar Rally on Tuesday.
Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit began a charge through the field from a starting position of 29th in his BMW X3 CC and eventually finished the stage in fourth position, despite rolling gently in the sand dunes near the stage finish.
Argentina's Orlando Terranova led early on, but lost the potential stage win and his place in the rally before the third checkpoint when he rolled his car off the side of the stage into a small ravine and all the weight of the impact was concentrated on one small corner of the BMW X3 CC's roof. Terranova and co-driver Alain Guehennec were transported uninjured to a nearby passage control by a race helicopter.
"Orly was very unfortunate this morning to land on the corner of the roof and have all that weight concentrated in a small area of the car," said team director Sven Quandt. "I saw the damage and told him there was no way he could continue. 'Chich' drove very well and had a good pace, but he was also unfortunate that there were too many people in the dunes, they blocked the way and he had a small roll."
Carlos Sainz (Spain) continued to head team mate Mark Miller (USA) by 27m 31s in the overall standings after setting the quickest time of the day.
"We were by a river, following a bike to the top of a small hill when he stopped at the top," said Terranova. "To avoid a small collision I swerved to the right and there was a four-metre drop off the side. We fell into the hole, nose first and hit some hard rocks at the bottom.
"The accident completely damaged the front corner of my car. It was not possible to continue, because the roof area around my helmet was completely flattened and I could not carry on. It was a stupid, stupid thing and I am very disappointed."
"We reached a small hill following the tracks of a bike," added Guehennec. "We turned to the right and fell into this hole about four metres down and landed on the roof. It was not possible to carry on."
Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and Matthieu Baumel only lost one place in the overall standings after their problems on the ninth stage and restarted in 16th overall. They had finished the special in 29th place and were classified sixth at the first PC this morning, fifth at PC3 and up to fourth at PC4 and the finish following Terranova's retirement.
"It was a good stage for us, but we started 29th this morning and it was so difficult to pass the other cars," said Chicherit. "We stayed around 40km behind one and that cost us a lot of time.
"Then, just before the end of the stage, we rolled gently in the dunes because there were a lot of people there. Some people were waving at me and I thought that there must be an accident over the crest and I tried to turn the steering, locked the wheels and we flipped over and back on the wheels and then we got stuck."
Dutchman Rene Kuipers and Portuguese co-driver Filipe Palmeiro began the day in a superb ninth overall and were 16th through PCs one and two, before climbing to 14th at PC4 and slipping to 15th at PC5.
X-raid Russia's Leonid Novitskiy and Oleg Tyupenkin began the day in 14th overall and sixth on the road, but were delayed in the sand before the first passage control and lost 10 minutes. The Russian held seventh through PC4, ninth at PC5 and negotiated the final dunes to seal the seventh fastest time.
The ASO permitted 312 teams to take part in today's loop stage, with 142 bikes and quads, 109 cars and 61 trucks given permission to restart.
Low-lying cloud and a sea mist again forced a delay to the start of the timed section, which had been reduced from 670km to 476km the previous evening, on the grounds that some of the cancelled terrain was not challenging and the ASO preferred teams to have more time to tackle the tricky dunes on what should have been the longest stage of the rally.
But the fog actually persisted, meaning that the safety helicopters could not take off, and ASO officials were forced to delay the start of the stage by a total of 2h 40m.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the 10th leg of the 2009 Dakar rally and marks the return to Argentina across the mighty Andes mountain range. Event organisers had warned that the emphasis would be on accurate navigation, as a 20km liaison took teams into a 215km special stage, finishing just after the village of Carrera Pinto. But adverse weather conditions forced the cancellation of the stage on Tuesday evening.
Service trucks and assistance vehicles will reach 4,250 metres above sea level, before crossing the border at around 4,160 metres and head on towards the following night halt at La Rioja.
Competitors, meanwhile, will preceed from the cancelled stage and experience a 445km liaison section to their overnight halt at the spa town of Fiambala, which is the first and only Marathon-type stage on this year's Dakar. The passage will cross the Col San Francisco at an altitude of around 4,700 meters.
The liaison route climbs over winding tracks through the Claudio Gay mountain range and heads towards Hosteria Murray before reaching Las Grutas and descending through Cortaderos and Chaschuil to Fiambala, which is in the Catamarca province and is situated 1,520 metres above sea level.