Dakar: Mitsubishi stage nine report

MITSUBISHI MAINTAIN ONE-TWO AS PETERHANSEL SETS NEW STAGE VICTORY RECORD The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team today maintained its hold on the top two positions in the Dakar Rally as the event began its second week. Stéphane Peterhansel and ...

MITSUBISHI MAINTAIN ONE-TWO AS PETERHANSEL SETS NEW STAGE VICTORY RECORD

The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team today maintained its hold on the top two positions in the Dakar Rally as the event began its second week. Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret now have a nine minute 16 second lead over team-mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard. Peterhansel is now almost an hour ahead of his nearest non-Mitsubishi rival while fellow Pajero / Montero Evolution crew Joan 'Nani' Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne lie fourth.

The 599 kilometer special stage, which formed part of the 874 kilometer leg from Nouakchott to Kiffa, crossed one of the remotest parts of the Western Sahara to Tamassoumit, before heading south towards the finish near Letfata in the Tagant region. The section was very varied in character, tricky dunes alternating with high speed sections.

Peterhansel's stage victory today, his third of the event and 51st in the Dakar, has now broken the record held by legendary Finn Ari Vatanen, but will have given the Frenchman little joy with the news of the death of the Australian motorcycle rider, Andy Caldecott.

Peterhansel stopped to change a puncture at the 315 kilometer mark and arrived at the third and final passage control with his advantage over team-mate Alphand pegged back to three minutes and 38 seconds. The defending champion eventually clinched his third stage win of the event to extend his advantage in the overall standings.

Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys said: "Our position is becoming more comfortable, although you never know in Africa what is around the next corner and we must keep our concentration and make no mistakes. But, for sure, Stéphane and Luc both did a very good job today."

Tomorrow's stage from Kiffa to Kayes is one of the shortest of the event. Starting almost immediately from the bivouac, the competitors will face a 283 kilometer special stage which will take them out of the Sahara and into the twisty dirt tracks of the Sahel. Potholes, ruts and vegetation will all add to the challenge, and mid-stage the rally passes into Mali before the short 49 kilometer asphalt liaison to the bivouac in Kayes.

Mitsubishi's Chinese team hits problems as Thai driver excluded

Chinese driver Guan Yuan Men and French co-driver Serge Henninot started today's stage strongly but they were quickly in trouble in the early part of the special stage, reported to be stopped 107 kilometers from the start with suspected mechanical problems.

Thailand's Mana Pornsiriched and French co-driver Jean Brucy were extremely disappointed to learn that, despite arriving in Nouakchott having set the 16th fastest time in Saturday's section, they were excluded. They had missed two passage controls in their Ralliart-prepared Mitsubishi Racing Triton Evolution on the previous leg after clutch problems.

"It is a very disappointing situation for us to be in," said on-event Team Manager Sujit Angella Das. "But we appreciate that the organisers have rules and we must stand by their decision."

-mitsubishi-

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Series Dakar
Drivers Luc Alphand , Henri Magne , Stéphane Peterhansel , Jean-Paul Cottret , Gilles Picard , Ari Vatanen , Jean Brucy , Serge Henninot , Andy Caldecott , Mana Pornsiriched