REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART TEAM CLAIMS ONE-TWO AS DAKAR RALLY TAKES ITS TOLL The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team demonstrated all the qualities that have allowed it to win 10 Dakar Rallies when the going got tough in today's seventh leg of the...
REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART TEAM CLAIMS ONE-TWO AS DAKAR RALLY TAKES ITS TOLL
The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team demonstrated all the qualities that have allowed it to win 10 Dakar Rallies when the going got tough in today's seventh leg of the 28th edition of the world's most famous rally. First and second positions in the 499 competitive kilometer section have rocketed the crews up the leaderboard, with Luc Alphand taking the outright lead and Stéphane Peterhansel claiming second overall in the standings. Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution team-mate Joan 'Nani' Roma holds sixth as weary crews continue to arrive at the bivouac.
A combination of superb driving from Peterhansel and precise navigation from co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret saw the French crew set fastest time in the section to power from ninth to second overall in just one leg. To complete a fantastic day, Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard were second on the demanding stage from Zouérat to Atar and take the overall lead for the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team. Joan 'Nani' Roma and Henri Magne finished seventh in the section and hold sixth position as the Dakar enters its most difficult phase.
Navigation was the story of the day with almost all of Peterhansel and Alphand's rivals falling foul of the conditions. "It was a very difficult stage with many sand dunes and some camel grass," said Peterhansel, who won the stage by nearly four and a half minutes. "The emphasis was on good navigation and not getting stuck. I had a puncture and we lost some time inflating and deflating the tires. That was necessary. But, all in all, it was a very positive day for us."
New leader Alphand began the day in fifth place and emphasized the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team's supremacy in the desert by moving into the overall lead, 5 minutes 58 seconds ahead of their nearest non-Mitsubishi rival, Jutta Kleinschmidt. "It is nice to be in front at the end of the first real desert stage," said Alphand. "But there is a long way to go. I hurt my neck a little after a heavy landing, but nothing too serious. I got stuck four times today in total and think we lost around 15 minutes in the camel grass. But I am very happy to have arrived in Atar at this time without serious problems when there are so many teams still in the desert."
Spaniard Joan 'Nani' Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne had a difficult day, dropping over 40 minutes to Peterhansel. Nevertheless, the Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution crew climbed four places in the overall classification from 10th to sixth.
Tomorrow's stage is the last before the well-deserved rest day in the coastal city of Nouakchott. After a short 34 kilometer liaison the long 508 kilometer stage begins in rocky valleys before reaching the first passage control. Sand is then again on the menu up to the second check point, from where the stage becomes much faster until the welcome sight of the Mauritanian capital.