Dakar: Team Repsol stage six report

FIRST VICTORY FOR REPSOL RIDER JORDI VILADOMS AT THE DAKAR The Team Repsol KTM rider takes the stage victory ahead of team mate Marc Coma, who is second. Giovanni Sala is sixth and moves up to the eleventh position in the overall...

FIRST VICTORY FOR REPSOL RIDER JORDI VILADOMS AT THE DAKAR

The Team Repsol KTM rider takes the stage victory ahead of team mate Marc Coma, who is second. Giovanni Sala is sixth and moves up to the eleventh position in the overall standings

Jordi Viladoms has become part of the select group of riders having achieved a stage victory at the hardest rally of the world, today. Viladoms, at his second Dakar Rally - last year he dropped out on the penultimate day, almost having reached Dakar, after a crash while being eleventh-, covered the 394 km of the special in 3 hours, 45 minutes and 45 seconds, only 57 seconds ahead of team mate Marc Coma, who finished second.

Today's stage between Tan Tan and Zouerat was a compendium of hard situations for the motorbike riders caused by harsh weather conditions. While the riders were leaving the camp this morning (04.30 a.m.) facing a 414 liaison to leave Morocco and enter Mauritania, a sand storm came up, hindering them from moving due to the huge visibility problems. Once they had reached "The Wall" -- name given by Dakar participants to the border between the territory of Western Sahara and Mauritania - heavy rainfall surprised riders again, who were held back in the large amounts of mud after the border post, forcing them to stop several times to clean their bikes' fronts. Once these obstacles had been overcome, a 394-km special lay ahead, with loads of fast tracks, combined with some dune crossings and camel grass sections.

After yesterday's special, Viladoms started fourth today, behind Esteve (first), Coma (second) and Despres (third). After the first kilometres, Viladoms caught the preceding riders at CP1 where they all stopped for refuelling, but he lost them again due to a problem with the front suspension of his bike, caused by the mud. Despite these problems, Viladoms was able to recover and keep his pace, clinching the victory of the stage. With this victory, Viladoms keeps the sixth position in the overall standings. Team mate Marc Coma, second fastest today, keeps the overall leadership and increased his advantage over Esteve, second, by two minutes. The third rider of the Team Repsol KTM, Italy's Giovanni Sala, finished sixth today, clearly showing his progression and improvement on the KTM 690.

Marc Coma
"We've entered Mauritania today, and the first part of the stage has been very fast. Then we went off-road on camel grass, which was major stuff. Now there's one day left for the rest day, but we have still a difficult stage ahead tomorrow, so let's hope that we'll be able to continue moving on without problems. We had a 400km-liaison before the special today, 200 km of which were on tracks filled with mud because of the heavy rainfall, and it's been especially hard for the machines because the brake pads were completely worn, the radiator was blocked and we've had to work a bit on the bikes before that start of the special.

Jordi Viladoms
"I'm very happy because this is obviously a dream come true for me. But I don't want to let my attention wander thinking about this victory. We have to focus on what is still ahead, which is more than half of the race yet, and on my real aim, which is helping Marc. I obviously value this victory a lot, because it means that the whole team has done a great job throughout the year. I started fourth today and the first kilometres passed by really quickly since it was a flat straight area, and there were little differences. At the refuelling I had already got close to the three top riders and although the stops of the front suspension burst while trying to start the bike, making me loose some time, it wasn't enough to loose the victory."

Giovanni Sala
"Today's stage has been very long. We've made a load of kilometres under incredible conditions. There was a sand storm this morning during the liaison and therefore visibility was null and then it began to rain and everything became mud. I had never seen such a persistent and heavy rainfall as today in the ten years I've been at the Dakar. Fortunately, once we had crossed the border and entered Mauritania, the conditions improved and there were no problems with it during the special. It's been a quite long and very fast special. A part for some time over camel grass, we've had very fast tracks and I've been able to ride well and problem-free. On the other hand, navigation has been quite easy today, because it's been easy to follow the traces of the previous riders in the wet sand, and that allowed me to race without any problem."

MIXED FORTUNES FOR TEAM REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART ON LONGEST DAY OF THE 29TH DAKAR RALLY

Peterhansel matches leader Sainz; Masuoka delayed with clutch problems. Roma loses time with a puncture and at the scene of rival's accident The longest day of this year's Dakar Rally -- a tiring 817km section between Tan Tan in southern Morocco and Zouérat in north-western Mauritania -- offered mixed fortunes for Team Repsol Misubishi Ralliart. Team drivers Luc Alphand, Stéphane Peterhansel, Joan 'Nani' Roma and Hiroshi Masuoka now hold fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth places in the overall standings.

Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret were the leading Mitsubishi crew through the first passage control in sixth position and finished the stage a mere 32 seconds behind the overall rally leader Carlos Sainz in fifth place. The French duo will now start the subsequent special into Atar, 25m 03s behind the Spaniard and in fifth position overall. Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard were classified eighth through the first passage control and eventually finished the stage in seventh position. They now hold fourth in the overall standings. Joan 'Nani' Roma and Lucas Cruz began the stage as the leading Mitsubishi crew in fourth place and were 10th through the first passage control, but they lost over 20 minutes through the latter sections; four minutes to assist at the scene of the accident involving Guerlain Chicherit's BMW X3CC and further vital minutes attempting to change a flat tire. Roma now holds seventh overall. Hiroshi Masuoka and Pascal Maimon lost 35 minutes before the first passage control after stopping 60km into the stage to affect emergency repairs to their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution, which had suffered clutch problems.

Tomorrow (Friday), Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart will tackle the first of the very difficult Dakar special stages between Zouérat and the rest day location at Atar. The 542km special begins just four kilometres from the overnight halt and is the longest of the event so far. It finishes in Atar after a short 34km liaison section. The day marks the first of the treacherous Mauritanian dune crossings, the incentive to reach the finish being the onset of the rest day on Saturday. The stage loops its way around Choûm before heading south-west of Atar and returning on sandy tracks between Akjoujt and Ain Attaya.

Stéphane Peterhansel
"My stage time was not so bad. The stage was so fast. We did 157km in the first hour! We are not as fast as some of the other cars on the high-speed sections. I hope now the race has entered Mauritania we have some big dunes. Maybe this is my opportunity to take some time back. For the last two years tomorrow's stage has been good for Mitsubishi, but we do not know where the route will go, so we must wait and see."

Luc Alphand
"We must have spent three quarters of the stage absolutely flat out. I really tried hard in the camel grass and I still lost two minutes to Stéphane by the first passage control. Maybe my tire pressure was slightly under the ideal setting. The last part of the stage was a sandy track, with some camel grass and small dunes. I just have to keep up my pace and try again tomorrow. The others are really pushing."

Nani Roma
"Today hasn't been a great day for us. Right after the start, Chicherit's BMW passed us in the fastest section. Then we went over camel grass and I caught him back because we were faster there, and then, suddenly he overturned twice right in front of us, it was spectacular. We obviously stopped to help then because the first car to arrive is the one that has to stop. We've stayed there with them for some minutes after calling the organisation and telling them the coordinates. We'll get back the minutes we lost there but the worst was yet to come. Sousa and Miller had passed and we were not able to pass them back until an off-road section. Once we had, we had a flat tyre and while changing the tyre with the hydraulic jack it blocked and we lost even more time trying to repair it."

Hiroshi Masuoka
"Everything was going very well. Then we had a problem with the clutch and we had to stop and change it in the stage."

Dominique Serieys (Director Deportivo MMSP)
"We limited the difference between us, the VWs and the Buggies in today's stage and that was the priority. Nani lost some time stopping to help Guerlain and then he had a flat tire, Hiroshi was delayed, but Stéphane and Luc did a good job. The average speeds were so high today. For nearly 400km, it took less than three hours for the leading cars. Now we must look ahead to tomorrow and the stage into Atar. It is not the same stage as last year and passes the right side of Atar. You never know what the weather conditions will be, but it is a new day and I hope that we can get some time back to organize a nice fight for the remainder of the race into Dakar."

-credit: repsol

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Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Luc Alphand , Hiroshi Masuoka , Stéphane Peterhansel , Jean-Paul Cottret , Gilles Picard , Pascal Maimon , Giovanni Sala , Nani Roma , Marc Coma , Jordi Viladoms , Lucas Cruz