Dakar: X-Raid BMW stage five report

QATAR'S AL-ATTITYAH BADLY DELAYED WITH ENGINE COMPONENT FAILURE Chicherit takes 11th fastest time into Tan Tan to hold 11th; Cox climbs to 12th place TAN TAN (Morocco): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec held...

QATAR'S AL-ATTITYAH BADLY DELAYED WITH ENGINE COMPONENT FAILURE

Chicherit takes 11th fastest time into Tan Tan to hold 11th; Cox climbs to 12th place

TAN TAN (Morocco): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec held third overall through the first passage control in this morning's fifth special stage of the 28th Dakar Rally, but suffered engine-related problems in the latter part of the stage and had lost over two hours at the second passage control. The Qatari slipped out of the top 10 in the overall classification and was classified 125th late on Wednesday as he waited for his assistance vehicle before attempting to reach the bivouac in Tan Tan.

"Nasser's car sustained a supplier component failure today," said Team Director Sven Quandt. "It is the first time that the air intake for the turbo has failed. The part was designed especially for the X3 and it let us down. Sand and dust has been ingested in the engine and we will need to make sure that the engine is okay. When Nasser arrives in the bivouac we will make repairs as best we can and hope that he can start again on Thursday morning. It is very disappointing for him and the whole team."

Spaniard Carlos Sainz continues to lead the event in his Volkswagen, despite dropping time to his rivals today by setting the ninth fastest time. Only minutes and seconds now separate the top 10 drivers in what is becoming one of the most thrilling Dakar rallies on record.

Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel finished 11th overall in today's stage into Tan Tan and hold a similar position in the overall standings, despite sustaining a flat tyre.

Alfie Cox and co-driver Ralph Pitchford have gradually climbed up the rankings in their BMW X3 CC and now hold an excellent 12th overall, after setting the 13th fastest time today.

"We are getting there," said Cox. "We are getting used to the car and enjoying it more each day. We had a puncture, but we are closing in on the top 10 and that is great for my confidence."

Spaniard José-Luis Monterde and former WRC-winning co-driver Tiziano Siviero struggled through the stage into Ouarzazate with a water pipe problem and eventually completed the stage in 81st position. They were running late on the road on today's stage into Tan Tan and finished the section in 35th place to move up to a proviisonal 56th in the standings at 16.00 hrs.

Major support for the X-Raid team comes from Corona Extra and Magna Steyr.

Thursday morning marks the final journey through Morocco before the rally heads across the border into the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Teams will leave Tan Tan - the southernmost city in Morocco and main centre of the Tarfaya province - in the middle of the night to tackle the first punishing 336 kms liaison section across a remote border control. The crossing of the infamous 'Wall' will take the entire Dakar caravan into Mauritania.

The X-Raid team will then enter a southerly 444 kms special stage along the western Mauritanian border to a finish 12 kms from the town of Zouérat. The stage is arguably the most difficult so far and features rocky tracks, gravel roads and sand dunes.

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Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Alfie Cox , Alain Guehennec , José-Luis Monterde , Guerlain Chicherit , Matthieu Baumel , Ralph Pitchford