Dakar: X-Raid BMW stage two report

QATAR'S AL-ATTIYAH SETS THIRD FASTEST TIME ON SECOND DAKAR STAGE FOR X-RAID TEAM MALAGA (Spain): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec led the four X-Raid teams after the second timed special stage of this year's...

QATAR'S AL-ATTIYAH SETS THIRD FASTEST TIME ON SECOND DAKAR STAGE FOR X-RAID TEAM

MALAGA (Spain): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec led the four X-Raid teams after the second timed special stage of this year's Dakar Rally in the Algarve between Portimao and the Spanish border today (Sunday). Two of the other three X-Raid teams held ninth and 21st places, with Spaniard Jose-Luis Monterde running later on the road in 44th place.

The second stage was won by Spaniard Carlos Sainz and he will now lead the Dakar car category into Africa, as the entire field of bikes, cars, trucks and assistance vehicles made the Meditteranean sea crossings from Malaga and Algeciras on Sunday evening.

Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec had begun the day in 19th position after breaking a wheel near the start of Saturday's opening stage. But the Qatari was in inspired form and passed several cars and bikes on his way to the third fastest time and eighth overall.

"It was much better for me today," said Al-Attiyah, the 2005 FIA Middle East rally champion. "I could have been even faster if I was not delayeed behind other cars and bikes."

French driver Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel had been the revelation of the opening day in their BMW X3 CC. They began today's special stage behind the 2001 Dakar winner Jutta Kleinschmidt and immediately ahead of the Spanish Mitsubishi factory driver Joan Roma. But the Frenchman arrived at the stage finish with a section of fencing hanging from the rear of his car. His altercation with the stage scenery cost him time and he slipped from fifth to equal ninth with the defending champion Stéphane Peterhansel.

Former enduro rider and current South African Off-Road champion Alfie Cox and co-driver Ralph Pitchford started today's special in 20th position and lost some time with a flat tyre and slipped to an unofficial 21st position on the leaderboard after setting the 22nd fastest time.

Spaniard José-Luis Monterde was a fine second overall in last November's UAE Desert Challenge, the final round of the 2005 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup. Along with his experienced co-driver Tiziano Siviero, the Castellon driver began today's special stage in 52nd place overall after opening day delays and was running much later on the road. He finished the stage in 40th place and now holds an unofficial 44th place.

"I am delighted with our progress so far," said Team Director Sven Quandt. "To have our two leading cars in the top 10 as we head towards Africa is perfect. Nasser did a great job today to be on the same pace as Sainz and the leading Mitsubishi. If we can maintain this performance and José-Luis can work as a support driver we have a great chance."

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

Monday morning will signify the first African special stage of the 28th Dakar Rally. After arriving at Nador on the Moroccan coast, the X-Raid Team will embark upon a potentially hazardous 237 kms liaison section to the start of a 314 kms special stage.

This section runs south towards the first overnight bivouac at Er Rachidia, crosses tricky wadis and requires numerous navigational skills from the co-drivers. A 121 kms liaison section takes teams to the overnight halt.

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Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Stéphane Peterhansel , Tiziano Siviero , Alfie Cox , Jose Luis Monterde , Alain Guehennec , Guerlain Chicherit , Matthieu Baumel , Ralph Pitchford