Monster Energy X-raid Team defends overall lead
• Stéphane Peterhansel the new overall leader
• All the five MINI ALL4 Racing vehicles secure top-nine position, in special stage two
In the second stage of the 2012 Dakar Rally, from Santa Rosa de la Pampa to San Rafael, the Monster Energy X-raid Team kept on delivering, with French pairing Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean Paul Cottret in their green MINI ALL4 Racing setting the second-fastest time behind Nasser Al Attiyah to take the overall lead. Krzysztof Holowczyc in the ORLEN MINI ALL4 Racing finished fourth behind Robby Gordon and right ahead of Spanish-French pairing Nani Roma / Michel Périn who came fifth, with the yellow MINI ALL4 Racing. Novitskiy and his German co-driver Andi Schulz took their orange MINI All4 Racing to eighth position, on day two, and the two Portuguese Ricardo Leal dos Santos and Paulo Fiuza completed the fine MINI All4 Racing result by securing ninth place.
Peterhansel and Cottret came close to even winning the second special stage. The French pairing held the special-stage lead for quite a while but in the end, their opponent from Qatar proved to be even quicker. Nonetheless, finishing second was enough for Peterhansel for taking the overall lead. “But it’s far too early to cheer about having taken the lead,” said the Frenchman. “After all, it’s just the second day and the gaps are small.”
For Poland’s Holowczyc and his Belgian co-driver, Jean-Marc Fortin, the second day proved to be a true roller-coaster ride. They held third position in the early stages and took the lead at the third checkpoint but at the end of the day, they had to settle for finishing fourth.
Right behind his Polish team-mate, Roma came fifth. For the Spaniard, the opening stages proved to be rather difficult as he had to pass several opponents. “Unfortunately, I lost a lot of time while trying to do so,” revealed Roma, “But I enjoy the event and am happy with my performance.” Dos Santos had to cope with the same problem: he had to pass several motorbikes before he could go for it on a free track.
The Chilean-French squad Boris Garafulic / Gilles Picard also secured a good result. They finished 19th, with their Vision Advisors BMW X3 CC.
The special stage was really demanding for the drivers. “We covered the first 140 kilometres in an hour,” said Peterhansel. “This demonstrates that we were really quick.” Afterwards, more dunes were waiting for the field. “There, you had to be really careful as you could easily get stuck, otherwise,” added the French. The final 60 kilometres of the special stage were extremely bumpy. “A rather tough test for us and our backs,” Jean-Marc Fortin said laughing. In addition, the track already took the field to 2000 metres above sea level, with the thin air making an impact on the engine performance.
Tomorrow, the third special stage will take the Team X-raid drivers to the first foothills of the Andes. The 270-kilometre special stage will feature a rocky track with many road holes and several water passages.