LUC ALPHAND (MITSUBISHI/BFGOODRICH) BACK ON THE VICTORY TRAIL This afternoon saw Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard claim victory in the 2008 Rali Vodafone Transiberico, round two of this year's FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup. BFGoodrich'snew ...
LUC ALPHAND (MITSUBISHI/BFGOODRICH) BACK ON THE VICTORY TRAIL
This afternoon saw Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard claim victory in the 2008 Rali Vodafone Transiberico, round two of this year's FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup. BFGoodrich'snew All-Terrain tyre won five of the nine stages - most of which were run in particularly treacherous conditions - in the hands of Nasser Al-Attiyah (2nd, BMW) and Stephane Peterhansel (5th, Mitsubishi).
Luc Alphand, whose last rally-raid win dates back to the 2007 Rally Por Las Pampas, was back on the top of the podium this afternoon after five days of competition across the western tip of the Iberian peninsular. Heavy rain made the conditions extremely delicate and certain stages were transformed into little more than mud baths in places, forcing the organisers to shorten the third day's test.
Only the second leg took place entirely in sunshine as the factory Mitsubishi squad took control at the overnight halt in Castelo Branco. Driving the new diesel-powered Pajero, Spain'sNani Roma topped the provisional leaderboard ahead of Luc Alphand and Stephane Peterhansel who was fastest over the morning'stest with his Pajero MPR13 equipped with the latest BFGoodrich tyre.
"The new All-Terrain tyre made its first appearance this week after a year of development and testing," confided BFGoodrich Rally-Raid Technician Dominique Bravy. "We made it available to our factory partners for this rally, and Stephane Peterhansel and Nasser Al- Attiyah both took up the opportunity to use it. Their times show that it has potential and the rally enabled us to collect some valuable information for the future."
With a score of five wins from nine stages in conditions as different as dust and mud, the results confirmed the progress shown by the tyre during testing. It'scompletely new: a new construction, a new pattern and new dimensions (245x80x16), too, since its tread is wider than that of the Rock T/A", explains BFGoodrich developper Michel Maraval,
Stephane Peterhansel claimed the first 'true'stage (207km) of the event with the new tyre. After Thursday'ssecond pass through the same test, the three-time Dakar winner was third overall despite suffering a broken tyre valve which led to a slow puncture. Meanwhile, the second day'saction saw Qatar'sNasser Al-Attiyah transform his BMW X3 into a 'pick-up' following a big shunt.
Despite this incident and a 26-minute penalty, Al-Attiyah lined up for the start of Friday'sleg which featured extremely wet conditions. With his 'pick-up'running on the new BFGoodrich All-Terrain, he claimed the day'stwo tests, while Peterhansel, Terranova (BMW/BFGoodrich) and Holowczyc (Nissan/BFGoodrich) were amongst those who were caught out by the day's difficulties.
"It was my mistake," admitted Peterhansel. We will now treat the rest of the event as a full- scale test session to work on the suspension and the new All-Terrain tyre. All the data we can gather before the finish will be very useful for the future."
The fourth leg was just as wet and saw the overnight leader Nani Roma fall down the order following a problem with the power-steering pump drive-belt of his new diesel-engined Pajero. That gave Luc Alphand a free hand to cruise home and hand victory to Mitsubishi. Nasser Al-Attiyah fought back from a long way down to finish second overall ahead of Portugal's Felipe Campos (BMW/BFGoodrich).
1, Alphand/Picard (Mitsubishi), 16h 25m 28s
2, Al-Attiyah/Thorner (BMW), +35m 46s
3, Campos/Baptista (BMW), +45m 57s
4, Oliveira/Marques (Nissan), +1h 8m 26s
5, Peterhansel/Cottret (Mitsubishi), +1h 13m 5s