BMW X-raid stage 12 report

MONSTER ENERGY X-RAID TEAM'S PETERHANSEL AND COTTRET HAMPERED BY MINOR PROBLEMS ON 12th STAGE INTO CУRDOBA

- Krzysztof Holowczyc maintains position with fifth on 12th stage
- Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah closes in on maiden Dakar victory
- Ricardo Leal Dos Santos consolidates seventh overall in his BMW
- Day marks 25th anniversary of Dakar founder Thierry Sabine's death

CУRDOBA (Argentina): The Monster Energy X-raid team duo of Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret were unable to close the gap on Spain's Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz and challenge strongly for third overall on the penultimate special stage of the 33rd Dakar Rally, between San Juan and Cordoba in the heartland of Argentina, on Friday.

On the exact day of the 25th anniversary of the death of Dakar founder Thierry Sabine, Peterhansel surged into an early stage lead, but he was forced to stop for seven minutes before the first passage control with a puncture and a minor overheating issue and eventually set the fourth fastest time to maintain fourth position. Sainz won the special, but Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah will take a 48m 21s advantage into the short final stage back to Buenos Aires on Saturday.

On the exact day of the 25th anniversary of the death of Dakar founder Thierry Sabine, Peterhansel surged into an early stage lead, but he was forced to stop for seven minutes before the first passage control with a puncture and a minor overheating issue and eventually set the fourth fastest time to maintain fourth position. Sainz won the special, but Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah will take a 48m 21s advantage into the short final stage back to Buenos Aires on Saturday.

Poland's Krzysztof Holowczyc and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin began the special behind Al-Attiyah, Peterhansel and De Villiers and were fifth at PC1 and maintained that position through the subsequent two checkpoints to conserve their fifth in the overall standings.

"Today I did not push," said Holowczyc. "There was nothing for us to gain and much to lose. It was a very long day. Tomorrow is the last day and I'm happy to finish because I am tired. The rally was very difficult this year."

"It looked very good at the beginning for us today, but then Stephane had some small problems," said Monster Energy X-raid team director Sven Quandt. "But we have kept fourth and fifth positions and we can be happy with that. Krzysztof drove perfectly again, Ricardo was very solid and Stephan Schott has also had a good stage and that is pleasing.

"Now it is a case of behaving, taking it easy and taking no risks on the last stage to conserve all the hard work."

Portugal's Ricardo Leal Dos Santos and Paulo Fiщza were fifth on the road in their quest to protect their seventh position in the overall rankings. They were sixth through PC1 and eighth at PC3 and PC4. Dos Santos eventually finished the special in eighth and maintains a solid seventh in the general classification.

Stephan Schott and Holm Schmidt arrived at the bivouac on Thursday evening and the X-raid mechanics were, therefore, forced to work very late through the eye of a violent storm to complete routine work on his BMW X3 CC before the stage today.

The German completed the 11th stage in 45th position and slipped a place to 21st in the overall standings. He was running in a fine 16th position at PC1 and improved to 15th by PCs two and three. Schott passed PC4 in 15th position at 17.56hrs.

Andrea Mayer, Thomas Baumann and Phillip Beier assisted Schott with repairs on stage 11 and finished the stage themselves in 24th position. Their MAN truck was granted a start time of 08.34hrs for the penultimate stage into Cordoba from 33rd in the overall truck rankings.

Stage 12

Today's stage was the longest single competitive section of the entire event and began after a 62km liaison from San Juan. The special featured four PCs at 175km, 294km, 341km and 487km and gradually climbed to a highest point of around 1,800 metres above sea level as the route neared the finish.

Trucks set off before the cars and bikes for the first time and only tackled the second section of the special, which featured a wide range of terrain. There had been a freak and violent storm in the night in San Juan, which hindered late work on cars in the bivouac. Heavy rain had also fallen during the night on the stage and there were many areas of standing water, particularly at the 67km and 107km points.

Trucks set off before the cars and bikes for the first time and only tackled the second section of the special, which featured a wide range of terrain. There had been a freak and violent storm in the night in San Juan, which hindered late work on cars in the bivouac. Heavy rain had also fallen during the night on the stage and there were many areas of standing water, particularly at the 67km and 107km points.

The rain alleviated the problem of dust and Peterhansel moved into a 47s stage lead from De Villiers through the 43km point, as Al-Attiyah was a man of his word and duly followed the Frenchman.

At the 11th hour, race organisers decided to insert a neutralisation zone between PC2 and PC3 (294km--341km) to avoid an area adversely affected by the overnight downpour.

Peterhansel maintained his charge from the front of the field and was running 5m 01s in front of Al-Attiyah through 117km, but he was delayed for seven minutes before PC1 and slipped into a virtual fourth on the special behind De Villiers, Sainz and Al-Attiyah. Holowczyc and Dos Santos held fifth and sixth.

Despite starting from 14th on the road, Sainz had snatched the lead at the start of the neutralisation section from 294km and was running 25s in front of De Villiers through PC3. Peterhansel, Holowczyc and Dos Santos held fourth, fifth and eighth places, with Peterhansel again hampered by punctures and minor overheating issues.

The Frenchman was able to up his pace towards PC4 and closed the gap on stage leader Sainz, De Villiers and Al-Attiyah. But Sainz held on to take the stage win, while De Villiers shadowed Al- Attiyah to the stage finish. The Qatari will now take a 48m 21s advantage over the South African into the final stage on Saturday.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow (Saturday) marks the last stage of the 33rd Personal Dakar Argentina-Chile and the route between Cordoba and Buenos Aires includes a short 182km special in a total distance of 827km.

The first section of the day shares the outward route of the rally run in reverse, with cars passing through Villa Maria and Canada de Gomez, en route to Rosario and the start of the final stage at San Nicolas de Los Arrochos.

The stage will finish at the Baradero racetrack and a 150km liaison guides the surviving entrants back to Parc Ferme at La Rural in Buenos Aires.

-source: dakar

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Jean-Paul Cottret , Andrea Mayer , Krzysztof Holowczyc , Jean-Marc Fortin , Thomas Baumann , Lucas Cruz Senra , Stephan Schott , Holm Schmidt , Ricardo Leal Dos Santos