TEAM X-RAID GMBH'S CHICHERIT AND PETERHANSEL SET SECOND AND SIXTH FASTEST TIMES INTO LA RIOJA * Roma rolls and slips to eighth; Peterhansel holds third overall * X-Raid Leonid Novitskiy finishes 12th to hold 13th place * Qatar's Nasser Saleh ...
TEAM X-RAID GMBH'S CHICHERIT AND PETERHANSEL SET SECOND AND SIXTH FASTEST TIMES INTO LA RIOJA
* Roma rolls and slips to eighth; Peterhansel holds third overall
* X-Raid Leonid Novitskiy finishes 12th to hold 13th place
* Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah moves into overall Dakar lead
LA RIOJA (Argentina): Team X-raid GmbH's Guerlain Chicherit and Stephane Peterhansel set the second and sixth fastest times on the demanding 355km second special stage of the 2010 Dakar Rally between Cordoba and La Rioja in Argentina on Sunday.
The stage time ensured that Peterhansel and his French co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret headed into the overnight halt in third position in the general classification in their BMW X3 CC, 2m 30s behind Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and German co-driver Timo Gottschalk, who moved into a 1m 19s outright lead with the day's fastest time.
The X--raid team's overnight leaders, Joan 'Nani' Roma and Michel Perin, lost their place at the head of the leader board when they rolled near the stage start and lost over 15 minutes. They eventually finished the technical special in an unofficial 18th position and slipped to eighth overall. X-raid Russia's Leonid Novitskiy and Andreas Schulz set the 12th fastest time and now hold 13th in the overall standings.
"It was a case of good and bad luck again for us today," admitted X-raid team director Sven Quandt. "It was a fantastic stage result for Guerlain after the problems on Saturday, but bad luck for Nani. Thankfully he did not lose too much time and is still inside the top 10 and not too far behind, but I think that the rally really starts tomorrow."
Sunday's 355km special was delayed by 30 minutes because of adverse weather conditions in the Cordoba area. The special included several of the famous sections from the WRC event in Argentina, including the El Condor stage.
The day started badly for overnight leader Roma, who admitted that his opening stage win was merely the start of a long battle. A mere two kilometres into the second special he rolled his BMW X3 CC into a ditch. Fortunately for the Spaniard, the incident was not severe and the crew lost just 15 minutes getting the car back on the track and on its way again.
Peterhansel shadowed Brazilian Maurizio Neves, Al-Attiyah and teammate Chicherit through the 50km checkpoint in fourth position and Guerlain managed to hold on to his virtual third place through 90km where Peterhansel slipped to fifth.
The Frenchman was in fine form and moved ahead of Al-Attiyah after 136km and into the outright stage lead through 181km, but he had slipped back to third position by the time the leading cars reached the passage control at 223km. Peterhansel held fourth, Novitskiy was 12th and Roma had clawed back some of his lost time and was running in 20th position on the stage.
Chicherit managed to sneak passed Neves again over the closing kilometres to record the second fastest time. He had been delayed with electrical problems on the stage between Colon and Cordoba on Saturday and lost around 50 minutes as a result. The Frenchman was classified 84th overall at the end of the stage and was permitted to start Sunday's second stage from 21st position on the road on safety grounds.
"These things can happen in rally-raid," admitted Chicherit. "The engine started to cut out after 50km, but we managed to keep it rolling. But, with 60km to go, it died and it took us one hour to get to the problem. Assuming it was dry, today was always going to be a dusty one for us, starting further down the order."
Crews will spend Sunday night in a bivouac near the cattle farming town of La Rioja, the birthplace of the former Argentine President, Isabel Martinez de Peron.
Tomorrow (Monday) the route begins the steady climb towards the Andes foothills and crews will tackle the 182km special stage to Fiambala, a town in the Tinogasta department in the western region of Catamarca. A portion of the stage and the overnight bivouac are located at the beginning of the Altiplano at around 1,500 metres above sea level.
The day begins with a tiring 259km road liaison, which winds its way along the side of the Sierra de Velasco hills and the relatively short stage starts at Santa Rosa to the east of the overnight halt. The stage forms a loop to the north and west of Fiambala, includes three passage controls and takes place with the backdrop of the Cordillera de San Buenaventura mountains on the western horizon.