X-RAID'S CHICHERIT CONTINUES HIS CLIMB WITH SIXTH INTO LA SERENA * Minor electrical sensor problem delays Orlando Terranova * Kuipers and Novitskiy set the 12th and 14th fastest time LA SERENA (Chile): X-raid's Sails Capital Racing Team's ...
X-RAID'S CHICHERIT CONTINUES HIS CLIMB WITH SIXTH INTO LA SERENA
* Minor electrical sensor problem delays Orlando Terranova
* Kuipers and Novitskiy set the 12th and 14th fastest time
LA SERENA (Chile): X-raid's Sails Capital Racing Team's Guerlain Chicherit set the sixth fastest time on the eighth 294km special stage along Chile's Pacific Coast from Valparaiso to La Serena on Sunday, despite being blocked in the dust of America's Robbie Gordon for around 130km.
But Argentine team mate Orlando Terranova lost over 70 minutes with a minor electrical sensor problem, as Rene Kuipers and Leonid Novitskiy brought their BMW X3 CCs to the stage finish in 12th and 14th overall, Kuipers duly climbing to a superb ninth overall on his first Dakar.
"Orly had a minor sensor problem, but Guerlain lost a lot of time behind Robbie Gordon," said team director Sven Quandt. "I am quite happy with today though. Rene is driving well and this shows that going steady can be a very successful strategy."
The French duo of Chicherit and Matthieu Baumel were quickly into a competitive pace on the morning's stage and were running third behind Dieter Depping and Carlos Sainz at the 49km point, but slipped to sixth through 180km and the first passage control.
"For me the second week of the rally opens up new opportunities to set some fast times," admitted Chicherit. "I would dearly like to win two or three stages and, especially the long loop stage which everyone thinks will be the hardest of them all. But it was not possible today."
"We caught Robbie Gordon after 60km and stayed behind him for 130km," added co-driver Baumel. "There were a lot of hairpins and we could not get past. But he knew we were there. We were able to say 'hello' some times! He never moved. Then Giniel caught us after 150km and we both stayed behind him. We could have been so much faster today. It is very unfair."
Argentina's Orlando Terranova and French co-driver Alain Guehennec began the morning's special down in 26th place, but were delayed early on with a minor sensor problem. They managed to get going again at a slow pace and reached the passage control in 92nd position after dropping 70 minutes, but managed to retain their place in the overall top 10.
Dutchman Rene Kuipers and Portuguese co-driver Filipe Palmeiro were running in 14th position through the 180km point and finished the stage in 12th. They moved up to ninth in the overall rankings following Terranova's delays.
"I am obviously surprised to be inside the top 10," said Kuipers. "Maybe I have found a pace that suits my driving and means I don't take risks. It would not have been possible to get this far without this car or my co-driver. I would not know the way through the dunes and Filipe has been fantastic on the road book.
"This car is so strong as well. It gives me the confidence to drive to my level each day. If I tried to go quicker, I would be going too fast for my level and that would be a mistake."
X-raid Russia's Leonid Novitskiy and Oleg Tyupenkin began the day in 22nd overall and held a virtual 12th place through the PC, before arriving at the stage finish in 14th overall.
Of the original 530 entrants in the 2009 Dakar Rally, 337 teams restarted out of Valparaiso on Sunday morning, with numerous back-markers benefiting from the ASO's decision to permit any non-seeded vehicle that did not complete legs five and six to restart with 200 hours' of penalties. Therefore, 156 bikes and quads, 116 cars and 65 trucks set out into the stage to La Serena.
Tomorrow (Monday) the route continues its move north along the length of the longest country in the world to reach Copiapo in the Atacama desert, the highest and driest area of its kind in the world and one of the most important mining regions of recent years.
Teams will need to pass more sand dunes towards the end of the 449km stage, which starts 88km from La Serena at Tres Cruces, and finishes at the Copiapo bivouac after five passage controls, including three near Vallenar, Algarrobal and Punta de Diaz.
At 390 metres above sea level, Copiapo is the capital of the Atacama region and of the province of the same name and lies on the Copiapo River. It lies in an area rich in silver and copper deposits and has become a major mining centre in recent years following a boom in demand for commodities