X-RAID'S NASSER AL-ATTIYAH SLIPS TO FOURTH OVERALL IN DAKAR RALLY AFTER NAVIGATION DELAYS * Solid second day runs by Terranova and Novitskiy * Frenchman Chicherit repaired and back on track PUERTO MADRYN (Argentina): X-raid's Sails Capital ...
X-RAID'S NASSER AL-ATTIYAH SLIPS TO FOURTH OVERALL IN DAKAR RALLY AFTER NAVIGATION DELAYS
* Solid second day runs by Terranova and Novitskiy
* Frenchman Chicherit repaired and back on track
PUERTO MADRYN (Argentina): X-raid's Sails Capital Racing Team lost the overall lead of the 2009 Dakar Rally on the short sprint stage between Santa Rosa de la Pampa and the Patagonian coastal resort of Puerto Madryn in Argentina on Sunday afternoon.
Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner had been the first crew into the special stage, courtesy of their win on Saturday in a BMW X3CC, but Al-Attiyah immediately began to drop the odd second to Spaniard Carlos Sainz through the opening 15 km and then lost his overall lead when he suffered navigational delays and dropped six minutes to the chasing pack.
But the Qatari was able to recover some of the lost time. He duly passed hundreds of welcoming onlookers and tourists in the coastal resort, en route to the bivouac, after taking ninth position in the stage, although he slipped to fourth place in the overall rankings behind Sainz, South African Giniel de Villiers and Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel.
"A navigation problem," admitted Al-Attiyah. "We did not find the way for a time until we came across the waypoint. Now we have another hard day to come."
"It was my mistake," admitted co-driver Thorner. "We may have lost the fight today, but we are certainly still in with a great chance of winning the battle. If anything, it shows that the Dakar is a team game and the result is as much reliant on the driver as the co-driver."
X-raid's local hero Orlando Terranova and French co-driver Alain Guehennec began the second day in seventh overall and set the eighth fastest time to slip a place in the overall rankings. X-raid Russia's Leonid Novitskiy finished the stage in 14th position and confirmed 12th position overall.
Dutch Dakar rookies Peter van Merksteijn and Rene Kuipers started well on Saturday and set two competitive stage times in their BMW X3 CCs. They both survived the fast second stage unscathed as well and held 13th and 21st positions in the overall classification upon arrival at Puerto Madryn.
"I know rallies but this is my first Dakar and I have never driven stages 300 or 400km long before," admitted van Merksteijn. "So far it has been fine. I lost quite a bit of time on the stage, but I am quite happy with my position inside the top 15. I would have settled for that at the start of the rally."
The French duo of Guerlain Chicherit and Matthieu Baumel had been at the head of the field on Saturday afternoon, before Chicherit blotted his copybook in the dust. But the X-raid mechanics changed the front, right-hand suspension during the night and the front left-hand suspension on his BMW X3 CC as a precaution this morning, before Chicherit was able to restart from a reseeded position.
He set the unofficial 15th fastest time on the stage, but eight hours of time penalties were amassed on Saturday evening and he faces a mammoth climb up the leader board over the coming days.
"Navigation mistakes can always happen," said team director Sven Quandt. "If you are opening the road it is never easy and there is always more pressure on you. We lost six minutes, but we can easily have a good run tomorrow. Nasser has a good position behind Orly (Terranova) and may be able to make up some time. I am also pleased that there is not much work needed on the other cars and that will give the mechanics a chance to take some extra rest."
Tomorrow (Monday) teams leave Puerto Madryn in a westerly direction and cross the barren Patagonian wastelands to the overnight halt at Jacobacci, situated to the east of the popular tourist centre and former start of the Por Las Pampas Rally at San Carlos de Bariloche.
The day's timetable begins with a 70km liaison section before teams tackle a winding 616km special -- the longest of the event so far -- on classic flowing terrain, starting at Sierra Chuta and passing the Sierra Negra and Sierra Apas.
The special then winds its way through the Pampa de Talagape towards a second passage control near El Cain, before an 8km liaison guides teams into the overnight halt at Jacobacci, 872 metres above sea level.