FRENCHMAN CHICHERIT CLIMBS UP TO SIXTH POSITION IN HIS BMW X3 * French X-Raid team driver leads the stage outright only to finish sixth * Qatar's Al-Attiyah maintains 12th place; Spaniard Monterde in 16th overall TAN TAN, Morocco - Frenchman...
FRENCHMAN CHICHERIT CLIMBS UP TO SIXTH POSITION IN HIS BMW X3
* French X-Raid team driver leads the stage outright only to finish sixth
* Qatar's Al-Attiyah maintains 12th place; Spaniard Monterde in 16th overall
TAN TAN, Morocco - Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel were the overall leaders of the fifth special stage at the third passage control point between Ouarzazate and Tan Tan in Morocco on Wednesday after over two hours of racing against some of the finest rally drivers in the world.
But the French duo, who started the stage in eighth position on the road, eventually slipped to sixth at the finish and had the consolation of moving up to an excellent sixth in the overall standings. The extreme skiing champion had set out into the stage in front of Benoit Rousselot's Nissan and behind the defending champion Luc Alphand.
Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec began the morning's stage in 12th position, after a broken jack was the reason they lost two places on the leaderboard on Tuesday. Nasser collected two flat tyres and delays ensured that he was not able to maintain the pace he showed earlier in the stage.
"It has been very frustrating," said the Qatari. "I am trying my best, but every time I try and have a clean run there is a minor little problem that holds us back. That is the nature of the Dakar Rally. Lady luck is not with me at the moment, but I am sure that will change soon. I will just keep plugging on."
Al-Attiyah was 12th on the road at PC2 and eventually finished the stage in 12th position to hold 12th in the overall standings.
German Kleinschmidt and Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner began the day in 25th overall after finishing the special into Ouarzazate in 32nd position after all the results had been posted by event organisers. The 2001 event winner eventually finished the stage into Tan Tan in 20th position to hold 22nd position after losing crucial time replacing a damaged rear wheel and repairing a rear brake line.
"It was another good day for Guerlain, but it could have been so much better," said X-Raid Team Director Sven Quandt. "He was leading the stage at the second passage control and then dropped some time. Jutta was also running very well, but she punctured a tyre and this led to the wheel rim being damaged. She stopped to change the tyre, but the rim had damaged the brake line and it took a little longer than anticipated to get going again.
"We are still in a very good position and Guerlain proved today that the X3CC has the performance to match the factory teams. Tomorrow we head into Mauritania and the real meat of the Dakar Rally begins."
Spaniard José-Luis Monterde and Jean-Marie Lurquin started the run south into Tan Tan in 16th in the overall classification after finishing 14th on Tuesday. The Spaniard was 18th at PC2 in his BMW X5 and finished the stage in 19th place to maintain 16th overall.
Brazilian Paulo Nobre enjoyed a useful run into Ouarzazate and was understandably confident of taking a top result into Tan Tan after starting 17th on the road. He was running 16th quickest at PC2 after climbing up to 88th overall at the start of the day's action in Ouarzazate. Nobre finished the stage into Tan Tan in 23rd position.
Major support for the X-Raid team comes from Hessen-based sponsor TrekStor, Magna Steyr, BMW Motoren GmbH, Reiger, BF Goodrich, MAN, Sabelt and BBS.
Tomorrow (Thursday) is the longest day of the entire rally in terms of combined liaison and special stage distances. A daunting 414km liaison steers teams from Tan Tan, through the southern extremities of Morocco and across the border into the Islamic Republic of Mauritania via the town of Smara.
The road liaison continued into Mauritania to the settlement at Bir Mogrein and the start of a 394km special stage which finishes a mere nine kilometres from the mining town of Zouerat. The special offers a combination of fast tracks, camel grass and twisty roads along the westernmost terrain in Mauritania.
-credit: bmw x-raid