CHICHERIT AND AL-ATTIYAH MAINTAIN THEIR POSITIONS INSIDE THE TOP 10 AFTER FIRST AFRICAN STAGE TO ER RACHIDIA * Brazilian Nobre recovers from Portuguese problems to set 15th fastest time * Germany's Kleinschmidt suffers small...
CHICHERIT AND AL-ATTIYAH MAINTAIN THEIR POSITIONS INSIDE THE TOP 10 AFTER FIRST AFRICAN STAGE TO ER RACHIDIA
* Brazilian Nobre recovers from Portuguese problems to set 15th
* Germany's Kleinschmidt suffers small fire but manages to continue
ER RACHIDIA, Morocco -- The X-Raid Team settled into Africa by setting the ninth and 10th fastest times on the third stage of the 29th Dakar Rally and the first of 13 special stages on the Dark Continent between today and the finish in Dakar on Sunday, January 21st.
Extreme skiing champion Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel began the day in seventh position, sandwiched between Giniel de Villiers and Miguel Barbosa on the Morocco stage. The Frenchman was ninth on the road at PC1 and maintained that position to the finish of the stage to hold ninth overall.
Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec started the second stage in 15th, two minutes ahead of team mate Jutta Kleinschmidt and following in the dust of American Mark Miller. They were classified 11th at PC1, but eventually finished the stage in 10th position and slipped a place to 10th overall.
German Kleinschmidt and Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner climbed back to 35th position after setting the 16th fastest time on the final European stage. But the German's troubled start to the Dakar Rally continued, when her X3CC suffered a small fire around 20km from the first passage control.
The fire was quickly extinguished and the German lady was able to continue some minutes later. She eventually completed the stage in 20th position after losing 18 minutes at the scene and now holds 23rd place.
"This is only the third day of the race and there is a long way to go," said X-Raid Team Director Sven Quandt."I would like to be reach the end of Morocco with no more than a 20-minute gap between our cars and the leaders. Jutta lost a little time today, but Paulo is back in the hunt and Guerlain and Nasser are running well, staying safe and keeping the car in a good condition. We are well ahead of Jean-Louis Schlesser, so I am quite happy at this point."
Spaniard José-Luis Monterde and Jean-Marie Lurquin began the first African stage in 26th place in the overall standings and were 41st at the first PC and went on to finish 35th.
Brazilian Paulo Nobre completed the second European special stage in a lowly 177th position after losing over two hours following his accident. He began the first African special stage in 21st place in the field and suffered the added disadvantage of running through all the dust. He was classified 129th overall at the start of the day, but was an excellent 15th fastest at the first PC and completed the stage in a similar position.
Major support for the X-Raid team comes from new Hessen-based sponsor TrekStor, Magna Steyr, BMW Motoren GmbH, Reiger, BF Goodrich, MAN, Sabelt, BBS and KS-TOOLS.
Tuesday morning heralds a second punishing special stage in Africa between the overnight halt in Er Rachidia and the oasis tourist town of Ouarzazate. A 96km liaison steers teams to the beginning of the 405km special -- the longest timed section in Morocco on the 29th Dakar Rally -- and a 178km liaison steers teams into the overnight bivouac.
The second Morocco stage features several tracks used in the past by professional teams for testing and includes sand dunes and numerous rutted and pot-holed roads. Motorcycle competitors benefit from a separate bivouac 100km from the main camp site, but will run a longer liaison section the following morning.
-credit: bmw x-raid