MITSUBISHI MAINTAIN ONE-TWO INTO DAKAR REST DAY AS ROMA CLIMBS TO FOURTH The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team today maintained it's hold on the top two positions in the 28th edition of the Dakar, the world's most legendary rally. The team built...
MITSUBISHI MAINTAIN ONE-TWO INTO DAKAR REST DAY AS ROMA CLIMBS TO FOURTH
The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team today maintained it's hold on the top two positions in the 28th edition of the Dakar, the world's most legendary rally. The team built on yesterday's success with second, fourth and fifth fastest stage times on the 508 kilometer special stage from Atar to Nouakchott to end up first, second and fourth in the overall classification.
Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret have overtaken their team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard, both in Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolutions, to take a 32 second lead. The first non Mitsubishi crew is now a distant 26 minutes behind after another testing day for the crews as they arrive at the long awaited rest day in the Mauritanian capital.
"I got stuck in the sand and we also had two flat tires," said Peterhansel. "The latter part of the stage was very quick and we went as fast as 196 kph at one point with a tail wind!"
Despite his second place Alphand was disappointed. "It was a bad day for me," said the Frenchman. "I got stuck for about a quarter of an hour and we got lost for a time. It is disappointing to lose four minutes to Stephane as well."
Team mates. Spaniard Joan 'Nani' Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne in the third Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution finished fourth on the stage to jump two place in the overall classification to fourth position as the Mitsubishi team showed again the pace and reliability which has given it 10 Dakar wins in the past.
"It was a very difficult stage with a lot of sand and we spent too much time trying to find a difficult waypoint," said Roma. "We spent five or six minutes trying to find this vital point. But our three cars are here in one piece and some of our rivals have had problems, so we should be very relieved right now."
The crews now have a free day in Nouakchott to prepare for the second half of what has been a very tough fought Dakar. While mechanics use the day to re- fettle battle-worn cars, drivers and co-drivers use the time for a well-earned rest and to mix with the large numbers of VIPs and members of the media who have flown in to visit the Dakar and absorb the extraordinary atmosphere of the event. Mitsubishi has brought an extra eleven mechanics to help the already very tired members of the team re-prepare the cars for the remaining seven relentless stages.
Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys said, "It is only half way to Dakar, but I will not deny that we have had a very positive couple of days,. But this is the Dakar Rally and anything can happen at any time. We will just keep our focus and maintain our concentration next week and see what develops."
Mitsubishi duo on track for Nouakchott
Chinese driver Guan Yuan Men and French co-driver Serge Henninot began the stage into Nouakchott in 59th place. Last year the Chinese driver had been stranded in the dunes for over three days and returned to the Atar bivouac after being rescued by an organisers' team. They held 42nd position through the second passage control of the gruelling special into the rest day at 19.40 hrs (CET).
Thailand's Mana Pornsiriched and French co-driver Jean Brucy began the day in 76th place in their Ralliart-prepared Mitsubishi Racing Triton Evolution after clutch problems had dropped them back at Atar.
Their problems had begun at the 75kms point of the stage on Friday into Atar, when their clutch began slipping and rather than risk the car through the tricky dune section, the crew had actually returned to Zouerat and taken the road route for assistance vehicles directly to the bivouac in Atar, taking on a fistful of time penalties into the bargain.
"Our biggest scare was being over the time limit and taking on too many penalties," said co-driver Brucy. "But it was better to be safe rather than sorry."
The Thai driver was in inspired form on the stage into Nouakchott and set the 12th fastest time at the second passage control at 19.40 hrs (CET).