SUPERB PERFORMANCE OF MARC COMA IN THE TENTH STAGE OF THE 2007 LISBON DAKAR RALLY 2007 The Repsol rider and leader of the overall standings, sets the second fastest time of the Nema-Nema loop stage behind Portuguese rider Rodrigues The 2007...
SUPERB PERFORMANCE OF MARC COMA IN THE TENTH STAGE OF THE 2007 LISBON DAKAR RALLY 2007
The Repsol rider and leader of the overall standings, sets the second fastest time of the Nema-Nema loop stage behind Portuguese rider Rodrigues The 2007 Dakar Rally continues in Africa at a high pace and the tenth and last stage in Mauritania was raced today. Tomorrow, the caravan of participants, service crews and journalists will cover a liaison between Nema and Ayoun, thus enjoying a new break after the rest day in Atar. The changes made by the ASO for safety reason has lead to the cancellation of the special prepared for tomorrow which has been replaced by a liaison of 280 km through Mauritania. The first rider to leave the bivouac tomorrow at 11.00 a.m. will be the winner of today's stage Rodrigues. On the day after tomorrow, Thursday, the 2007 Lisbon Dakar Rally will leave Mauritania to spend the night in Kayes, Mali, after the 257-km special to be raced between Ayoun and Kayes.
It's been a positive stage for the leader of the overall standings and only representative left of the Repsol KTM Team. He has been able to keep his 54-minute advantage over the second classified rider, Frenchman Cyril Despres. Coma, who started third today behind Despres, had an incident-free special, and despite catching up with the Frenchman, the large amount of dust over the Mauritanian tracks made him decide not to take any risks and let him go some seconds ahead. Coma finally managed to increase his advantage over Despres in the overall standings by seven seconds.
"The stage has been a bit more complicated than expected today. We have raced on very sandy tracks, funny to ride but at the same time very demanding. I started third today and was able to catch-up with Cyril, but he opened a gap due to the dust and in the end the difference hasn't been too big. The most important is that we have another day behind us and since the track was completely sandy, quite fast in some sections and more technical in others with trees along the road, it was important to be careful. The most important is however that we've been through Mauritania without problems and that we are fulfilling our aims. Now we're entering black Africa and a new race starts. We will have to be watchful and focussed in order to avoid any mistake. There are three stages left to Dakar and we are in a good position. Moreover, tomorrow will be a kind of a rest day which will also be good for us."
Jordi Arcarons, Repsol KTM Team Manager
"Now we're leaving the hardest and longest stages in Mauritania behind us and we will enter black Africa, the area of the savannah, but the race will be as complicated as always. Despite leading the rally with an advantage of almost an hour you can never consider it a victory or celebrate it and we cannot be too optimistic either. We know that anything can happen at any time, not only with the machine. The tracks we are going to follow from now on are the typical tracks that link villages, meaning that there will be lots of animals, so you have to be extremely careful. An animal may cross the road at any time and spoil everything in a single moment. Marc is controlling the race very well so far, without letting himself go or being cheated by any kind of strategy of his rivals. At this point of the race, our rival teams have their four members, while we have only one left. But even so I see Marc really sober, big."
TEAM REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART MAINTAIN IRON GRIP ON DAKAR RALLY AFTER NEMA LOOP STAGE
Peterhansel edges further ahead of team mate Alphand in overall standings. Japan's Masuoka sets second fastest time to consolidate fifth; Roma eighth Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart maintained firm control of the 29th Dakar Rally, after the 366km loop stage around the Néma bivouac in Mauritania on Tuesday. All four Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions reached the bivouac without any problems or without the drivers taking any risks, but Stéphane Peterhansel's and Jean-Paul Cottret's fourth fastest time means they head into the 11th stage on Thursday, 9m 56s ahead of team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard in the overall standings. Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah clinched his first ever Dakar Rally stage win, with Mitsubishi's Hiroshi Masuoka in second place.
Alphand and Picard began the special behind Jean-Louis Schlesser's Buggy, as they attempted to reduce Peterhansel's 7m 50s overall lead. But Peterhansel had extended his advantage by 1m 41s at the 186km point and, despite following the defending champion for much of the special caught. He passed Alphand near the end. Hiroshi Masuoka and Pascal Maimon began the stage in fifth overall and were the fastest of the four Mitsubishi crews at PCs one and two, 1m 22s ahead of Peterhansel at the 259km point. The Japanese reached the finish in second position to consolidate fifth overall. Joan 'Nani' Roma and Lucas Cruz began the 10th stage in 13th position in the overall standings, after Carlos Sainz had been reinstated in the results in 10th place. Roma was seventh fastest through PC1 and eventually finished the stage in eighth to retain 13th place.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) will be an enforced rest day on the 29th Dakar Rally, the lack of competition brought about by the curtailment of competition between Néma and Timbuktu. Instead, teams will drive on a 280km liaison section from Néma to Ayoûn-el-Atroûs and competitive action will restart on Thursday morning.
"We caught Luc after about 150km and we stayed behind him in the dust and the soft sand. Then, in an off-road section, we passed him about 10km from the end. But I drove more than 200km in the dust. It was not very comfortable. Today's stage was not too fast and on a sandy track. It was not too hard, but we will see completely different terrain in the next few days and this was not very kind to me last year, so we will see."
"We had orders to preserve our cars this morning and, when we passed Schlesser, it was not easy to be the first car on the road. It is not easy to find a good pace. We will try again over the next few stages without taking any risks. Stéphane will be ahead of us on the next stage, so it will be a little easier."
"It was an enjoyable stage, driving in between the small trees. It was difficult to overtake the bikes, because the riders were not able to leave the main track. For that reason we needed to be extra careful. When I caught Stéphane and Luc, I followed them and stayed behind to the stage finish without taking any risks."
"We lost about a minute and a half with a tiny navigational mistake, but everything else was okay. After that I drove very carefully to make sure I did not break the car. The plan now is to follow the first two cars and stay in contact with them. The new partnership with Lucas is working well."
Dominique Serieys (Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Sporting Director)
"Today's stage was very different to the last two Marathon days. It was not necessary to create a big fight by pushing. We have a cushion now and around 850km of special stages still to run. After the liaison tomorrow we will see. There is still some way to go. Hiroshi and 'Nani' are now working to support our two lead drivers."