PETERHANSEL AND ALPHAND MAINTAIN TEAM REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART'S FIRST AND SECOND PLACES AS EVENT ARRIVES IN DAKAR Peterhansel takes 7m 16s advantage over Alphand into final 16km stage. Roma clouts a tree stump but maintains 13th overall; ...
PETERHANSEL AND ALPHAND MAINTAIN TEAM REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART'S FIRST AND SECOND PLACES AS EVENT ARRIVES IN DAKAR
Peterhansel takes 7m 16s advantage over Alphand into final 16km stage. Roma clouts a tree stump but maintains 13th overall; Masuoka solid in sixth Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart arrived in the Sénégalese capital of Dakar firmly in command of the 29th Dakar Rally, after the penultimate special stage between Tambacounda and Dakar on Saturday.
The French duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret began the last of the longer African special stages 11m 15s ahead of team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard and maintained the overall lead, despite the fact that Alphand reduced their overall advantage to 7m 16s on the special.
Today's stage offered many potential last minute pitfalls as it wound its way through populated areas and over tricky parallel tracks where accurate navigation was of paramount importance and there were numerous speed checks. Only 136 bikes, 109 cars and 60 trucks survived to take the start of the special. Neither of the overall leaders had any intention of pushing too hard and it was no surprise that a third successive stage win eventually fell to Spaniard Carlos Sainz. Alphand and Peterhansel eventually finished the stage in seventh and 11th positions, but head into Sunday's short competitive finale in a very strong position to extend Mitsubishi's six-year winning streak - third with Repsol - on the Dakar. Hiroshi Masuoka and Pascal Maimon began the stage 15th on the road and were classified 10th at the PC checkpoint. They eventually reached the stage finish in 13th position. Spaniards Joan 'Nani' Roma and Lucas Cruz started eighth in the running order this morning, but lost 10 minutes before the passage control, slipped to 27th on the stage and eventually finished in 26th position. Roma maintains 13th overall.
Tomorrow (Sunday) should have marked the first time that the Lac Rose section had not counted as a competitive Dakar stage. The special was to have run as a televised Grand Prix-style shoot-out between the leading teams and not counted for the overall classification. But event organisers decided to reinstate the traditional special and teams will tackle a nail-biting 16km of competitive action before the traditional podium finale.
"It's a little frustrating for me to be second into Dakar, but it has been like this for the last few days. Nevertheless it has been a great all-round team performance. I am very happy to reach Dakar. It was quite a strange stage this morning. There were 17 speed restriction zones and that made the navigation easier, because we were driving slower and there was a waypoint every five or six kilometres. Tomorrow is the beach and, hopefully, we will have a party with our friends at the podium."
"I feel really happy to reach Dakar, but I was very nervous this morning. Last year the navigation was not easy and we lost 20 minutes. It was not easy to find a good speed this morning. The track was not clear. It was possible to lose time so I started slowly. Marc Miller and Carlos Sousa passed me. On the second part of the stage we lost the track for a couple of minutes and I was very nervous. The speed restrictions helped us a lot. My eyes were always on the trip to check we were not going too fast."
"No problems for me today. There were a lot of trees on the track and I just wanted to reach Dakar without problems and do my part for the team."
"We hit a low tree stump quite hard in a forest on my side of the car about 40km into the stage and it damaged the power steering. I also hurt my thumb in the steering wheel and it was very painful to finish the stage and drive the liaison."
Dominique Serieys, Repsol Mistubishi Ralliart Sporting Director
"My feeling is that it is not yet over. We will see tomorrow around midday after the last stage. I am very proud of our entire team that we have reached Dakar. Team work has been superb again this year."