CHICHERIT SLIPS BACK TO 10TH OVERALL INTO TAMBACOUNDA Monterde maintains climb up leaderboard; Cox finishe stage in 15th place TAMBACOUNDA (Senegal): Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel began this morning's 348 kms...
CHICHERIT SLIPS BACK TO 10TH OVERALL INTO TAMBACOUNDA
Monterde maintains climb up leaderboard; Cox finishe stage in 15th place
TAMBACOUNDA (Senegal): Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel began this morning's 348 kms special stage between Labe and Tambacounda in second position on the road, sandwiched between the two drivers battling it out for a first Dakar Rally win. The Frenchman followed Luc Alphand into the stage, knowing full well that South Africa's Giniel de Villiers would be trailing in his dust.
"We thought we had a clutch problem at the end of the stage yesterday," said Chicherit. "But we checked the car last night in Labe, as there were no mechanics around on the Marathon stage, and it was just a small amount of fluid leaking."
Chicherit was running behind Alphand at the 150 kms point, but he lost 24 minutes to the first passage control point and the delay dropped him behind arch rival Thierry Magnaldi in the overall standings, as the Buggy driver unofficially regained ninth place.
Chicherit was 11th at PC1 and 13th into PC2 and finished the stage in 14th position, but will start Saturday's stage into Dakar in 10th overall, albeit well clear of Spaniard Carlos Sainz.
Alfie Cox and co-driver Ralph Pitchford had overcome yesterday's broken rear suspension and began today's stage in 32nd position on the road in their BMW X3 CC and had risen to 19th in the overall classification following the overnight retirement of the Belgian driver Stephane Henrard. They overcame the potential double dose of bad luck associated with the 13th stage running on Friday the 13th to take 15th place in the stage.
Spaniard Jose-Luis Monterde and co-driver Tiziano Siviero were 14th on the road this morning and up to 21st overall. They were 10th through the first passage control and completed the stage in 11th place with a time of 5h 02m 13s.
"We were fortunate that there was nothing serious wrong with two of our cars after the first half of the Marathon stage, so we were in good shape for this morning," said Team Director Sven Quandt. "We changed a couple of steering rods on Chicherit's car, but had to change a shock absorber and part of the suspension on Alfie's after the accident.
"I am very pleased with Jose-Luis's performance today. Guerlain had a small problem, maybe linked to the release bearing problem we had in Labe, but nothing too serious."
Major support for the X-Raid team comes from Corona Extra and Magna Steyr.
Saturday morning marks the last of the long stages on this year's Dakar Rally and takes crews to Dakar and within sight of the finish on Sunday. After a 107 kms liaison, the 254 kms special stage heads north and then in a westerly direction to a finish 273 kms from the coastal capital of Senegal. This stage has caused several problems in the past for surviving crews, as teams pass numerous crowded villages on a myriad of tracks where navigation and care are crucial.