X-RAID TEAMS DRIVE CHICHERIT TAKES STUNNING SPECIAL STAGE WIN INTO DAKAR Team mate Alfie Cox second fastest on penultimate stage DAKAR (Senegal): Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel began this morning's 14th stage of the...
X-RAID TEAMS DRIVE CHICHERIT TAKES STUNNING SPECIAL STAGE WIN INTO DAKAR
Team mate Alfie Cox second fastest on penultimate stage
DAKAR (Senegal): Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel began this morning's 14th stage of the 28th Dakar Rally in 14th place on the road after delays into Tambacounda. But they emerged from the final long African stage with a stunning stage win - the first for an X-raid driver since Luc Alphand won the stage between Ayoun-el-Atrous and Tidjikja in Mauritania in 2004.
Their time of 2h 36m 33s was also nearly 14 minutes quicker than that set by arch rival Thierry Magnaldi and Chicherit will now start the final stage on Sunday in ninth place in the overall standings.
"Yesterday I caught the dust of Luc Alphand in front and he could not hear me on the horn behind," said Chicherit. "I hit a rock hard and it completely wrecked my wheel and damaged the hub. We had to repair everything and it cost me about 20 minutes. It was so annoying because I lost ninth place to Magnaldi."
"But today is a fantastic result for me and the whole team after all the hard work the mechanics have put into the last two weeks."
Team mates Alfie Cox and co-driver Ralph Pitchford had begun the final long stage in 16th place in the overall standings and 15th on the road behind team mate Chicherit and ahead of Frenchman Phillipe Gache. But they set a stunning time of 2h 39m 46s in a second BMW X3 CC to take the second fastest time on the day's stage - their best ever performance in a car on the Dakar Rally.
After setting his best time of the event so far - the 11th fastest time between Labe and Tambacounda - Spaniard Jose-Luis Monterde and co-driver Tiziano Siviero tackled the stage behind twice former winner Jean-Louis Schlesser and ahead of Mark Miller's Volkswagen Touareg. He was delayed before the first passage control.
"This is a fantastic result for our team today," said X-Raid's Team Director Sven Quandt. "I must admit that I did not expect our cars to take a stage win, especially from the position they started this morning. Our X3 is getting better all the time and we were close to a stage win with Chicherit two days ago. Now he has a 44-second lead over Magnaldi and has no alternative but to push over those final kilometres on Sunday if he is to make sure of ninth place."
Major support for the X-Raid team comes from Corona Extra and Magna Steyr.
The event's traditional trademark finishing point in Dakar is a former Lebou and Wolof fishing village. Nowadays the city has a population of over two million and is a popular tourist centre and base for military, social and cultural communities.
Sunday is the final day of this year's Dakar Rally and offers a traditional sandy special stages en route to the finish at Lac Rose. The 31 kms stage begins 38 kms from the city center and offers a similar and varied route to last year, including the now famous run along the beach for the victorious teams.