CHICHERIT REMAINS IN CONTENTION AFTER FINAL MAURITANIAN STAGE Qatar's Al-Attiyah pulls out of Dakar Rally; Clutch problems for Cox KIFFA (Mauritania): Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel were in flying form on the ...
CHICHERIT REMAINS IN CONTENTION AFTER FINAL MAURITANIAN STAGE
Qatar's Al-Attiyah pulls out of Dakar Rally; Clutch problems for Cox
KIFFA (Mauritania): Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel were in flying form on the Nouakchott to Kiffa special. Starting from 38th place on the road in a rebuilt car, the Frenchman was seventh fastest into the first PC and a mere 15 seconds slower than third-placed South African driver Giniel de Villiers through the second passage control at the 205 kms point. He held 12th at PC3 on Monday evening en route to the overnight bivouac in Kiffa.
The South African pairing of Alfie Cox and co-driver Ralph Pitchford were 22nd into PC1 and up to 19th at PC2, but they were badly delayed with clutch problems thereafter and were forced to wait for the assistance truck to effect repairs in the stage.
Spaniard Jose-Luis Monterde and Italian co-driver Tiziano Siviero were classified 54th into the first passage control and moved up a place at PC2, but minor electrical gremlins set in soon after and the pair were delayed en route to Kiffa.
Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec decided to withdraw from the 28th Dakar Rally at the rest day in Nouakchott. The defending Middle East champion had shown an impressive pace from the start of the 15-day African classic, but had lost ground on the leaders over the last few days because of clutch and engine problems.
He had arrived at the bivouac in Nouakchott late on Saturday evening and the X-Raid mechanics were convinced that his engine could be repaired in time to take the start of Monday's special stage between Nouakchott and Kiffa. But a shattered Nasser decided that he was too far back to continue.
"We have not been able to have a clear run for a few days since the engine problem in Morocco," said Nasser. "The mechanics are tired and have worked very long hours on the car. Each day we have started and then been forced to stop for assistance since the engine problem. The car is not running properly and it is putting additional strain on the team each day, when they could be concentrating on the other three cars in our team. I think I proved that we have the speed and the ability to win the Dakar and that the car has great potential. But it was not meant to be this year. I am disappointed, but we will see in the future."
"It was not a good day for us today," said X-Raid Director Sven Quandt. "But I still hope that we can get Chicherit into the top 10 at the finish and I am sure that our assistance truck will be able to repair Alfie's car."
Major support for the X-Raid team comes from Corona Extra and Magna Steyr.
Kiffa is the capital of the Assaba region of western Mauritania and is renowned for being the centre of the regional pearl industry.
On Tuesday morning the event resumes with a tiny liaison section to the start of a 283 kms special stage across the border into the Islamic Republic of Mali. The nature of the terrain begins to change, with dunes and sandy wastelands giving way to savannah, bushland, thicker vegetation and fast laterite piste. The arrival in Black Africa is completed by a 49 kms road liaison section to the bivouac in Kayes.