QATAR'S AL-ATTIYAH TAKES 10th PLACE IN FIRST AFRICAN STAGE OF DAKAR RALLY Qatari star slips to 11th position; Frenchman Chicherit holds 15th into Er Rachidia ER RACHIDIA (Morocco): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain...
QATAR'S AL-ATTIYAH TAKES 10th PLACE IN FIRST AFRICAN STAGE OF DAKAR RALLY
Qatari star slips to 11th position; Frenchman Chicherit holds 15th into Er Rachidia
ER RACHIDIA (Morocco): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Alain Guehennec continued to shine for the X-Raid team as the competitors completed the first African special stage - a punishing 314 kms special between Nador and Er Rachidia on Monday.
The Qatari had started from eighth position in the overall standings and was third on the road this morning, sandwiched between the leading Mitsubishis of Luc Alphand and Joan Roma. He was running inside the top six through the opening passage control and rocked the establishment by being the first driver to appear at the second passage control with the stage victory at this disposal. He eventually finished 11th overall and held 10th place in the overall standings.
"It was a technical stage with a lot of dust and many bikes," said Al-Attiyah. "You built up speed and then have to slow down to overtake bikes. I ran close to Hiroshi Masuoka, Luc Alphand and Carlos Sainz and Masuoka passed me near the end when I decided to take it easier."
Spaniard Joan Roma and co-driver Henri Magne were the overall leaders of the Dakar Rally after the first special stage on African soil.
Sainz had begun the day 3m 45s ahead of the Mitsubishi of Frenchman Luc Alphand, but lost some time with a minor navigation problem.
Former enduro rider and current South African Off-Road champion Alfie Cox and co-driver Ralph Pitchford began the day in 21st position and followed former winner Kenjiro Shinozuka into the stage. Cox was classified 14th at the first passage control and had moved up to 12th on the road at PC2. He finished the stage in 15th position and climbed to 18th in the overall standings.
A collision with a fence had pushed Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel down into ninth place at the start of the day, but the Frenchman was able to follow the tracks of the Polish driver Kryzstof Holowczyc this morning. The Pole was eventually delayed before the start of the stage with electrical problems and Chicherit moved up from 21st at PC1 to 17th at PC2 and eventually finished the special in 20th place. He slipped to 15th in the overall standings after losing his way for a time early in the stage.
Spaniard Jose-Luis Monterde and co-driver Tiziano Siviero had made an inauspicious start to their Dakar Rally challenge and languished in the lower reaches of the forties at the start of the stage in the sole X-Raid-run BMW X5. He finished the stage in 29th position and now lies 29th overall.
"I am pleased wtih the way our drivers performed today," said X-Raid Team Director Sven Quandt. "There was no need to push so early in the rally and they all arrived in Er Rachidia without serious problems."
Major support for the X-Raid team comes from Corona Extra and Magna Steyr.
Today's stage began south of Nador and a liaison section guided crews into the overnight halt at Er Rachidia, formerly known as Ksar Es Souk. The city was named after the 17th century Alaouite chief Moulay Rachid.
Tuesday, January 3rd will mark the longest special stage of the event to date. It starts 56 kms from Er Rachidia, north of Erfoud, and finishing 197 kms from Ouarzazate, near the town of Tagounite. The 386 kms special offers a fine balance of twisty and rocky tracks, high-speed roads, laterite piste, and vast stretches of sand.