MITSUBISHI'S JOAN ROMA REACHES BUENOS AIRES IN 10TH POSITION IN DAKAR RALLY Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart's Joan 'Nani' Roma and Lucas Cruz Senra (both Spain) completed the final 227km special stage of the 2009 Dakar Rally, between C?rdoba and...
MITSUBISHI'S JOAN ROMA REACHES BUENOS AIRES IN 10TH POSITION IN DAKAR RALLY
Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart's Joan 'Nani' Roma and Lucas Cruz Senra (both Spain) completed the final 227km special stage of the 2009 Dakar Rally, between C?rdoba and Buenos Aires, in fourth position on Saturday morning.
But additional time penalties imposed by event officials on crews that had not completed the 12th leg into La Rioja on Thursday evening, ultimately demoted Roma from sixth to 10th overall. The Mitsubishi 'Racing Lancer' driver duly incurred 10 hours of time penalties.
From the original 530 starters, 129 bikes and quads, 92 cars and 55 trucks were permitted to start the final stage into Buenos Aires, but the ASO had been busy imposing further time penalties on some crews overnight, including Roma.
He was the first driver on to the fast, pampas-style special stage on Saturday morning, but it was not an advantage to open the road and he trailed Guerlain Chicherit (France) by 10 seconds at the first passage control point at 88km and held a virtual third on the stage. He slipped to fifth at the 140km point (PC2) and went on to record the fourth fastest time.
Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) set the fastest time on the final stage to confirm his first Dakar win, with an 8m 59s winning margin over Mark Miller (USA).
Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart had lost three of its four turbo-diesel 'Racing Lancers' earlier in the race. Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan) and Pascal Maimon (France) were sidelined with an engine pulley bolt failure, an illness for co-driver Gilles Picard (France) forced Luc Alphand (France) to retire the second car and engine-related problems forced Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret (both France) out of the rally on the stage before the crossing into Chile last week.
There will be no competitive action tomorrow (Saturday), but surviving crews will take part in the much-vaunted ceremonial finish at La Rural in downtown Buenos Aires. Over half a million people attended the ceremonial start on Friday, January 2nd and an even greater number are anticipated at the finish, such has been the interest shown by the local Argentinean and Chilean population in this year's Dakar Rally.
WHAT THEY SAID...
Joan 'Nani' Roma "I would like to have finished higher, but the important thing was to finish after the problem we had a few days ago. I have arrived in Buenos Aires and that is because the team behind me worked really, really hard. The car was perfect yesterday and today and is getting better all the time. The handling, the suspension, it is perfect.
"I know how much work goes into making four cars for the Dakar and, when I arrived in Valparaiso, I knew that there was only me running and it was up to me to keep the team going. No-one in the team lost any motivation and they all continued to push. Yesterday, I told myself that I needed to push, push, push to try and win the stage. I took some risks yesterday, but the stage win was for everyone in the team.
"Today was not easy. I exploded (puncture) a tyre on the back after CP1 and finished the stage much more slowly. It was important to reach Buenos Aires today. That was the goal."
Lucas Cruz Senra "A good finish for us - top 10! For me, this event has been very hard. The temperatures have been very high and the weather has been very difficult. The car has great potential and will be superb when we have worked more on the development. I think it was too much to ask to come up with an answer after two weeks on the rally.
"Today was a straightforward stage. It was very fast. We had one puncture at about km100, but the rest was okay."
MIROSLAV ZAPLETAL COMPLETES DAKAR RALLY IN SEVENTH POSITION
Miroslav Zapletal (Czech Republic) produced a sensational performance on the 2009 Dakar Rally and confirmed seventh in the overall rankings with 12th place on the final special stage to Buenos Aires at the wheel of his Mitsubishi L200.
An extra 10 hours' of time penalties were imposed on numerous teams who missed the final section of the stage into La Rioja. These were added at the bivouac in C?rdoba before the final stage.
One beneficiary of penalties for other drivers was Jean De Azevedo (Brazil), who started the final stage in 20th overall. Toni Van Deijne (Netherlands), on the other hand, slipped to 27th from 21st and Mana Pornsiricherd (Thailand) held 73rd in his Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
De Azevedo eventually finished in 23rd position, after losing two hours on the final stage into Buenos Aires, while Van Deijne maintained 27th in his Mitsubishi L200. Jerome Hardy (France) finished 34th, Ilya Kuznetsov (Russia) overcame a roll earlier in the rally to take 37th and Christian Barbier (France) was 49th.
Other Mitsubishi finishers included Laszlo Liszi (Hungary) in 52nd, Riccardo Garosci (Italy) in 55th, Henrique Pichini (Brazil) in 65th and Nuno Pedro Inocencio (Portugal), who finished 66th overall. Pornsiricherd eventually finished the final stage in 17th place, but time penalties earlier in the event pushed the Mitsubishi Thailand-backed driver down to 73rd overall.
Stephan Schott (Germany) and Alexey Berkut (Russia) finished 74th and 78th in their Mitsubishis and Jerome Laraignou (France) brought up the rear of the Japanese entries with 85th overall.