Stephane Peterhansel gives the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution/BFGoodrich one last victory! Driving a petrol version of the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel took victory in this week'sPAX Rally - the...
Stephane Peterhansel gives the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution/BFGoodrich one last victory!
Driving a petrol version of the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel took victory in this week'sPAX Rally - the second event of the newly-created Dakar Series 2008 - following a dramatic finale which saw him snatch victory from the grasp of Carlos Sainz (VW/BFGoodrich) who had topped the leaderboard since Day 2! Peterhansel and Sainz - who were split by just 16 seconds at the flag - were joined on the podium by Luc Alphand (3rd, Mitsubishi/BFGoodrich). The factory BFGoodrich teams used both of the two types of tyre made available to them by the American brand, namely the new All-Terrain and the Rock T/A.
Although Stephane Peterhansel and his co -driver Jean-Paul Cottret never actually topped the provisional standings of the inaugural PAX Rally, a new event based in southern and central Portugal, they were rarely very far from top spot. Going into the final 68km stage, today, they trailed Sainz by 31 seconds-- and succeeded in turning the tables on the Spaniard to clinch victory by a mere 16 seconds after almost 800km of competitive action.
The PAX Rally turned out to be a thrilling contest from start to finish, just as the Central Europe Rally - the first event to count towards the Dakar Series - had been in April. Indeed, after two stages totalling 424km over narrow, twisty and hard-wearing mountain tracks between Lisbon and Castelo Branco, Luc Alphand and Carlos Sainz parked up on Thursday evening exactly level in first place!
The following day, however, saw the Spaniard go clear at the top as the event moved on to sandier terrain where the Mitsubishi Pajeros suffered in terms of traction against the latest Race Touareg/BFGoodrich and BMW X3 CC/BFGoodrich diesel-powered prototypes.
Against expectations, Saturday provided a further twist, though, as Stephane Peterhansel and Luc Alphand posted the top two times on the penultimate stage between Alcochete and Portimao, enabling the former to close to within 31 seconds of Sainz, while the latter managed to shake off the challenge of Giniel de Villiers (VW/BFGoodrich) in his scrap for third place.
The outcome of the duel between Peterhansel and Sainz was only decided today on the final stage which was held up because of a nearby forest fire. The organisers chose to neutralise the first part of SS6, and the test finally started at Passage Control 1 (Km31). Some 21km into the stage, Carlos Sainz enjoyed a cushion of 45s over his French rival, but the Spaniard then had an uncustomary lapse of concentration and rolled, losing almost a minute. Stephane Peterhansel pounced on the opportunity to celebrate the final competitive outing of the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution with a victory before the Japanese machine hands over to the firm's brand new diesel -engined prototype - the Racing Lancer - which is due to spearhead its entry on the 2009 Dakar.
Third place for early leader Alphand enabled Mitsubishi to finish with two cars on the podium, although his team-mate Roma fell from contention following a roll on Leg 4. The PAX Rally served as a full- scale dress rehearsal for the forthcoming Dakar, since Mitsubishi and Volkswagen are not expected to clash again until the start of the celebrated marathon next January in South America. This week's event enabled the BMW/BFGoodrich team to confirm the progress it has shown over the past year and Nasser Al-Attiyah concluded the rally by picking up the fastest time on the final stage.
Dominique Bravy (BFGoodrich Rally-Raid Technician): "The PAX Rally regulations permitted teams to choose between two types of tyre, and that was perfect both for us and our partners to carry out comparison tests in a competitive context. The new All-Terrain and the Rock T/A it succeeds each won three stages with our three factory partners, Mitsubishi, VW and BMW. The All-Terrain came out on top on the harder-packed surfaces, while the Rock T/A was at its best over the sandier terrain. We will now make a detailed review of this week's results in collaboration with our partner teams before continuing the development of the All-Terrain during further testing in October."