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Baja Spain Aragon 2007 Special-Newssection (FIA Baja Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Baja Spain Aragon 2007, 2nd round of the FIA Worldcup for International Bajas. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Baja Spain: Mitsubishi´s pair ideally placed after Baja Prologue

Following Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart’s podium finish with Spaniard Joan ’Nani’ Roma (2nd) on June’s Rally Transiberico in Portugal, the team continues this weekend with the Baja Espana, the second round of the 2007 FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.

The 1,461.92km event got underway this evening with a short spectator showpiece in the grounds of Madrid’s Jarama race-track, former home to the Spanish F1 Grand Prix. The hot weather attracted a sizeable crowd of spectators, many of whom had travelled from the nearby Spanish capital to watch the day’s action before the 122-strong field (cars) heads out for the real stages when the event starts in earnest tomorrow morning.

Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart’s Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (France) and Nani Roma/Lucas Cruz (Spain) completed the 4.5km all-gravel appetizer with the first and second fastest times respectively. It means they will tackle Friday’s stage in that order, which they see as an advantage given the difficulty competitors are likely to encounter when it comes to passing slower competitors.

"We have been seeded N°1, so we were the first to tackle today’s super-special after the bikers, but that turned out to be neither a handicap nor an advantage," observes Stéphane who hasn’t driven competitively since winning January’s Dakar. "Although it was very short, today’s run wasn’t as straightforward as all that. It could have been easy to make a mistake over what was a pretty challenging mix of chicanes, faster sections and jumps. The main thing was to keep it clean and I am reasonably pleased with our performance. Winning the stage means we will be first on the road tomorrow and that promises to be important because it won’t be easy to overtake. I think dust could well be a problem for those following further down the order, especially if the wind drops."

Nani Roma follows his French team-mate on tonight’s timesheets after securing the second quickest time of the evening. "The prologue went well for us," confirms the former biker who secured his first win on four wheels on this event with Mitsubishi in 2005 ahead of team-mate Peterhansel. "Today’s blast was very short, but it was the sort of stage where you could easily end up losing a lot of time if you made a mistake. One of the main difficulties was having to go straight into the stage from parc ferme with our brakes and tyres still cold, so it was preferable not to take any risks. I would perhaps have preferred to have started a little further down tomorrow’s order in order to be able pace myself on the likes of Stéphane and Colin McRae. That said, this isn’t the sort of event where you can take time to just sit back and observe. It promises to be three days of all-out attack, from start to finish!"

Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team director Dominique Serieys was equally happy with the evening’s result which indicates that the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions are likely to be competitive over the weekend’s 795.29km of timed stages. "In addition to start order, another important parameter when serious business begins tomorrow will be the weather," he reports.

"The current warm, sunny weather, with temperatures of a little more than 30°C, is expected to continue, as is the wind. Depending on which way it blows and where you’re running on the road, that could have a big influence. There is some talk of rain closer to Zaragoza but that’s something we definitely don’t want. The stage surfaces are quite compact on the whole but an extremely slippery top-film tends to form in the wet, making life hell for the drivers."

Tomorrow’s action will see crews tackle the first of the event’s four scheduled stages, a 188km test en route from Madrid to Friday evening’s overnight halt in Zaragoza, 320km north-east of the Spanish capital. The event finishes on Sunday July 22.

01) Peterhansel/Cottret I Mitsubishi MPR13 I 00:04:11.5 I 00:00:00
02) Roma/Cruz I Mitsubishi MPR13 I 00:04:15.9 I + 4.4
03) McRae/Thorner I X-Raid BMW X3CC I 00:04:17.0 I + 5.5
04) Moniz/Silva I Proto Dessoude I 00:04:18.4 I + 6.9
05) Gadasin/Mironenko I Nissan Navara I 00:04:19.0 I + 7.5
06) Fornasari/Michelis I Fornasari RR450 I 00:04:19.0 I + 7.5
07) Larini/Musacchia I Mitsubishi L200 I 00:04:23.3 I + 11.8
08) Campos/Freitas I Renault Megane I 00:04:29.2 I + 17.7
09) Gameiro/Figueiredo I Nissan Navara I 00:04:29.7 I + 18.2
10) Manfrinato/Innocenti I Renault Megane I 00:04:30.1 I + 18.6

2007/07/20 | 11:54 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Repsol

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