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Central Europe Rally Special-Newssection (1st round Dakar-Series 2008)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Central Europe Rally 2008, the first round of the new Dakar-Series. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Central Europe Rally: Mixed fortunes for X-Raid BMW in Veszprem.

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah’s push towards a podium position in the Central Europe Rally was ruined by electrical problems after 11km of the first stage of the fifth leg of the Central Europe Rally, which featured two timed selective sections in the Veszprém region of Hungary on Thursday.

But his AlgoDyne Green Racing team mates Guerlain Chicherit and Bruno Saby both put in strong performances on the fifth leg of the first round of the new Dakar Series and remained in contention at the end of the day’s action, with Saby and co-driver Alain Guehennec rising to seventh overall.

Today’s leg consisted of a pair of 157km and 54km special stages to the north-east and south-west of Veszprém, the first test being the longest of the entire rally, centred around a former military base near the city. The terrain was varied and offered several fast sections and other more difficult stretches through woodland. Al-Attiyah had the bit between his teeth and was confident that he could eat into Peterhansel’s 3m 35s overall lead over the longer first stage, as the leaders bunched up to set up the prospect of a thrilling final three days.

South African Giniel de Villiers was three seconds quicker than American Robbie Gordon at the first passage control, but Al-Attiyah was plagued by an electrical sensor problem and it cost the Qatari a fantastic opportunity of moving into the top three.

"About 11km into the stage we had a problem with an electronic sensor and it cost us a great chance to push for the podium," said Al-Attiyah. "The stage was really nice and I felt confident that we could go a good job, not just for the podium but also for the win. We tried to repair the damage after the stage in time for the next two days, but there was some damage to the timing wheel."

Chicherit, co-driven by Matthieu Baumel, and Saby held sixth and 11th at the first PC and went on to reach the finish of the first stage in fourth and 10th places, as De Villiers crashed out of a potential stage win and handed the award to Gordon. Spaniard Carlos Sainz found himself a mere three seconds in front of Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel in the overall classification and Saby rose to eighth for X-raid. The second 54km special stage was won by Peterhansel, with Saby and Chicherit taking eighth and 10th positions. The Frenchman duly headed into the overnight halt 22 seconds in front of Sainz in the overall standings, but Gordon was sidelined with brake problems.

"It was a big shame that Nasser could not continue, because he was well-placed for the big attack this morning," admitted X-raid team director Sven Quandt. "The crankshaft sensor failed and this caused some damage to the timing wheel and we cannot repair it in time for him to start on Friday. But Bruno is well placed now for a good finish and Guerlain can push harder on the next two days, because he cannot get back into the top 10. Three of the top 10 had problems today, such has been the nature of the event."

Tomorrow (Friday) teams will tackle the second Veszprém loop section, which begins with an 11km link section to the start of the repeat of Thursday’s 157km special stage. A short liaison then takes teams into a repeat of the 54km special from the previous day and on to the final overnight halt. The Central Europe Rally will reach a conclusion near the shores of the lake tomorrow (Saturday).

2008/04/24 | 17:21 CET | Editor: MR/MR/X-Raid

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