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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: Peterhansel in second place for Mitsubishi Team.

The penultimate day of the 2008 Central Europe Rally continued at the same fast and furious pace that has marked this new event since the beginning of the week. However, it turned out to be a little less successful leg for Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart: Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (France) have lost the lead they have held practically non-stop since Monday after dropping an estimated 40 seconds on this morning's test, although only 18 seconds separate the French pair from the new leader, Carlos Sainz, this evening. The fight is far from over!

The scrap is proving just as close for third place, too, since Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard are up to fourth place this evening, just seven seconds adrift of Depping (Germany). The bad news for Mitsubishi today, however, is the loss of Nani Roma and Lucas Cruz (Spain) who were forced out with a mechanical problem while running in third position this morning.

"It's turning out to be a very close thing and the pace is exceptionally fast, so to have two cars still in the fight for top places on the last day against a field of such talented drivers is particularly gratifying," says Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys (France). "It says so much for the potential and reliability of the Pajero/Montero Evolution, especially against the new generation of cross-country rally-raid cars, but also for the ability and cool-headedness of our drivers. I am obviously disappointed for Nani but that's the sort of thing that can happen when it gets this fast. Tomorrow, Stéphane and Luc will both be looking to gain a place. It's in their hands now, and all I can say is: 'May the best man win!'"

Ironically, St?phane Peterhansel lost the majority of his time today in the dust of his team-mate, Luc Alphand. "I caught Luc after about 100km into this morning's stage and I couldn't get past, so I had to sit in his dust and I reckon that must have cost us around half a minute," reckons Peterhansel. "This afternoon, I did everything I could to make up for the lost time. I took as many risks as I dared and it ended up paying because we have cut the deficit back down to 18 seconds, and Jean-Paul and I will give it everything we can tomorrow to try to get back ahead of Carlos."

The morning stage took place in bright warm weather, but the conditions turned colder in the afternoon, and there was even a little rain as Luc Alphand did his utmost to pass Depping in the overall standings. "We've got nobody on our heels behind us on the leaderboard now, and Depping is seven seconds ahead," explained the Frenchman. "Our choice for tomorrow is simple: either we just sit back and cruise home to fourth place or we give it everything we can to try and finish on the podium. Believe me; I have every intention of going for the second option! We went straight on into the woods at one point on this afternoon's stage and that must have cost us perhaps ten seconds, otherwise we might have been on the podium tonight. But at the pace we're going, you've got to expect this sort of incident because this is the fastest cross-country rally I've ever contested! I'm obviously sorry to have held up St?phane this morning."

Today's main loser in the Mitsubishi camp was Nani Roma who was going well in his bid to defend his overnight podium position until he was forced to retire with a broken right-hand steering tie-rod with about 40km of the long stage remaining. "It happened at about 50/60kph, so at least we've got that to be thankful for," said the Spaniard. "It was a fast stage and it could have been a very different story altogether at 120kph. I have to say, though, that I didn't feel total happy with the handling of my car up to that point, but I think I could have kept third place. On the positive side, it's been a challenging and very interesting rally. The car came through some extremely tough conditions extremely well indeed and our performance this week on such a closely fought event has left me feeling optimistic for the rest of the season. The first class job put in by everyone in the team has a chance of being rewarded by a top result for Stéphane and/or Luc tomorrow and I will be following that very closely indeed"

2008/04/22 | 23:01 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Mitsubishi

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