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This is the single-news section of the marathonrally.com news "Offroad & Motorsports". To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.









Dakar 2009: Cautious start by the Mitsubishi Team in Argentina.


The Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart started the challenge of getting its eighth consecutive victory in the Dakar with a cautious start on the first 371 Km special between Buenos Aires and Santa Rosa de la Pampa, in Argentina. Luc Alphand and his co-driver Gilles Picard, got the best result of the four Racing Lancer prepared by the Japanese team finishing 5th on the fisrt day. His teammates Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret were 6th, and Nani Roma and Lucas Cruz were 8th.

Unofficial estimates put the number of fans watching the the Dakar 2009 on Friday evening at over 500 000, the streets and avenues of the capital Buenos Aires overflowing with people. With the main straights full of people constantly taking photos and cheering on the competitors. Yesterday 530 vehicles left the closed park, set up in the La Rural exhibition centre, to cross the city and end up in the official starting point, the Obelisk on the Avenida 9 de Julio.

A fast, dusty leg was expected, perfect as a shakedown before entering Patagonia, the Andes and the Atacama desert over the next few days. The four Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart drivers started out cautiously, just as they had planned, and were already behind the leaders after the first control, with Hiroshi Masuoka and his co-driver Pascal Maimon in the lead. Roma was the best of the Repsol team at the second control – 10th – with Alphand and Peterhansel classified 11th and 13th. However, Masuoka then had problems, losing his 9th provisional place in the stage classification. The Japanese driver was suffering from a broken pulley on his engine and he had to stop after covering 190 Km, he was forced to wait for the assistance truck to repair the damage.

Tomorrow, Sunday, will be the longest of the rally, the stage is 837 Km long - between Santa Rosa de la Pampa and the touríst attraction of Puerto Madryn, capital of the Departament of Viedma in Patagonia, province of Chubut. The special will start close to the bivouac and will cover 237 Km through a complicated zone for navigation along a mix of fast gravel tracks and sand, with two controls. Most of the day will be spent on a tiring liaison of 600 Km across the Rio Negro, across the rivers Colorado and General Conesa, to end the day in Puerto Madryn close to the Atlantic coast, the Gulf of San Matias and the entry to the Valdes Peninsula.

Luc Alphand: "The main target today was not to lose too much time on the fast stage. Nasser (Al-Attiyah) drove very well and has a good top speed. I think we would have lost a lot a lot more time last year with the petrol-engined Pajero. We are here, but are all driving cautiously with the new engine. It is a long, long race and today’s stage was dusty and potentially dangerous. When you cannot see where you go in the dust it is always difficult. The car has excellent torque and handles very well. This new chassis is very good and it feels very stable at high speed."

Stéphane Peterhansel: "It is never easy to be the first car on the stage, especially the first stage of the Dakar, when we are the first crew to pass the bikes. After a few cars it is always easier. My rhythm was not so good, but the car was okay. The top speed could be higher, but I drove very safely this morning because it was dangerous in the dust and I preferred to start slowly. Tomorrow will be the same kind of stage, but maybe a little bit shorter. We need to wait. It will be a long liaison afterwards, but the stability is not so bad and we have a top speed of about 180 km/h. Maybe I drove a little too safe today."

Nani Roma: "It was not an easy day at all. There were a lot of bikes, lots of dust and it was easy to make a mistake. It was a case of getting the feeling for the pace and the new car. But, we are here, and tat is important. This car actually feels faster than the old car. It has more torque, but maybe we need a little more power at the top end. Tomorrow is another day, but we have a long way to go."

2009/01/03 | 23:46 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Repsol






















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