|Dakar 2010: Peterhansel loses Rally lead on SS5 in Chile.|
Team X-raid Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret endured a disappointing fifth stage of the 2010 Dakar Rally between Copiapó and Antofagasta in Chile on Wednesday. The French duo began the day with a 7:36 mns advantage in the general classification in their BMW X3CC, but were forced to stop on two occasions during the stage with a broken prop shaft and the dream of winning the Dakar together for a fourth time was over.
Stéphane had dropped two hours and four minutes to the leading driver after 339km of the stage and was struggling to the stage finish in two-wheel drive as the leading crews arrived in Antofagasta on Wednesday afternoon. He eventually finished the stage in 33rd place.
"It is obviously very disappointing for the whole team," said X-raid team director Sven Quandt. "Stéphane was driving superbly and then we have this unfortunate mechanical problem. This was a new prop shaft that we had fitted last night and it failed after 120km today. It is so difficult to drive this stage in two-wheel drive and just reaching the finish without dropping too much time is an achievement in itself."
Guerlain Chicherit and Tina Thõrner started the longest stage of the event so far from 12th position on the road and managed to secure the sixth fastest time in their BMW X3 CC. They move up from 11th to eighth in the overall standings.
Russia’s Leonid Novitskiy and German co-driver Andreas Schulz began the day in 18th place in the overall standings and the 10th fastest time saw them climb into 13th overall in the third Trebur-built BMW X3 CC
The fifth stage began at Inca del Ora and included four passage controls before finishing 97km from Antofagasta. X-raid crews held fourth, ninth and 11th trough the first rocky and stony 53km, with Peterhansel trailing stage leader Sainz by 53 seconds. The Frenchman began to lose touch with the leading trio over the subsequent kilometres and trailed stage leader Miller by 4m 20s at the 123km mark. He was then forced to stop with a broken prop shaft at the 135.5km point on stony terrain and duly slipped off the leader board. He eventually passed the checkpoint 1h 03m behind Miller.
Miller, Sainz and Giniel de Villiers took up the running at the front of the field, with X-raid’s Chicherit in seventh position - 5m 55s behind the leading American - and Novitskiy in a virtual 14th, although the Russian climbed to 12th after 187km. Peterhansel continued to lose time to the leaders and was 1h 19m behind at the checkpoint.
The Frenchman was forced to stop again for over 25 minutes with ongoing drive problems after 215km and reached the 244km point, 1h 53m behind the stage leader. It was a disappointing end to a brave challenge for outright victory for Peterhansel, Cottret and the X-raid team.
2010/01/06 | 23:15 CET | Editor: MR/HS/N.Perkins