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OiLibya Rally 2009 Special-Newssection (FIA Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the OiLibya Rally 2009, second round of the FIA Worldcup for Cross Country Rallys. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

OiLibya Rally: Despres and Chicherit win OiLibya prologue.

On arriving on the African continent the competitors on the 27th Rally OiLibya de Tunisie were more than a little surprised to encounter such ‘European’ weather. Rain and low cloud have hung over Tunis since their arrival, though the sun miraculously came out just a few minutes before the first bike tackled the Super Special on the beach at Gammarth.

Despite its short distance, just 5 kilometres, the competitors preferred not to take any chances, conscious that 4500 kilometres still lay ahead of them. On the bikes it was the Frenchman Cyril Despres who posted the fastest time ahead of Jordi Viladoms and Olivier Pain, the 2008 winner. In the cars victory went to Guerlain Chicherit, who finished just ahead of another BMW X3, that of Leonid Novitskiy. Pascal Thomasse was third in his buggy in front of Christian Lavieille and his Proto Dessoude. In the quad class Lionel Laine showed who was the boss, posting the 11th fastest time overall.

First kilometres against the clock and first moments of pleasure for the competitors entered on the 27th Rally OiLibya de Tunisie. On the beach at Gammarth the rain stopped just as the first competitor took the start - and the sun even put in a brief appearance.

On the bikes Cyril Despres took the win without attacking too hard. On his factory KTM the Frenchman won by 18 seconds over the Spaniard Jordi Viladoms, while the 2008 winner Olivier Pain came in third ahead of the Pole Jakub Przygonski. Marc Coma and David Casteu were fifth and sixth respectively, while Francisco Lopez ran into electrical problems and only managed 20th place. In the quad class Lionel Laine won comfortably ahead of Karim Dilou and Camelia Liparoti, the Italian lady rider suffering a big fright on leaving the parc ferme when her machine briefly caught fire.

In the cars X-Raid BMW pulled off a ‘one-two’ with the recent winner of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Guerlain Chicherit placing ahead of Leonid Novitskiy and the impressive buggy of Pascal Thomasse, who apparently benefitted from his on foot reconnaissance. Just 1 second behind Thomasse, Christian Lavielle put his Proto Dessoude ahead of Orlando Terranova in the third BMW X3, while first time out in his MPR13, Nicolas Misslin took 6th ahead of Jean-Louis Schlesser.

In the production category Francois Lethier and his Toyota placed ahead of the Nissan Pathfinder of Joseph Rosso and the Mitsubishi of Christian Barbier. The gaps however are tiny and the race has only just started. In the trucks Richard Gonzalez finished ahead of Frederic Coudereau and Alain Coquelle. In the Open Class, Fred Alard enjoyed himself at the wheel of his SSV on a track that could have been made for his single seater buggy.

For tomorrow the stage taking the competitors to the bivouac at Oued Mellah has been modified. Due to the heavy rain that has fallen these last few days in the north of Tunisia, only the last 60 of the original 250 kilometre special will be run against the clock.

2009/04/23 | 01:29 CET | Editor: MR/HS/NPO

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