|OiLibya Rally of Morocco: X-raid´s Peterhansel and Cottret win in Morocco.|
Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret clinched an emphatic victory for the BMW X-raid team in the six-day OiLibya Rally of Morocco on Saturday. The French duo finished the punishing desert cross-country rally 55:28 minutes in front of team mates Leonid Novitskiy (RUS) and Andreas Schulz (D), as Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin finished third in their PKN Orlen-backed BMW X3 CC and completed a superb 1-2-3 finish for Sven Quandt’s team.
First day technical problems cost the French crew of Guerlain Chicherit and Michel Périn their chance of reaching the podium, but last year’s FIA World Cup winner was on the pace over the remaining five days and climbed back to finish fifth overall. Portugal’s Ricardo Leal De Santos and Paulo Fiúza were also delayed on stage one and recovered to finish seventh.
X-raid used the rally as a crucial test and development session for the 2011 Dakar and all team personnel attended a five-day pre-rally test around Zagora in Morocco.
"We had a very successful test with the entire team before the rally and I am obviously delighted with the result here," said X-raid’s team director Sven Quandt. "Our cars have been perfect and it was a great opportunity for the whole team to work together with the cars we will use for the Dakar. We were able to carry out around 3,000km with five of the cars and Stephan Schott joined us on the test and drove for around 500 kms."
"We were able to carry out a good shakedown, test a new Total oil that we will use on the Dakar and check electronic settings and car set-ups. Stéphane (Peterhansel) drove a superb, controlled race. He didn’t push hard. We wanted to conserve the cars and all went well. They are all in one piece. Now we are ready and raring to go on the Dakar."
Peterhansel surged into an 18:25 minutes lead on the opening 310 kms Foum Zguid special stage. Punctures hampered Novitskiy and Holowczyc, but the pair managed to finish the stage in second and third overall, comfortably clear of fourth-placed Patrick Sireyjol’s Buggy.
Chicherit was forced to stop with a broken turbo blade around 180km into the stage and dropped nearly four hours to his stage-winning team-mate. The Frenchman was classified in 34th overall. Leal De Santos stopped to assist his French colleague, was duly delayed and finished the stage in 32nd position.
A sea of sand dunes greeted crews for the second leg through the Chegaga erg. Two loops of 130km constituted the leg and Chicherit was quickly into a fast pace now that his first day troubles were behind him. He finished the 261km special 6:46 mns behind three-time Dakar winner Peterhansel, who extended his overall lead over Novitskiy to 33:22 mns.
The BMW X3 CCs controlled the day’s proceedings through the sand dunes, with Novitskiy setting the third fastest time and Holowczyc and Leal de Santos following behind in fourth and fifth places. The third 281kms section passed through the magnificent Maharch region of Morocco and the five BMW X3CCs were the class of the field once again, with Chicherit leading the charge with the fastest time of 02:27:04 hours.
Novitskiy set the second quickest time and Peterhansel - who was overtaken by the piste by Chicherit - consolidated his overall lead by coming in third after following behind Chicherit without the problems of dust after overnight rain. Holowczyc and Leal De Santos rounded off the top five on the stage.
Teams again crossed the Chegega erg during the fourth 321 kms special stage, which formed two loops of 160 kms on Thursday, October 21. Peterhansel beat Chicherit by over seven minutes to claim the fastest time and duly extended his overall lead over Novitskiy to 48:21 minutes.
The BMWs were in complete control and filled the top five positions on the day’s selective section. The result ensured that Holowczyc consolidated third position in the overall standings and Chicherit and Leal de Santos climbed to seventh and eighth overall after first day delays.
The penultimate 249 kms competitive section passed through the mountains to the east of Zagora in the area frequented by the Ait-Attas Berber tribe. It was Holowczyc’s turn to set his first fastest stage time for the BMW X-raid team.
The Pole beat Peterhansel by 1:54 minutes, but the Frenchman maintained a huge 53:44 minutes overall lead over Novitskiy. The Russian finished the special with the third fastest time after suffering early electrical problems. Chicherit dropped just under eight minutes to the stage-winning Pole and climbed to sixth overall at the expense of Frenchman Pierre Lachaume.
The final 158 kms section offered a combination of small dunes, fast tracks and tricky navigation before the finish in Zagora. There were no last minute dramas for the X-raid team and Peterhansel and Cottret set the fastest time to confirm their third Moroccan victory and a second successive win in their BMW X3 CC.
2010 OiLibya Rally of Morocco - final positions Cars Top 10
01) Peterhansel/Cottret (F/F) I BMW X3CC I 16:33:08
02) Novitskiy/Schulz (RUS/D) I BMW X3CC I 17:28:36
03) Holowczyc/Fortin (PL/B) I BMW X3CC I 17:31:26
04) Pelichet/Decre (F/F) I MD Buggy I 20:41:21
05) Chicherit/Périn (F/F) I BMW X3CC I 20:46:02
06) Sireyjol/Beguin (F/B) I Bowler Wildcat I 20:59:29
07) Leal De Santos/Fiúza (PT/PT) I BMW X3CC I 21:10:33
08) Lachaume/Schurger (F/F) I Bowler Wildcat I 21:20:21
09) Thomasse/Winocq (F/F) I MD Buggy I 21:41:03
10) Gallyamov/Nikolaev (RUS/RUS) I Mitsubishi Pajero I 23:27:08
2010/09/25 | 12:56 CET | EDITOR: MR/HS/X-RAID