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

Optic Tunisia: Revenge for Volkswagen at Optic Tunisia day One

Alphand, Peterhansel and Masuoka on one side, Sainz and De Villiers on the other; Mitsubishi against Volkswagen: Just three months after Dakar. The sweet smell of Revenge was in the air on the seafront at Nice, where more than 120 motorbike and car teams were put through the technical and administrative tests of the 25th Optic 2000 Tunisian rally. The rally starting this sunday morning, with a super special in the rear-countryside of Nice, before crossing to the African continent for an exciting week’s racing.

What a fine spectacle to see, the "Promenade des Anglais" overflowing with spectators cramming to see the rally stars place their vehicules in the closed park. The three Mitsubishi factory pajeros’ of Luc Alphand (winner of the last Dakar) and the current titleholder in Tunisia, Stéphane Peterhansel and of Hiroshi Masuoka had only just started the engines, that the masses of spectators were cheering the arrival of Volkswagens Race Touareg 2 teams led by Carlos Sainz and Giniel de Villiers.

Judging by the clapometer and all the autograph hunters, the "Bullfighter" had the edge. Still the recordholder where the WRC is concerned, with his 26 wins, and the winner of four stages of the Dakar, the Spainard will make the most of this first world cup leg in Africa to polish up on his desert skills. "I have come here to win", states he who, in a couple of weeks has become the team leader for VW . "I learnt a lot on the Dakar, but I still have a lot to learn. Along with Michel Périn , and the experienced team in the wings, all we have left to do, is to fine tune the car".

Having won for the first time, in January next to the Lac Rose, at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Pajero, Luc Alphand will be the man to beat on this 25th Tunisian rally, where as last year, the navigation will be without any GPS points. Only the road book to point the way. "I have had a very busy winter" says the Alpine star. Who only last month won at Por Las Pampas in Argentina, as his follow up to the Dakar. "I’ve spent only four days at home since Christmas. It won’t be easy to keep my title this time ,but I’d like to go for the hatrick. Due to the kms done in Argentina I should be able to find me feet quicker than the others". The winner of the last Tunisian will have to be on guard where the VW Touaregs are concerned, and his own team mates Peterhansel and Masouka (still frustrated after a non productive Dakar). But we mustn’t forget Jean-Louis Schlesser and the Ford Buggy still impressive at every outing. "We have reduced the measurements of the Buggy to coincide more with the fastest of the 4x4s, admits the local wizard, four times winner of the optic 2000 Tunisian rally. We are still working on the suspension units and if we don’t have any problems Look Out".

In the T2 category, non-modified, the fight will be between SDO Teams’ Mercedes ML (in morning at the loss of their general Director) and the Nissan Pathfinder of the former biker Christian Laveille.

Where the motorbikes are concerned, the return of the injured Spanish rider Isidre Esteve on the all new KTM 660 (lighter and more manoeuvrable) for Team Gauloises and the missing Cyril Despres KTM (following the death of a close friend) should make a stir. The Catalan who might be worried about the Norwegians Pal Anders Ullevalseter and Franck Olmi(KTM) will work in collaboration with his team mate David Casteu who on this super special will try to celebrate his 32nd birthday in style. Then it’s everyone on board, on an African heading for a very promising weeks racing.

To see the complete results after the special stage please visit the following links:

Standings Cars: [ ]

Standings Motos: [ ]

2006/04/10 I 14:18 CET I Editor:

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