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PAX Rally: Al-Attiyah climbs to fifth overall for X-raid.

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner climbed to fifth overall for the AlgoDyne Green Power Racing Team, after the penultimate leg of the Pax Rally between Alcochete and Portimao in Portugal on Saturday.

Team mates, Guerlain Chicherit and Matthieu Baumel, lost 16 minutes with a lack of power steerling in the stage, but remained in ninth place, as X-raid Portugal’s Filipe Campos and Jaime Baptiste set the sixth quickest time to retain seventh overall. Argentinean Orlando Terranova and French co-driver Alain Guehennec were seventh quickest in their BMW X3 CC.

Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel set the fastest time on the day’s 159km special stage, but Spanish rival Carlos Sainz retains a slender 31-second overall lead over the stage winner heading into the final special on the Algarve on Sunday morning.

“It was a bit frustrating today,” said X-raid’s team director Sven Quandt. “Nasser moved up to fifth place but he was not able to push. We still have some development work to do with the new suspension. We need to get the settings right for this type of stage. Guerlain had no power steering and that cost him time, but Campos and Terranova drove very well and set two good times.”

“The stage on Sunday is short and there is nothing really to fight for now. There is always an element of luck on the last day, so we will be careful and try and make no mistakes. I am sure that there will be a fight at the head of the leader board though!”

The X-raid team drivers began Saturday’s penultimate stage from second, fourth, eighth and ninth positions, with Leonid Novitskiy restarting in 37th overall from the remaining 40 cars once the damaged to his BMW X3 CC had been repaired by the X-raid mechanics. Orlando Terranova’s improved run on Friday had pushed him up to 30th overall.

It was a distinct disadvantage for stage opener Carlos Sainz and X-raid’s Guerlain Chicherit to be running first and second and to be sweeping the roads, according to X-raid team director Sven Quandt. It was, therefore, no surprise to see Peterhansel as the fastest driver on the special at the first passage control at 54.73km. Al-Attiyah was fourth quickest to that point, with Campos and Terranova in seventh and 10th. Chicherit dropped 16 minutes with power steering problems.

Peterhansel maintained the lead through the second passage control at 95.83km, with Alphand and Al-Attiyah in close attendance. Campos and Terranova were sixth and seventh, but delays for Spaniard Joan Roma meant that Al-Attiyah had climbed into a virtual fifth overall in the general classification.

Peterhansel eventually won the stage by 64 seconds from French colleague Luc Alphand, with Al-Attiyah in third place. Campos set the sixth fastest time and Terranova was seventh.

Tomorrow (Sunday) marks the final short, fast loop stage of the Pax Rally around Portimao, taking in the popular tourist areas of Silves and Monchique to the north of the Atlantic coastal finish in Portimao. A 15km liaison section takes the surviving crews into the 68km stage, with a one-kilometre road section bringing teams to the podium finish.

2008 Pax Rally - positions on special 5:

1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 1h 56m 28s
2. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 1h 57m 32s
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC 1h 58m 17s
4. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 1h 58m 18s
5. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 1h 59m 13s
6. Filipe Campos (P)/Jaime Baptista (P) BMW X3 CC 2h 01m 04s
7. Orlando Terranova (RA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X3 CC 2h 01m 55s
TBA. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Matthieu Baumel (F) BMW X3 CC 2h 19m 22s

2008 Pax Rally - positions after leg 4 (unofficial @ 13.35hrs):

1. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 10h 19m 59s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 10h 20m 30s
3. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 10h 22m 32s
4. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 10h 24m 13s
5. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC 10h 27m 29s
6. Joan Roma (E)/Lucas Cruz Senra (E) Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 10h 32m 48s
7. Filipe Campos (P)/Jaime Baptista (P) BMW X3 CC 10h 39m 21s
8. Pedro Grancha (P)/Paulo Primaz (P) Nissan Navara 11h 07m 20s
9. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Matthieu Baumel (F) BMW X3 CC 11h 20m 46s
10. Miroslav Zapletal (CZ)/Tómas Ourednicek (CZ) Mitsubishi Pajero 11h 20m 54s
TBA. Orlando Terranova (RA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X3 CC 14h 52m 02s

2008/09/13 | 21:59 CET | Editor: MR/X-Raid BMW/Rita Konya

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