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Pharaons Rally: Dramatic minutes in last stage - and new Worldcup-winner.








You like good books? In a good book there is a interesting opening, then you need an enthralling story - and in the end a surprising final. Especially for the battle between the two Buggies in the FIA Cross Country Championship, the 13th edition of the Pharaons Rally in Egypt was like a good book. A very good book.

The last stage of the rally on Saturday was only 240 kilometers in racing, but 506 kms overall. The competitors had to go from the Siwa oasis to Al Alamein in the north of Egypt - the route was easier then in the days before, no dunes anymore, but fast sandy and stony tracks until the finish line, 105 kms before Al Alamein.

In the cars Maurizio Traglio and Fabian Lurquin opened the stage with their Tecnosport Nissan Pathfinder and find their speed very early. As second the French Jean-Louis Schlesser started in the stage - as the overall leader and an advance of more then 1:34 hours in front of Traglio, the Toyota Land Cruiser of Jun Mitsuhashi and the Bowler of Jerome Pelichet.

Hours later - at the podium in Al Alamein, Traglio arrived first, then Vigouroux, Mitsuhashi and Pelichet. Where was Schlesser? "He rolled his car" first rumors told. Strange minutes, everybody checked the watch, over and over again... Finally the podium-ceremony started.

Then, after many thrilling minutes, we heard the typical V8-sound - Jean-Louis Schlesser and Arnaud Debron arrived in Al Alamein, with a strong damaged Buggy. Everybody looked at the watch: Puh, but the French pairing made it! First place in the 13th Pharaons Rally after 22:33:29 hours and six days of racing. The big advance, made in the days before, saved the first place. Schlesser and Debron only lost 56 minutes because of the crash.

"It was incredible" Schlesser told. "We were very fast, then there was a narrow curve, we tried to brake but it was too late. We hit a big stone and rolled the car, only 15 kms after the start." But seriously nothing happened to the drivers, the car looked hardly damaged but was able to drive. "After we rolled over many times I can state the solidness of our chassis. Nothing moved at all. I´m glad of my third victory of Pharaons Rally and most of all, this is my first one with the organiser JVD International."

Maurizio Traglio and Fabian Lurquin finished the stage with their third stage-win - and as second overall with 32:47 after Schlesser. "The results we have done with our Nissan Pathfinder are great. I´m glad with our second place overall, and I think Schlesser deserves his first place too. It was such a beautiful race: The sand stages we have here we cannot have them anywhere else! Not even in the UAE!"

Japanese Jun Mitsuhashi and his Belgian codriver Alain Guehennec climbed the third position (23:48:08). Mitsuhashi was happy about his podium´s place: "This was a great rally, a perfect test and preparation for the upcoming Dakar Rally in South America. It was my first Pharaons and I must say, nice stages, not too hard, not too easy, a good mix. We are very proud of our car - we made the 3rd place with a production car after the Buggy of Schlesser and the T1-Nissan of Traglio. A great result!"

In fourth and fifth position the Bowlers of Jerome Pelichet (France) and Roberto Tonetti (Italy) finished the rally - after a internal race and the final of the "Bowler Wildcat Trophy". Pelichet and his famous navigator Eugenie Decre finished 1:44 hours after the overall winner Schlesser, Tonetti need 2:36 hours more then the leader.

And the big question: Who are the winners in the FIA Cross Country Worldcup for Buggies and the Team-category? Yesterday the journalists added the points - and the possible results. If Schlesser wants to win, he had to be minimum the third while Vigouroux has to retire - or he must be the overall-winner and Vigouroux maximum the fifth.

But the French Eric Vigouroux, actually living in the US, and his Codriver Alex Winocq made a stable race, even after the crash in the first stage and the transmission-problems in the third stage. In the last stage they finished second - but only because they stopped at the crash of Schlesser. But overall the Toyo-Tire guys climbed the 6th position - and finished as the second Buggy: Congratulations, the Chevrolet Pro Truck crew made it - FIA Cross Country Worldcup winners in the Two Wheel Drive category.

The best Egyptian crew in Pharaons was "El Gouna Rally Raid Egypt". Ahmed El Shamy and his English co-driver Paul Round finished the race tenth overall. Marathonrally-partners Adham Mostafa and finished as 12th - and were totally happy. "This was the first FIA-race with our new Dodge Ram" Mostafa said, "the car was great, we had no bigger problems. We enjoyed the rally and the great landscape. The 12th position is especially great during all the improved rallycars."

The 13th edition of the Pharaons Rally officially finishes with the big price-giving ceremony on Sunday evening in the Egyptian coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

2010/10/09 | 19:51 CET | EDITOR: MR/HS











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