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Por las Pampas: Double-Victory for Repsol Teams in South America.

The Patagonia Atacama Raid finished this week in Iquique, Chile, after a whole week starting in Argentina, crossing the Andes and finishing in Chile, with the victory of a Repsol riders and a Repsol driver. Today's 200-km stage did not have many difficulties and has been rather spectacular, with some dunes towards the end and a beautiful route along the Pacific Ocean.

In the motorbike class, Marc Coma's intelligent race gave him the victory of a race he has been clearly dominating. Coma took the leadership on the first day and didn't leave that position until the end, winning over Frenchman Casteu, second, with an advantage of more than half an hour. Team mate Jordi Viladoms, who was in charge of the evolution of the new KTM 2007, had a hard rally, with some mechanical complications he managed to overcome step by step though far from the leading positions.

A nice duel was experienced in the car class between both Repsol sponsored Mitsubishi drivers Luc Alphand, winner of the last Lisbon-Dakar Rally and Nani Roma, who finished second. Both of them performed an exciting race, fighting side by side for the first place. Evenness was the dominating feature until last Tuesday, when a breakdown of the clutch in Roma's car took him away from the fight for the victory, having to settle for the second position.

Thus, the balance of the Repsol riders and drivers in the Patagonia Atacama, was more than positive with the final victory in motorbikes for Marc Coma and in cars for Luc Alphand. Marc Coma: "IT's been a very hard rally, maybe the hardest of the world championship. Things worked out well, the bike worked perfectly well, the team has also worked very well and I want to thank them all for their great job. We're on the right line and that's what counts. In this kind of races you cannot take anything for granted. Yesterday's stage was very long, almost 500 km special and today we had another 200 with several difficulties as regards navigation, so the most important was to be always watchful and keep always concentrated."

Jordi Viladoms "I'm happy because in the end everything worked out well. The most important was to finish the rally and we made it. We had some mechanical problems but we managed to repair them. There was one moment when we thought that we would have to quit the rally due to a breakdown, but the organisation allowed us to continue. This has been very good, both for me - because I was able to gather experience - and for the bike which we are developing."

And Mitsubishi-Pilot Nani Roma added: "I'm not really happy, because I wanted the victory but we finished second and, well we have to see the positive side. I think that we've made a good race; we've had a very good pace and Luc has made a great race as well. He is the last winner of the Dakar Rally but I think that we made things difficult for him. I was really looking forward to winning, to fighting for the victory until the end but a mechanical problem hindered us from doing it. The positive side is the progression I'm having. It's been very good and there will be other races to make it better."

2006/03/21 I 16:43 CET I Editor: YF

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