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Por las Pampas 2007 Special-Newssection (FIA Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Por las Pampas Patagonia Atacama Rally 2007, 3rd round of the FIA Worldcup for Cross Country Rallys. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Por las Pampas: Total victory for Repsol in the Patagonia Atacama Rally.

The Raid Patagonia Atacama finished yesterday, Wednesday, and it was clearly dominated by the two Repsol teams, cars and motorbikes. In the car category the members of the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team, Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard, got their second consecutive victory after finishing the race in Iquique in the north of Chile.

The French couple finished well ahead of their closest rival, Orlando Terranova, and so got the third consecutive victroy for the Mitsubishi Montero Evolution MPR13 in 2007, after victories for Stéphane Peterhansel in the Dakar back in January and the Baja España in July.

The nine days of this race took the participants from the Argentinian ski station of San Carlos de Bariloche, on 28th August, through the Andes and on to the north of Chile along the Pacific coast. The final section took the cars and bikes to the heart of the Atacama desert. This route for the Patagonia, to the south of the Chilean border with Peru, provided the best range of conditions seen in any stage of the World Raid Championship, with temperatures varying from around zero on snowy mountain passes in the south to the most arid desert on the planet.

Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard led the race from the start and won 7 of the 10 stages, with lenghts between 503km and the 3km Superspecial in the Viña del Mar GP, close to Santiago, to cover a total distance of 2 315km. Many of the stages at the beginning were characterised by a combination of long sections on the Pacific coast and unclear narrow tracks through dense vegetation in the interior, whilst the final stages were through open desert and through the highest sand dunes in the world.

After the team`s test program in Morocco last July, Luc Alphand expressed his satisfaction with the car and the performance of his Mitsubishi Montero Evolution MPR13. "It was a pleasure to drive the Mitsubishi Montero and also very comfortable, which is important when competing over long distances" said Luc. "After the tests in Morocco the traction is really excellent and the drive is gentle and progressive. The car is also very strong and has resisted the nine days of punishment magnificently."

The next date challenge for the Montero Evolution MPR13 is the final date in the World Raid Championship, the UAE Desert Challenge in the United Arab Emirates between 27th October - 2nd November, where there will be three cars starting; Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret, Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard, and Nani Roma/Lucas Cruz. The team has another date programmed in Morocco before they travel to the United Arab Emirates.

In the motorbike category this is the third consecutive year that the Repsol rider Marc Coma has won this rally. Thanks to the large lead he got on the first few days Coma was able to start the last special calmly and reach the finishing line with his mission accomplished. This is the third victory of the season for Coma in three races so far this year. His Repsol KTM Team teamate, Jordi Viladoms, was alongside him on the podium as he was third. Viladoms reappeared in this race after a long period of recuperation after falling in the Dakar, and he got some miles under his belt in the last nine days and is slowly getting back to his previous high level. The next date for these two is the Rally of the Pharoahs, 29th September - 7th October, where they will have a chance to get more points in the World Championship and get ready for the most important race of the year: the Lisbon Dakar 2008.

Luc Alphand: "This a result for the team. The car was incredíble and everybody at the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team has done thir work perfectly: the technical team, our BFGoodrich tyres and Gilles, who has worked impeccably since the start right to the end. We had a fright at the end of the day with an unidentified problem on the engine, but we reached the finishing line successfully, and this finished in a very original way, with a descent of an incredible 1 000 metre high dune down to the podium: a perfect end to a rally that has been incredibly varied."

Dominique Serieys, Director del Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart: "The varied conditions of the route have helped to prepare the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team for the rallies in 2008. We learnt a lot in the last few days and the information will be very useful for next year. The field was not as strong as we will see in Africa, but the terrain and the format of the rally Por Las Pampas has been quite tough. This was a tough race physically and an excellent preparation for Luc and Gilles, and the navigation was not simple at all. It was complex from the technical and logistics point of view, and that cannot be undervalued."

Marc Coma: "This was a very complete rally. Beginning in the south in extreme conditions, with snow, a lot of vegetation and mud. Very complicated stages before arriving to the desert where we faced dunes, navigation and very technical specials. I am very pleased with how it all went, because it is the third consecutive time that I have won this race as well, and that is a big thrill for me, since it was the first World Championship Rally that I ever won. On the other hand I want to thank all the riders that helped me when I was stranded in the water, because it was a dubious race situation, and they really did help me a lot. With yesterday`s stage, Wednesday, being so short the important thing was to enjoy it and not have any problems, luckily everything went well."

Jordi Viladoms: "We have now finished and the truth is that I am very pleased with how things went. We had a very short stage today, just 48km, where had to to try and get through it without creating any problems or anything strange happening to finish the rally well. It was important to finish the rally to get my confidence back and to get some miles under my belt, because I needed to get up to date with the navigation and with the ride on this motorbike. I was lucky because we have ridden on all types of terrain and that has helped me a lot. Yesterday`s stage, Wednesday, had no complications, only some zones with dunes, and others with tracks… I knew that after Tuesday`s stage the rider in fourth place was far behind me, so I could take things easy and try to make sure nothing happened. I want to thank Doctor Mir, the physios, Moi and Javi, and the whole team because they have taken a lot of care to get me back on the bike and fit again after the injury, which has healed quickly. I also thank my team and the sponsors who have placed their confidence in me and have given me this chance, they have given me a vote of confidence so that I can race in this type of rally and get ready for the main objective that we have set ourselves, which is to go well-prepared to the Dakar."

2007/09/06 | 15:31 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Repsol

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