|SA-Dakar: Good day for X-raid - Peterhansel third, Holowczyc fourth on SS03.|
Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret maintained the pressure on their two closest rivals on the split third stage between San Miguel de Tucumán and San Salvador de Jujuy in the northwest corner of Argentina on Monday.
The crew completed the stage in third position in their BMW X3 CC, but slipped behind stage winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah in the overall rankings and now hold third overall, 4:19 minutes behind leader Carlos Sainz.
The Spaniard maintained his advantage, despite finishing second on the stage, and will take a 3:34 outright lead over Al-Attiyah across the Andes into Chile on Wednesday morning.
"It was a long day and the beginning of the navigation," said Peterhansel. "We made a small mistake and then tried to push towards the end. I was a
little bit faster than Nasser, but I am quite happy to be third at this point. It is the start of the desert and that may be good for me."
The Mini Alll4 Racing crew of Guerlain Chicherit and Michel Périn began the day in 23rd overall and seventh on the road, but had slipped to 11th by the first passage control. They completed the stage in ninth position and climbed into the top 15 in the general classification.
Krzysztof Holowczyc and Jean-Marc Fortin rose to fifth overall on the run into Tucumán and were running in sixth overall through PC1. They managed to beat the former Dakar champion Giniel de Villiers, maintain fifth overall and close the gap on the fourth-placed South African to 4m 52s at the end of the special.
"Not so bad today, said Holowczyc. "Just the second section was very technical and nice. I opened up a little and am feeling more confident. The car is in one piece, but I still feel that I can go faster and I think I can climb even higher over the next few days."
Local X-raid driver Orlando Terranova and Portuguese co-driver Filipe Palmeiro began the day in sixth overall and maintained their place in the overall standings after a solid drive. "So, so today," said Terranova. "We decided to have the car up (suspension) and that was a mistake I think. We had two punctures and had to change one of them. But I am much happier this year at the start than I was for the last two years."
Leonid Novitskiy and Andreas Schulz began the day in seventh overall and were running smoothly in a similar position to PC1. They eventually finished the special tied to the second with Terranova and Palmeiro and remained in seventh position.
Ricardo Leal Dos Santos and Paulo Fiùza started the stage ninth on the road and 13th position and were 12th through PC1 in their Monster Energy-backed BMW X3 CC. They set the 12th fastest time and maintain 13th overall.
Germany’s Stephan Schott and Holm Schmidt brought up the rear of the X-raid team’s challenge in 25th position at the start of the run into Jujuy and ran 29th on the road at the start of the day in the X-raid KS Tools BMW X3 CC. They were classified in 40th position at PC1.
"We are in a quite good position, although it was a little unfortunate that Stéphane lost one place in the overall classification today," said team director Sven Quandt.
"Nasser was pushing hard in the second part, but we had five cars in the top 10 on the stage and Krzysztof was faster than Giniel and that is pleasing. I discussed with the team about not taking risks in Argentina, especially today with the trees and the bushes. Now the desert starts and we will see. Stéphane knows what he has to do."
Peterhansel was the quickest driver on the course through the waypoints at 39km and 71km, but Al-Attiyah edged into a virtual 29s advantage at the first passage control at 113km, with Sainz in third position.
The route for the 136 remaining cars and 166 bikes split at 202km and resumed at 225km, shortly before the end of the first section at the 226km point. Al-Attiyah pulled 55s clear of Peterhansel through 146km and the Qatari held on to his virtual stage lead to the end of the first section, as Peterhansel slipped behind Sainz.
A sinuous descent from 3,378 metres guided crews to the start of the second competitive 102km section via the neutralised zone. Peterhansel continued to pursue Al-Attiyah and Sainz, but his rivals held station and Stéphane duly confirmed third place on the special.
San Salvador de Jujuy is commonly known as Jujuy and lies at the southernmost end of the Humahuaca canyon where wooded hills meet neighbouring lowlands. It is located at the junction of the Xibi Xibi River and the Rio Grande de Jujuy, 1,238 metres above seal level.
The city was founded by Francisco de Arganaraz y Murguiá at a strategic point on the mule transport route between Tucumán and the silver mines at Potosi in nearby Bolivia.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) the rally crosses the spine of the Andes mountains and enters neighbouring Chile for the first time via the scenic Paso de Jama. Crews will then ascend to an altitude of 4,800 metres - the same height as Mont Blanc - before beginning the short 207km special at an altitude of 3,300 metres.
The liaison passes through the Olaroz Cauchari and Los Flamencos National Parks and the entire special will run across barren terrain over 2,400 metres above sea level. A short liaison takes teams into the overnight halt in Calama, a former rest base in the Patagonia-Atacama Rally, a round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup.
2011/01/04 | 23:18 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/XRAID