|SA-Dakar: Peterhansel/Cottret slip further behind leader on stage to Copiapo.|
Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret as best X-raid crew lost further time to their arch rivals, Carlos Sainz and Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, on the eighth special stage between Antofagasta and Copiapó in the Atacama desert on Monday.
Punctures and a persistent overheating problem were again the bugbear for the three-time former Dakar winners and their BMW X3CC crossed the finish line 01:13:41 hours behind stage winner and new race leader, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah.
Peterhansel now trails the Qatari by 01:33:30 hours and second-placed Sainz by 01:28:16 heading into the final five stages of the event. He also lost third overall to South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and faces a fight-back over the remaining five stages to reclaim the final podium position before the finish in Buenos Aires on Sunday afternoon.
"A very bad day," said Peterhansel. "We had three punctures, but then the worst problem was at the end. The engine was running too hot so we changed the visco (fan) and after the temperature began to go up again and it was necessary to stop six or seven times to find some water. Now there is a big gap with the leaders. For three days we have so many delays. We are really disappointed now."
Krzysztof Holowczyc and Jean-Marc Fortin began the stage in fifth overall and fifth on the road, but they were delayed with electrical problems and forced to make emergency repairs. The crew dropped 15 and then 52 minutes to carry out repairs and then suffered a further problem and stopped again at 119km.
The delays meant the Pole slipped to a virtual sixth behind Mark Miller in the general classification. He passed PC2 over 90 minutes behind Miller and was in danger of losing his sixth place to the pursuing group. But he found a useful pace through the latter sections of the special in the dunes and claimed the provisional 11th fastest time.
"The loom for the alternator was broken and we drove for two hours without the battery charging," said Holowczyc. "I decide to take the alternator out and I noticed that the loom was broken. In ‘Polish style’ I opened the wire, took a washer and some plastic and fixed it with tape. I was sure that will all the shaking it would not work, but we made it all the way to the finish."
He added: "Nani Roma lost seven hours with this problem. We had the same problem and lost one hour and a half. That is not so bad. We also had flat tyres after when we tried to pass all the trucks. It is not so easy on the stony ground. One of the flat tyres was very heavy and it broke the rim and the brake pipe and we had to stop again. Stephan (Schott) was very helpful and stopped to help us to change the brake pipe."
Teamchef Sven Quandt was not very happy: "Monday has been a very bad day. We had two cars with problems - Stéphane again with tyres and some small other things and Krzysztof with electrical problems, but I still think we have the chance to get the third position back."
Ricardo Leal Dos Santos and Paulo Fiùza had moved up to ninth in the general classification in Antofagasta and were the sixth crew into the day’s special. They were running 10th through the checkpoint at 143km and in a similar placing at PC2. The Portuguese found a good rhythm during the afternoon and passed PC4 in a virtual eighth overall on the special that he completed in a fine seventh position.
"We had three punctures and were in a panic mode with 150km of the stage to go," said Dos Santos. "Two of those were in 500 metres of each other. When we changed one of the wheels the jack bent, so we had to undo the jack and start again with the manual (jack).
"We overtook (Guilherme) Spinelli when he stopped to change a wheel and we did not see him again. This stage was really hard. I do not know how the back guys will manage to get through. The dunes at the end were the easiest part for us."
Germany’s Stephan Schott and Holm Schmidt began the eighth stage in 22ndoverall and 25 th on the road. They passed PC2 in 47th overall and were unofficially 23rdat PC5 after losing some time stopping to assist their Polish team-mate.
"If I am honest I wanted to try and finish the Dakar in the top 15," said Schott before the stage start. "At the moment I am a little off that goal but, when you have lost two and a half hours and then three and a half hours on two stages, it takes a lot of catching up."
Andrea Mayer, Thomas Baumann and Phillip Beier reached the bivouac in Antofagasta in 36th position on Sunday’s stage and classified in 40thoverall. They were the 38 th of the competitive trucks on the road this morning and running in 31stposition through PC2.
"It is not so easy to pass some of the dunes in our support truck," admitted Baumann. "We are probably about eight tonnes heavier that the Kamaz race trucks, because of all the spares we are carrying, and we have less power. It is important to keep up the speed to pass the dunes. They are long days. It is quite a challenge."
2011/01/11 | 10:47 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/X-RAID