|SA-Dakar Rally: Nani Roma - "Peru´s dunes are like the ones in Mauretania".|
All the Monster Energy X-raid Team drivers had expected a difficult 12th special stage but what they had to cope with exceeded their fears - by far. Every driver got stuck and struggled with the dunes of Nasca, Peru.
Everybody had a lot of respect for the Peruvian dunes - and this attitude proved to be absolutely appropriate. "A lot of drivers won’t have completed the special stage tonight, that’s for sure," Nani Roma said to describe the level of difficulty. "The dunes are like the ones in Mauretania: small, with holes and extremely soft." When the orange Mini entered the bivouac, one could see two beaming faces in the cockpit.
Novitskiy and Schulz proved to be the best X-raid pairing today and came close to completing the special stage without any major problems. The two Frenchmen Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret with the green Mini had to settle for finishing 7th but succeeded in defending their overall lead, with Roma following in second position.
"We probably had the right tyre pressure right from the start," said co-driver Schulz. "Navigating also turned out to be difficult as the visibility was extremely poor." By finishing second, Novitskiy consolidated his fifth place in the overall standings.
Overall leader Stephane Peterhansel reported: "We got stuck at the very beginning of the dune field. So, we had to cope with working our way forward centimetre by centimetre. I really thought this would be the end of my Dakar Rally. But fortunately, I was just three minutes slower than Nani. Afterwards, I opted for decreasing my tyre pressure - and a short time later, I also got stuck in a hole."
Portuguese Dos Santos and his Polish team-mate Holowczyc also struggled with the treacherous dunes. Both Mini drivers lost their way several times and had to settle for finishing ninth and twelfth, in the end. "This was an extremely tough special stage," said Paulo Fiuza, Dos-Santos’ navigator. "We had two punctures and lost our way three times. I’m really happy to be back in the bivouac."
For the BMW X3 CC crews, the day also was extremely tough. The two Russians Alexander Mironenko and Sergey Lebedev finished 11th with their BMW X3CC, with their German team-mates Stephan Schott and Holm Schmidt coming 13th. Meanwhile, Chile’s Boris Garafulic and his French co-driver Gilles Picard are still out there struggling with the adversities of today’s special stage, in their BMW X3CC.
2012/01/14 | 14:32 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/X-RAID