|SA-Dakar Rally: X-raid boss Sven Quandt "Now we have to keep on pushing".|
The countdown is running - just three more days to go to the Dakar Rally finish at Lima. Before beginning the 11th special stage, the drivers crossed the border to Peru - for the first time in the history of the Dakar Rally. Once again, the special stage was split into two sections (195 and 152 km) - and it surprised the competitors by its level of difficulty.
In the 11th of the 14 special stages, from Arica, Chile to Arequipa, Peru, the Monster Energy X-raid Team celebrated a one-two-three. With their green Mini All4 Racing, the two Frenchmen Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret did not only secure the special stage win. At the same time, they also extended their lead in the overall standings.
Nani Roma / Michel Périn took the yellow Mini to 2nd position, with their Portuguese team-mates Ricardo Leal dos Santos und Paulo Fiuza in the red sister car coming 3rd. Meanwhile, the toughest rival of Peterhansel and Roma in the battle for the overall win, Robby Gordon in the Hummer, lost more than an hour due to technical problems.
"Today’s special stage wasn’t too nice," said the 46-year old Peterhansel. "A lot of Fech-Fech with hidden stones." And although the field slowly is approaching the finish in Lima, there still are three special stages to be contested. Therefore, the overall leader warned: "We have witnessed again and again that many things can go wrong - at any time. Furthermore, the coming two days once will again be extremely tough."
Roma had to kick off the race action today and consequently pioneered for the other drivers. In addition, the Spanish-French pairing encountered some navigation problems. "I took the wrong turn several times and had to drive back," admitted the Spaniard. And in the closing stages, he got stuck in a small dune. "Actually, the dune itself was just ridiculous," Roma said laughing, "but a motorbike rider had tumbled and I had to brake. Fortunately, the incident cost us just two minutes."
By finishing 3rd today, Leal dos Santos celebrated his best Dakar result to date. "Previously, my best result was the 5th place but now I’ve improved to third," beamed the Portuguese. "Today’s special stage with its numerous technically demanding sections suited me well."
Novitskiy also once again delivered in consistent style and set the fifth-fastest time of the day. "Today’s track represented a true challenge," said Andy Schulz, Leonid Novitskiy’s navigator. "A lot of Fech-Fech sand that was - occasionally - extremely deep." In addition, the organisers had included several dune sections.
Polish Holowczyc finished sixth. Following the problems he had encountered yesterday, he started from 21st position into today’s special stage. "We passed 15 cars - one by one and in dense dust," said the Pole. "And the second section went really well. In consideration of the situation, having finished sixth represents a really good result, for us."
By finishing eighth, Chilean-French pairing Boris Garafulic / Gilles Picard in their BMW X3CC even upped the ante compared to the 9th place they had secured yesterday. "In the first section of the special stage we were driving all alone and later, we saw just one car," revealed Garafulic, "But Gilles and I had a lot of fun, nevertheless."
German pairing Stephan Schott and Holm Schmidt finished 11th, in their KS Tools BMW X3CC, while the BUER BMW X3CC of two Russians Alexander Mironenko and Sergey Lebedev got stuck in the dunes.
"This was a really good day for us," said Monster Energy Team Manager Sven Quandt. "Nonetheless, we mustn’t take it too easy, now, and have to keep on pushing. Okay, our rivals are an hour behind but if you get stuck in the dunes this lead can be lost quickly."
2012/01/13 | 12:07 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/X-RAID