|SA-Dakar: Sven Quandt - "A mixed day with some positive and negatives".|
After the success of Stéphane Peterhansel and his navigator Jean-Paul Cottret, the French X-raid driver reported about Thursday´s stage. "It was not an easy stage at all for the first one in the desert. There were many broken tracks, sand, fesh-fesh and tricky navigation. We managed to overtake Nasser and Carlos at the same time near the start when they made a mistake" said Peterhansel.
The French duo were involved in a frantic tussle with Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah throughout the 423km desert special and Peterhansel’s victory reduced Carlos Sainz’s grip on the overall race lead to 2:26 minutes.
"Then we made a mistake, we were in the dust of Carlos, I had a puncture and we touched a rock" Peterhansel added. "Then I pushed again towards the end and caught both cars just before the dunes. We have seen now that three drivers are quicker than the others. My car is perfect, but it will not be easy to be first on the road on the next stage. Sometimes it can be good. We will see."
The Monster Energy-backed Mini All4 Racing crew of Guerlain Chicherit and Michel Périn had been in excellent form through the early kilometres of the day’s stage and were running as high as a virtual third position before they left the road and were forced to wait for Ricardo Leal Dos Santos to tow them back on to the track. The French duo lost over 30 minutes and eventually finished the special in 10th place and now hold 11th in the general classification.
Russia’s Leonid Novitskiy and German co-driver Andreas Schulz began the day ninth on the road and were classified in 14th and 11th through the first two passage controls. But the Russian injured his wrist soon afterwards, after trapping his arm in the steering wheel, and returned to PC2 to be examined by race doctors.
Schulz took over driving duties and the Russian was in-line for a hefty penalty in the Iquique bivouac on Thursday evening, but an examination outlined a double break in the Russian’s left hand and he was forced to retire from the rally.
"Never have I ever retired from a Dakar under such circumstances," said a disappointed two-time winner Schulz. "We were running really well and then we came across this hole which was not in the road book. Everything seemed fine, but Leonid said that he had a problem with his hand and could not carry on. It is so frustrating."
"It has been a mixed day with some positive and negatives," said team director Sven Quandt. "We had the stage win and it was fantastic with the bike victory for BMW as well. Stéphane (Peterhansel) came very close to winning the stage yesterday and he had quite a good lead at one point today. There are downsides from today though. Stephan (Schott) had a broken suspension arm, Leonid (Novitskiy) hurt his hand quite badly and we had a delay for Guerlain in the Mini."
Krzysztof Holowczyc and Jean-Marc Fortin were classified fifth through the first, second and third passage controls and completed the special in sixth position to maintain fifth overall.
"Everything was going perfectly through the passage controls but then, for no reason, Krzysztof’s door came open and he could not close it," said co-driver Fortin. "I suggested we stopped for two minutes to tie-wrap it together, but he decided to continue holding the door at the same time as driving through the sand dunes and we lost 15 minutes when we got stuck."
Orlando Terranova and Filipe Palmeiro began the stage sixth on the road and held eighth at PC1. They completed the test in seventh position. "We are here, but it was a very frustrating day," said Terranova. "We went left, right, left again, and we lost quite a bit of time."
Portugal’s Ricardo Leal Dos Santos and Paulo Fiùza stopped to assist Chicherit and lost valuable minutes before the first passage control. They passed the control boards in 10th position and went on to finish the special in 12th overall.
Gemany’s Stephan Schott and Holm Schmidt began the special in 20th on the road and 27th overall, but they damaged a suspension A-arm before the first passage control and were forced to wait for the MAN assistance truck, driven by Germany’s Andrea Mayer. Schott held 88th on the stage at PC1.
Mayer is accompanied in the truck by Thomas Baumann and Phillip Beier and is offering crucial support to the entire X-raid team. Mayer overcame troubles earlier in the route in Argentina and stopped to support X-raid’s stricken Kamaz truck on a couple of occasions. The crew were classified 54th in the truck category at the start of the stage into Iquique and were running 45th on the road.
2011/01/07 | 14:27 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/XRAID