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Rali Transiberico 2007 Special-Newssection (FIA Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Rali Transiberico 2007, 1st round of the FIA Worldcup for Cross Country Rallys. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Transiberico: Nani Roma and Luc Alphand continue to push in Portugal.

It's been another exciting day of competition in Portugal for Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart's Joan 'Nani' Roma and Luc Alphand who continue to hold 2nd and 4th positions this evening after a further 440km of against-the-clock action divided into two stages near Santarem, north of Lisbon.

In twisty, narrow conditions that were far more familiar to ex-WRC ace Carlos Sainz than to Mitsubishi's rally-raid specialists, Roma and Alphand more than held their own, with the Spaniard completing the two tests in 3rd and 2nd places, beaten only by only former World Rally Champions Sainz and Colin McRae who was back today after being eliminated with brake trouble on Friday morning.

Nani's otherwise strong run was spoiled by a puncture practically from the outset, while it is also highly likely that Alphand and his co-driver Gilles Picard (France) could have secured a footing on the provisional podium had their early push not been thwarted when the organisers' vehicles had a problem pulling their Pajero/Montero Evolution out of water-crossing in which they had become stuck on SS4. The incident cost the French pair approximately 10 minutes and, after that, their day was essentially about making up for lost ground to try and get past Carlos Sousa (3rd overall).

The shorter final day will bring survivors back to Estoril for the finish ceremony after a further 300km of competitive action divided into two identical stages. Whether that will be sufficient for Alphand to catch and pass Sousa to secure a second consecutive 3rd place on the Transiberico will surely be one of the highlights of the last leg.

Nani Roma: "I was unlucky to clip a hidden tree stump just 7km after the start of this morning's stage. We punctured at once and had to stop to replace the wheel. The change went well - less than 2 minutes - but by the time we had strapped ourselves back in and everything, Sousa had passed us and we spent much of the rest of the stage in his dust. It was only towards the finish that we succeeded in finding a way past and we were at last able to push to pass back ahead of him in the stage classification. The combination of these two factors meant that we were no longer in the immediate wake of Sainz overall and it will be difficult to make up 5 minutes on someone of his experience on an event like this."

Luc Alphand: "Before the incident, I was on a good pace and catching Sousa, but afterwards it was basically a question of spending the day trying to make up for lost ground. We have succeeded in closing the gap that separates us from the podium to just under 4 minutes, but we could have been even closer tonight had we not spent more than half the afternoon's test on Sainz's tail, unable to pass.”

Dominique Serieys (Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director): "It's been something of a mixed day for us. It's been a true pleasure seeing how Nani and Luc, who are more accustomed to the sort of wide, open spaces associated with rally-raids, have been able to put in such strong runs against the likes of Sainz. Nani is very pleased with the progress he has made on four-wheels since last year and it was also nice to see that both Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart crews finished today's long programme in good shape despite the heat, with cabin temperatures estimated to be around the 60°C mark. In contrast, Sainz and Sousa were visibly drained at the finish of today's second test. We have to be lucid, however: Sainz is in front and someone of his calibre is going to be tough to beat. We will also need to keep working on improving the car to ensure we can take the fight to him on the events to come."

2007/06/03 | 13:38 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Repsol

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