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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 finishes the Portuguese Rally second.

The menu of the 2007 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup's opening round featured seven twisty, narrow stages that were far more akin to WRC competition than the sort of baja or desert terrain more readily associated with the world of cross-country rallying. Yet although the event was ultimately won by ex-WRC champ Carlos Sainz, Roma pushed hard from the outset to keep his fellow Spaniard under pressure. However, when the former biker had to stop and change a puncture just 7km into Saturday morning's 220km test, it handed his rival a chance to pull out a sufficiently comfortable cushion at the top to then be able to control from in front for the remainder of the weekend.

The Portuguese event featured 2,220.98 Km, including 1,131.59 Km of against-the-clock action en route from the rally's base in Estoril, west of Lisbon, to overnight halts in Badajoz, Spain, and Evora, Portugal, before returning to the Atlantic casino resort of Estoril for the finish ceremony.

Alphand's run suffered an initial setback on Day 2 when he damaged his steering after clipping a rock. He then lost a further ten or so minutes on Saturday morning when the organisers had trouble pulling him clear of a muddy water-splash, an incident that essentially prevented the French crew from finishing the penultimate leg any higher than fourth overall behind Sainz, Roma and Carlos Sousa. The final day saw the Frenchman make a thrilling bid to clinch a top-three finish on the final day but fell short by a margin of less than two minutes after pulling back nearly six minutes of his deficit compared with Sousa on Saturday morning.

The next outing for the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team is Spain's Baja Espana (July 20-22), the second round of the FIA international Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for which the 2007 Dakar winner St├ęphane Peterhansel (France) will join forces with Nani Roma.

The team's FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup programme then resumes with the Por las Pampas Rally in Argentina (Round 3, August 27-September 5) and the series' final fixture, the UAE Desert Challenge (Round 4, October 27-November 2). Alphand will be partnered by Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka in South America and then by Nani Roma and St├ęphane Peterhansel in the United Arab Emirates.

Nani Roma: "It's been a good rally, but we picked up three punctures in all over the weekend and we really needed a totally trouble-free run if we were to stand any chance of winning. For the second year running, I will have to settle for 2nd place on the Transiberico, although there is no shame in finishing runner-up to someone of Carlos Sainz's experience and calibre, especially on stages like this. Lucas and I gave it our very best shot, but in the end there was little we could do to put any significant pressure on the leader after the time we dropped early on."

Luc Alphand: "It's been great fighting at this level of competition and I'm delighted to have set at least one fastest time. We finished less than two minutes off the podium despite the time we lost on Saturday morning waiting for the organisers to pull us out of a water-crossing. That was so frustrating. Then, on the morning of the final day, we were asked to tuck in behind Roma on the stage after he suffered two punctures. He didn't have any spares left and so it was only logical for me to stay with him to protect his second place rather than risk throwing everything away by trying to pass Sousa. I think we've all learnt a great deal this weekend and I can't wait to put those lessons to good effect when my programme resumes in Argentina at the end of the summer."

Dominque Serieys (Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Drector): "On this sort of terrain, which resembled a round of the WRC more than typical cross-country rally terrain, I have to say how pleased I am with the runs of both Nani and Luc who succeeded in taking the fight to someone with as much experience of this sort of terrain as Carlos Sainz. Before losing ground following his puncture on Saturday morning, Nani was snapping at his compatriot's heels and was only beaten on the first five stages by two former World Rally Champions as Sainz and McRae; not bad for someone who only recently switched from two to four wheels! We have to be lucid however. Both our cars ran extremely reliably, but beating Sainz on stages like this was never going to be easy. It's now up to us to keep working to try and turn the tables on our rivals the next time we meet."

2007/06/04 | 11:51 CET | Editor: MR/HS/MMSP

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