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UAE Desert Challenge 2007 Special-Newssection (FIA Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the UAE Desert Challenge 2007, last 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.

UAE Desert Challenge: Victory for Peterhansel in the third stage

The third stage of the Dubai Challenge ended in the best possible way for the Repsol team. It won the two categories - cars and bikes. The second loop around Moreeb, 277km, showed the great form that the Repsol team is in, now at the top of the leaderboard in both categories.

Luc Alphand started third and ended the special second, one minute and a half behind the Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart driver, Stéphane Peterhansel, a result that put them in first and second in the overall classification with two days racing left. Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret were the fastest today, and moved up from fourth to second position, 2 minutes and 42 seconds behind the leaders.

In spite of the fact that the Mitsubishi Montero Evolution MPR13 is leading the race, the first three drivers are separated by less than 5 minutes. With just 626km left, the result of the World Cross Country Championship 2007 is still not decided.

The day began with Luc Alphand reaching and overtaking Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al Attiyah, but with the two settling down just behind the Frenchman to follow in his tracks. However, with Sainz breathing down his neck the Repsol driver got stuck in an especially difficult dune close to CP4, and while he was trying to get out his rivals took advantage of the situation to overtake him. Stéphane Peterhansel benefited from a day without problems, but the same could not be said about his main rivals, to set the fastest time in his Mitsubishi Montero Evolution number 205.

Today Marc Coma took advantage of the fact that he started behind his main rivals to extend the lead in the motorbike category. The Repsol rider overtook Ullevalseter just after the start and Despres and West, yesterday`s winner, just after the first CP. From then on the four rode together in a group until CP4, where they left the Briton behind. At the end of the stage, subtracting the differences at the start, Marc Coma was the winner - 2 minutes and 28 seconds ahead of Pal Ullevalseter and 4 minutes 25 seconds in front of Cyril Despres, and he now has an overall lead of 5 minutes 26 seconds.

Tomorrow, Thursday, sees the longest stage in the UAE Desert Challenge 2007, a special of 339.22km followed by a liaison of 122km, which takes the vehicles back to their final night in the camp at Mureeb Hill. The event will end on Friday after the final short stages, 123.8km and 163.8km.

Luc Alphand: "We went well at first and the car was going along fine, so obviously it was very frustrating to see how the others disappeared when we had to get the planks out to get out of the sand. We only took 4 or 5 minutes to start again and then we soon caught Carlos trapped in the sand just before CP4, then we caught Nasser, who seemed to have a mechanical problem. Today`s one two was obviously very good in these conditions. Even so, it is too early to say if anything is decided, because as we saw today and yesterday the order can change really quickly."

Stéphane Peterhansel: "Unlike the rest we completed the first 200km without seeing anybody, but then we saw Luc, and then Carlos Sainz. During the last 50 or 60km we had somebody in sight and that allowed me to up my speed for the rest of the stage. It is great to have set the fastest time and that moved me up to second position in the general. And Luc finished first which is also very positive for Mitsubishi and Repsol. After losing time yesterday with a puncture I set a fast but safe pace, although probably faster than on the Tuesday, and this strategy worked as the other drivers had problems. This is what competing in theWorld Cross Country Championship is like."

Marc Coma: "Today`s stage was very similar to what we had had on the other days. All off track, a lot of dunes and soft sand. Today I started behind the others and I wanted to take advantge of that. The important thing was not to have too many people between myself and Cyril Despres because tomorrow he will probably cut the gap on me. For the time being everything is going well, we still have not had any problems and we have not made any mistakes either, let`s hope it is like this to the end. The navigation in this race is a litle different to what we are used to. Here the GPS is always open, without restrictions like in many other races, so the navigation is easier. Here the difficulty lies in the technique to get past the dunes."

Jordi Arcarons: "I think the race is between Marc and Cyril, and even though Marc has a small lead, it is very small and nothing is decided. There are two days left and they are both very important. Tomorrow Marc starts first opening up the tracks and Cyril will have a chance to cut the gap on him since he starts 4 minutes behind him. But the terrian changes a little. Today and yesterday there was a lot of off track riding with dunes and navigation; tomorrow there are more tracks, on faster ground, which maybe suits Marc better."

2007/10/31 | 17:02 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Repsol

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