DAK Peterhansel rolls and continues on day five in Argentina
31ST DAKAR RALLY (January 3rd-January 18th, 2009)
Leg 5: Neuquén - San Rafaël
Liaison, 173 km; special, 506 km; liaison, 84 km; total, 763 km.
Weather conditions: warm, sunny and windy - 22 degrees Centigrade, rising to 30 degrees Centigrade`later with a risk of a thunderstorm.
For immediate release
Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
MITSUBISHI'S THREE 'RACING LANCERS' HOLD FOURTH
SIXTH AND EIGHTH PLACES AFTER FIRST DUNE CROSSINGS
· Peterhansel fifth quickest into San Rafaël
· Alphand and Roma set seventh and eighth times
SAN RAFAËL (Argentina): Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart was unable to make in-roads into the overall leader's advantage after the fifth and most demanding special stage of the event so far between Neuquén and San Rafaël in Argentina on Wednesday.
The three turbo-diesel 'Racing Lancers arrived at the bivouac within the confines of the race circuit at San Rafaël, having set the fifth, seventh and eighth fastest times on the stage. The result meant that the three Mitsubishi crews held fourth, sixth and eighth in the overall classification, but there was a late scare for defending champion, Stéphane Peterhansel (France).
He and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret (France) had moved into contention for a stage win in the early part of the special and were the virtual leaders at the 102km point, despite starting from eighth position on the road.
They maintained their pace through the 230km point and had opened up a 1m 42s lead heading into the second section of the special, although Dieter Depping (Germany) pipped them to the fastest time at the 230km.
Peterhansel was a mere 10 seconds behind heading into a sea of sand dunes at the end of the stage. Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) eventually set the fastest time and Peterhansel crossed the finish line in fourth position, but drama had unfolded 15km before the end of the stage for the defending champion.
He descended a sand dune and was heading for the foot of a second dune, when the Mitsubishi hit a patch of camel grass and flipped over. The impact damaged the car's bodywork and radiator.
Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard (both France) started the stage in third position behind the two overall leaders, Carlos Sainz (Spain) and Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Qatar) and were running in seventh position through the opening passage control at 230km. Alphand slipped to 10th through PC2 and finished the stage in seventh, a puncture not helping his cause.
Crews covered a technical and twisty opening section of the stage, before beginning a climb into a range of small mountains to a height of 2,300 meters. This guided them into the first real complex of sand dunes for around 60km towards the end of the stage.
Joan 'Nani' Roma and Lucas Cruz Senra (both Spain) were fifth on the road this morning and were classified in ninth position through the opening two passage controls. They finished the grueling stage in eighth in their BFGoodrich-shod 'Racing Lancer', despite two slow punctures in the course of the stage.
Four hundred and twenty vehicles were classified at the end of the fourth leg, but an unofficial 23 cars, bikes and trucks failed to restart this morning, as the original entry of 530 vehicles was further reduced.
Tomorrow (Thursday) is the last of the special stages on the event's first of two visits to Argentina and consists of a 76km liaison into a 395km special stage to Argentina's fourth city, Mendoza, overlooked on the western horizon by the Andes mountains.
The city stands 824 metres above sea level in a region famous for its wine industry and is a popular stop-off for tourists interested in climbing, skiing, rafting and hiking pursuits.
The stage heads through the northern Patagonian lakeland and turns north to a finish south of Pareditas. A 154km liaison then takes crews into the overnight halt in Mendoza, with the towering volcanic peak of Tupungatito rising to 6,550 metres in the distance.
Overall positions on leg 5 (unofficial @ 16.15hrs):
1. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk von Zitzevitz (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg (T1.2) 5h 47m 43s
2. Dieter Depping (D)/Timo Gottschalk (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg (T1.2) 5h 50m 01s
3. Robbie Gordon (USA)/Andy grider (USA) Hummer (Open 1) 5h 51m 55s
4. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC (T1.2) 5h 53m 06s
5. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret Mitsubishi Racing Lancer (T1.2) 5h 54m 55s
6. Mark Miller (USA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) Volkswagen Race Touareg (T1.2) 5h 56m 42s
7. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer (T1.2) 5h 57m 45s
8. Joan 'Nani' Roma (E)/Lucas Cruz Senra (E) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer (T1.2) 6h 01m 21s
9. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Race Touareg (T1.2) 6h 03m 25s
Overall positions after leg 5:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC (T1.2) 18h 44m 37s
2. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk von Zitzevitz (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg (T1.2) 18h 47m 01s
3. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Race Touareg (T1.2) 18h 51m 10s
4. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret Mitsubishi Racing Lancer (T1.2) 18h 58m 21s
5. Mark Miller (USA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) Volkswagen Race Touareg (T1.2) 19h 04m 32s
6. Joan 'Nani' Roma (E)/Lucas Cruz Senra (E) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer (T1.2) 19h 09m 06s
7. Robbie Gordon (USA)/Andy grider (USA) Hummer (Open 1) 19h 26m 25s
8. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer (T1.2) 19h 26m 41s
What they said?
Dominique Serieys, team director
"I thought that today would be the start of the real Dakar and I was right but, unfortunately, we did not have lady luck on our side this afternoon. Stéphane had a roll in the camel grass between the dunes and damaged the car. We will work all the night if necessary to repair it so that he can start again tomorrow. Luc and 'Nani' had flat tires, but are still in good positions."
"Very, very difficult today. Many competitors will have big problems. It was so long. There was a lot of time off piste in wadis and river beds. To the first PC was okay, but the way back was a nightmare. We nearly got stuck. It is grass in between sand, quite different and very difficult. The bottom of the dunes are very square, so you need a good technique to drive them."
"We descended a sand dune and were heading for the foot of a second dune, when the Mitsubishi hit a patch of camel grass and flipped over. The impact damaged the bodywork and the radiator and this affected the temperature of the engine, causing it to rise. Now I hope that the mechanics can repair the car here at the service park."
Joan 'Nani' Roma
"It was not easy. At the end it was difficult. The main thing is that we are here and still okay."
Live footage of the 2009 Dakar Rally can be seen on Eurosport at the following times:
18.05 hrs GMT - 18.30 hrs GMT
22.00 hrs GMT - 22.45 hrs GMT
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