DAK Chicherit and Novitskiy third and fifth into Cordoba

DAKAR RALLY 2009 (January 3rd-January 18th, 2009)

Leg 13: La Rioja - Córdoba
Liaison, 357 km; special, 220 km; liaison, 48 km; total, 625 km.

For immediate release
Friday, January 16th, 2008


· X-raid's Kuipers maintains 10th overall into Cordoba
· Chicherit eyes a possible challenge for 10th on final day

CÓRDOBA (Argentina): X-raid's Sails Capital Racing Team's three surviving BMW X3 CCs remained firmly on course to finish the 2009 Dakar Rally, after the penultimate and shortened special stage between La Rioja and Córdoba on Friday.

The French duo of Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Matthieu Baumel set the third fastest time, after being blocked in the dust by a slower Nissan, and X-raid Russia's Leonid Novitskiy and Oleg Tyupenkin recorded the fifth quickest time in a second BMW X3 CC.

"This was an interesting stage for me from the WRC, but I discussed this morning the fact that we would slow down and not take any risks," said Novitskiy. "We drove 100% safe today, no push, and will drive the same way tomorrow. We have no chance of making up a place to eighth, so there is no point pushing."

Dutchman René Kuipers and his Portuguese co-driver Filipe Palmiero finished 14th and maintained 10th overall, but the Dakar rookie heads into the final stage on Saturday morning a mere 8m 42s in front of team mate Chicherit, as both drivers chase the final place in the top 10, with Novitskiy safe in ninth overall.

"I was blocked again today on the stage for 80km," groaned Chicherit. "I will look tomorrow. If there is a clear track, then I might have a go, but I will not take any risks on the last stage."

"Everything was perfect for us today with no problems," said team director Sven Quandt. "It was a clean run for our cars, although Guerlain was blocked by one of the slower cars. He is only a short distance behind René, but it must be a driver decision if he is to try and get into the top 10!"

The special was shortened from 543km to just 220km by race officials, because of recent heavy rains in the Córdoba and La Rioja regions and started after a long 357km liaison section across the Catamarca Province.

The special actually began at the original PC4 (364km) point and used classic WRC Rally of Argentina terrain, finishing just short of Villa Carlos Paz, before a short liaison took crews to the bivouac on the outskirts of Córdoba. The ASO permitted 132 bikes and quads, 93 cars and 55 trucks to start the penultimate stage.

Novitskiy, Kuipers and Chicherit held ninth, 10th and 11th overall at the start of the stage, which didn't get underway for the cars until 13.54hrs. They were fifth, 10th and 22nd into the special, although Chicherit was running as the fastest car through a checkpoint at 62km, before slipping behind stage winner Joan Roma to settle for an eventual third place when he was baulked by the Nissan.

Portugal's Ricardo Leal Dos Santos started the penultimate stage in 76th position overall in his privately-run BMW X5 and started the stage 41st on the road this morning.

Tomorrow (Saturday) marks the final special stage on the 2009 Dakar Rally between Córdoba and Buenos Aires. Teams will use a 224km liaison section through Oliva, Villa Maria and Ballestros to the start of a 227km special stage, along similar gravel roads to the ones they experienced on day one into Santa Rosa de la Pampa.

The nerve-wracking stage will include two passage controls, near Marcos Juanez and Cruz Alta, and a final liaison through San Nicolas de Los Arroyos and Baradero Alsina will take teams back to Buenos Aires in readiness for the ceremonial finish on Sunday, January 18th. 

Overall positions on leg 13 (unofficial @ 17.25hrs):
1. Joan 'Nani' Roma (E)/Lucas Cruz Senra (E) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer             2h 33m 48s
2. Krzysztof Holowczyc (PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) Nissan Navara (T1.2)              2h 41m 06s
3. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Matthieu Baumel (F) BMW X3 CC (T1.2)  2h 41m 15s
4. Dieter Depping (D)/Timo Gottschalk (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg (T1.2)        2h 43m 48s
5. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS)/Oleg Tyupenkin (RUS) BMW X3 CC (T1.2)  2h 44m 21s

Other X-raid crew
14. René Kuipers (NL)/Filipe Palmeiro (P) BMW X3 CC (T1.2)                        2h 56m 17s

Overall positions after leg 13 of 14:
1. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk von Zitzevitz (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg (T1.2)  46h 35m 14s
2. Mark Miller (USA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) Volkswagen Race Touareg (T1.2)       46h 37m 34s
3. Robbie Gordon (USA)/Andy Grider (USA) Hummer (Open 1)             48h 02m 27s
4. Ivar Erik Tollefsen (N)/Quin Evans (GB) Nissan Navara (T1.2)            52h 30m 15s
5. Krzysztof Holowczyc (PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) Nissan Navara (T1.2)              53h 12m 46s
6. Joan 'Nani' Roma (E)/Lucas Cruz Senra (E) Mitsubishi Racing Lancer            54h 02m 22s
7. Dieter Depping (D)/Timokiottschalk (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg (T1.2)     55h 04m 09s
8. Miroslav Zapletal (CZ)/Tomas Ourednicek (CZ) Mitsubishi L200 (T1.2)           57h 27m 40s
9. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS)/Oleg Tyupenkin (RUS) BMW X3 CC (T1.2)           59h 50m 25s
10. René Kuipers (NL)/Filipe Palmeiro (P) BMW X3 CC (T1.2)                    61h 15m 31s
11. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Matthieu Baumel (F) BMW X3 CC  (T1.2)          61h 24m 13s


Further information and photos are available at www.x-raid.de or contact Yvette Theisen at X-raid GmbH, Tel: + 49 (0) 6147 204670, E-mail: y.theisen@x-raid.de.

Date issued: 16/01/2009

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