CC Guerlain Chicherit leads in Portugal and closes in on FIA world title
X-RAID TEAM NEWS
TRANSIBERICO RALLY (June 18th-21st, 2009)
FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, round 3
For immediate release
Saturday, June 20th, 2009
X-RAID’S GUERLAIN CHICHERIT TAKES TRANSIBERICO
RALLY LEAD AND CLOSES IN ON FIA WORLD TITLE
- Moniz da Maia surges into third; Roma stumped in sixth stage
- X-raid’s Filipe Campos loses overall lead in SS5
BEJA (Portugal): Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner remained firmly on course to clinch the 2009 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies after moving into the outright lead at the end of the third leg of the four-day Transiberico Rally.
Chicherit inherited the overall lead in the fifth special stage, despite being beaten to the fastest time by X-raid colleague Joan ‘Nani’ Roma and his French co-driver Michel Perin.
The Frenchman then set the fastest time in the sixth special in his BMW X3 CC and heads into Sunday’s final two timed sections with a massive 1h 04m 55s lead over the second-placed Portuguese crew of Helder Oliveira and Filipe Palmeiro.
“I’m obviously in a great position now heading into the final day,” said Chicherit. “But it has not been easy. The stages have been very tricky. Today’s special was technical, twisty and you had to focus 100% all the time because one small mistake could prove costly.”
Roma’s fifth stage success moved him up to 25th in the overall rankings after first day delays cost him any chance of claiming a podium finish. But the Catalan stopped in the sixth selective section after clouting a tree stump. He became wedged on the stump, but eventually managed to free the stricken BMW and regained the track for a further 10km.
But the crew then took the decision to retire and return to the service area for the car to be repaired. Roma will now carry out a full day of competition on Sunday.
“It was important for Michel and I to get back into a rally car again and this event has been important for us,” said Roma at service before his problem on the sixth stage. “Some of the narrow tracks may be a bit like some of the terrain we may face in Argentina on the Dakar next year and it’s great to be back in harness with the new team.”
Portugal’s Filipe Campos and co-driver Jaime Baptista held a 4m 02s overall advantage at the start of Saturday’s third leg and were fastest at the first checkpoint through the fifth selective section, but Campos clouted a tree stump at the 150km point and the impact damaged a wheel rim, broke the A-arm and a suspension upright.
The Portuguese crew were unable to continue, although Campos hopes to restart on Sunday if his BMW X3 CC can be repaired by X-raid mechanics in Beja.
Bernardo Moniz da Maia and Joana Sotto-Mayor began the third leg in seventh position in the overall standings in a fourth BMW X3 CC. They set the fifth fastest time in the fifth selective section and moved up to an excellent fourth overall following Campos’s retirement, problems for Portugal’s Carlos Sousa and Guilherme Spinelli’s withdrawal through illness.
Late problems for Miguel Barbosa propelled the Portuguese into a stunning third overall and Moniz da Maia heads into the final leg 8m 54s ahead of fourth-placed Edgar Condenso and on track for a stunning career-best finish.
“Guerlain remains on course for a fantastic result,” enthused X-raid’s team director Sven Quandt. “We have already told him to slow down and take no risks. The accidents for Filipe and ‘Nani’ have been unfortunate, but the performance of Bernardo has been superb. It looks like he will be fighting for a podium finish on the final leg and that will be great for his confidence.”
Tomorrow (Sunday) is the final leg of the Transiberico Rally and includes two further selective sections between Beja and the finish of the event in Estoril.
2009 Transiberico Rally – positions after leg 3:
1. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Tina Thörner BMW X3 CC 11h 23m 09s
2. Helder Oliveira (P)/Filipe Palmeiro (P) Nissan Pathfinder 12h 28m 04s
3. Bernardo Moniz da Maia (P)/Joana Sotto-Mayor (P) BMW X3 CC 12h 46m 23s
4. Edgar Condenso (P)/Nuno Silva (P) Nissan Pick-Up 12h 55m 17s
5. Rodolphe Deveaux (P)/Luis Ramalho (P) Mitsubishi Pajero 13h 03m 43s
6. Fernando André (P)/Luis Gomes (P) Renault Mégane 13h 06m 59s, etc
*bold denotes X-raid drivers
Further information and photos are available at www.x-raid.de or contact Stefanie Marquard/Thomas Quandt at X-raid GmbH, Tel: + 49 (0) 6147 204670, E-mail: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.