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DAK X-raid team looks ahead to second half of 2011 Dakar Rally

MONSTER ENERGY X-RAID TEAM NEWS
33rd Personal Dakar Argentina-Chile (January 1st-16th, 2011)

Arica rest day

For immediate release
Saturday, January 8th, 2011

X-RAID TEAMS REACH DAKAR RALLY REST DAY IN ARICA IN
THIRD, FIFTH, SEVENTH, NINTH, 11TH AND 27TH POSITIONS

· Chilean President Sebastián Piñera visits Arica bivouac
· Chicherit firmly on track to give Mini All4 Racing dream debut
· Poland’s Holowczyc still aiming for podium finish
· Terranova and Palmeiro target top five finish in Buenos Aires
· Stephan Schott survives delays in soft sand into Arica rest day
· Sunday’s stage to Antofagasta shortened on safety grounds

ARICA (Chile): The Monster Energy X-raid team reached the half-way point of the 33rd Dakar Rally with six of the original seven cars still running strongly into the rest day in Arica on Saturday.

Sebastián Piñera, the President of Chile, visited the Arica bivouac on Saturday morning, carried out a tour of the facilities and met officials and members of the leading teams. Monster Energy support staff had hosted a barbecue and welcoming party for the X-raid team and select media in the bivouac the previous evening.

The French duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret lead the way for the Trebur-based team in third overall. Other X-raid crews hold fifth, seventh, ninth, 11th and 27th positions. Russian driver Leonid Novitskiy and German co-driver Andreas Schulz were the only crew to retire during the first half of the race.

Novitskiy broke two bones in his left-hand after it became trapped in the steering wheel after a heavy landing in a hole on stage five and he was forced to withdraw from the race.

Peterhansel could so easily have been the overall leader of the race after six stages, but the Frenchman suffered two punctures early in the race and an unprecedented four flat tyres on the sixth stage, in addition to losing over four minutes with a navigational mistake at a waypoint in the sand dunes. The succession of delays means that he starts the second half of the rally, 14m 51s behind Spain’s Carlos Sainz, in third overall.

“Yesterday was a very bad day for me,” said Peterhansel. “I know we have the pace and the speed to win the stages, but the luck is not with us at the moment.”

After losing almost an hour with brake disc problems and dropping to 78th overall through stage one, Guerlain Chicherit and Michel Périn have climbed back to ninth overall and are firmly on track to give the new Mini All4 Racing a superb debut finish on the Dakar.

“We had our fair share of problems this week, but that is the Dakar,” said Chicherit. “The car is still in one piece and we found out that the problem with the brakes was down to the lack of air flow and rear cooling.

“It was not easy on the stage to Arica. Michel (Périn) is obviously in a little pain with his hand. He is on some tablets and we had to stop for a time for him. It is good for him that we have the rest day. I feel great and hope that we can have a good second week. I would like to push a little harder, but the main goal is to reach the finish of the rally in Buenos Aires and that has to be the aim.

“For that reason, I will not take any risks. That means I will be competitive in the technical parts of the stages and slower in the fast parts where I slow down.”

Krzysztof Holowczyc and Jean-Marc Fortin will start Sunday’s seventh stage in fifth position in the overall rankings and the Pole has still not ruled out a podium finish.

“The stage to here was not the best for me,” said Holowczyc. “For sure, I do not like the fesh-fesh. If the organiser makes something like this for 20km, then that is fine, but to do it for 200km, you are shaking, shaking and this could break everything on the car. We will see how many cars will be broken.

“For me, it is a case of playing the waiting game. I have no reason to push. The top three guys are going hard. I could have a good close fight with (Mark) Miller and (Giniel) de Villiers, but it depends on the stage surfaces. When it is hard we have a good chance to gain time. We have a good engine and good suspension. But, when it is soft and slippery, maybe it is better for the ‘blue’ cars.”

Orlando Terranova and Filipe Palmeiro are confident that they can reach the top five in this year’s Dakar and hold seventh overall at the rest day. “The last two stages were hard for us,” admitted Palmeiro.

“At the beginning of the race, it was nice and everyone thought it would be easy, but now it is different. If it continues like this next week, I think it will be a very hard race. We are in a good position to start the second week. There is not as much pressure on us as they would be if we were at the front and I really think that we can reach the top five.”

Ricardo Leal Dos Santos and Paulo Fiùza hold 11th overall in their Monster Energy-backed BMW X3 CC. “Next week, for sure, I will be aiming for the top 10. Our speed is more than at least two of the cars above us, so I am quite relaxed that we can make 10th,” said Dos Santos. “If we do not make problems, then I am sure we can start to catch (Guilherme) Spinelli.

“The last two were hard Dakar-style stages. The fesh-fesh was too dangerous. Maybe a gap of one and a half hours between the cars and the bikes could help the situation. But some of the tracks in the mountains are not destroyed by run-off water and have barriers on the sides like snow. This is fantastic, because we can slide the car like a WRC rally car. The next stage could be the one that defines what happens.”

Stephan Schott and Holm Schmidt lost further time on the special stage into the rest day and eventually completed the special in 44th position in a time of exactly 10 hours after getting stuck on more than one occasion. The German now holds 27th in the overall standings.

Andrea Mayer, Thomas Baumann and Phillip Beier are still running in the trucks category in their MAN, despite stopping to support X-raid’s stricken Kamaz truck and offering support to Stephan Schott on stage five.

The crew stopped to help a couple of stranded teams on Friday and also overcame their own fair share of delays in the sand dunes. They reached Arica via the road section after leaving the special stage from the third passage control and incurred a potential 50 hours of time penalties for missing the last section of competition.

Tomorrow

On Sunday the route of the Dakar turns due south from Arica towards the Chilean mining hub at Antofagasta – the rest day location in 2010 - on the Pacific coast. Renowned for its vast copper reserves, Antofagasta is a booming business destination in Chile and should have hosted crews after they tackled two stages of 252km and 207km in length, split by a neutralisation section of 151km.

But race officials have decided to cancel the second competitive part on safety grounds for the tail-enders and all teams will, therefore, tackle just a 252km special.

The route will pass through Iquique for a second time, as it winds its way down Chile’s Pacific coast, via Solar Grande and Tocopilla, to Antofagasta.

Positions after stage 6 – Arica rest day
1. Carlos Sainz (E)/Lucas Cruz Senra (E) Volkswagen Race Touareg 20h 39m 41s
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Timo Gottschalk (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 20h 42m 23s
3. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) BMW X3 CC 20h 54m 32s
4. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 21h 10m 50s
5. Kryzsztof Holowczyc (PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) BMW X3 CC 21h 53m 00s
6. Mark Miller (USA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) Volkswagen Race Touareg 22h 15m 34s
7. Orlando Terranova (RA)/Filipe Palmeiro (P) BMW X3 CC 22h 17m 35s
8. Guilherme Spinelli (BR)/Youssef Haddad (BR) Mitsubishi Lancer 22h 57m 37s
9. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Michel Périn (F) Mini All4 Racing 23h 25m 06s
10. Christian Laveille (F)/Jean-Michel Polato (F) Nissan Dessoude 23h 47m 35s
11. Ricardo Leal Dos Santos (P)/Paulo Fiùza (P) BMW X3 CC 23h 50m 53s
12. Erik van Loon (NL)/Harmen Sholtalbers (NL) Mitsubishi Pajero 25h 28m 46s

Other X-raid team
27. Stephan Schott (D)/Holm Schmidt (D) BMW X3 CC 33h 18m 26s

Ends

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: s.marquard@x-raid.de and t.quandt@x-raid.de.

Date issued: 08/01/2011

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