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DAK Peterhansel slips further behind Dakar rivals into Copiapo

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

Stage 8: Antofagasta-Copiapó: liaison, 268km; special, 508km; liaison, 0km; total, 776km.

Weather conditions: hot and sunny, 23-30°C (slight breeze)

For immediate release
Monday, January 10th, 2011

MONSTER ENERGY X-RAID TEAM’S PETERHANSEL AND COTTRET
SLIP FURTHER BEHIND LEADERS ON DAKAR STAGE INTO COPIAPÓ

· Qatar’s Al-Attiyah snatches last gasp overall lead in Copiapó
· Electrical niggle costs Holowczyc crucial time and fifth overall
· Dos Santos completed punishing special in seventh position

COPIAPÓ (Chile): The Monster Energy X-raid team duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret lost further time to their arch rivals, Carlos Sainz and Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, on the eighth special stage of the 33rd Personal Dakar Argentina-Chile between Antofagasta and Copiapó in the Atacama desert on Monday.

Punctures and a persistent overheating problem were again the bugbear for the three-time former Dakar winners and their BMW X3 CC crossed the finish line 1h 13m 41s behind stage winner and new race leader, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah.

Peterhansel now trails the Qatari by 1h 33m 30s and second-placed Sainz by 1h 28m 16s heading into the final five stages of the event. He also lost third overall to South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and faces a fight-back over the remaining five stages to reclaim the final podium position before the finish in Buenos Aires on Sunday afternoon.

“A very bad day,” said Peterhansel. “We had three punctures, but then the worst problem was at the end. The engine was running too hot so we changed the visco (fan) and after the temperature began to go up again and it was necessary to stop six or seven times to find some water.

“Now there is a big gap with the leaders. For three days we have so many delays. We are really disappointed now.”

Krzysztof Holowczyc and Jean-Marc Fortin began the stage in fifth overall and fifth on the road, but they were delayed with electrical problems and forced to make emergency repairs. The crew dropped 15 and then 52 minutes to carry out repairs and then suffered a further problem and stopped again at 119km.

The delays meant the Pole slipped to a virtual sixth behind Mark Miller in the general classification. He passed PC2 over 90 minutes behind Miller and was in danger of losing his sixth place to the pursuing group. But he found a useful pace through the latter sections of the special in the dunes and claimed the provisional 11th fastest time.

“The loom for the alternator was broken and we drove for two hours without the battery charging,” said Holowczyc. “I decide to take the alternator out and I noticed that the loom was broken. In ‘Polish style’ I opened the wire, took a washer and some plastic and fixed it with tape. I was sure that will all the shaking it would not work, but we made it all the way to the finish!

“Nani Roma lost seven hours with this problem. We had the same problem and lost one hour and a half. That is not so bad. We also had flat tyres after when we tried to pass all the trucks. It is not so easy on the stony ground. One of the flat tyres was very heavy and it broke the rim and the brake pipe and we had to stop again. Stephan (Schott) was very helpful and stopped to help us to change the brake pipe.”

“Today has been a very bad day,” said X-raid team director Sven Quandt. “We had two cars with problems - Stéphane again with tyres and some small other things and Krzysztof with electrical problems, but I still think we have the chance to get the third position back.”

Ricardo Leal Dos Santos and Paulo Fiùza had moved up to ninth in the general classification in Antofagasta and were the sixth crew into the day’s special. They were running 10th through the checkpoint at 143km and in a similar placing at PC2. The Portuguese found a good rhythm during the afternoon and passed PC4 in a virtual eighth overall on the special that he completed in a fine seventh position.

“We had three punctures and were in a panic mode with 150km of the stage to go,” said Dos Santos. “Two of those were in 500 metres of each other. When we changed one of the wheels the jack bent, so we had to undo the jack and start again with the manual (jack).

“We overtook (Guilherme) Spinelli when he stopped to change a wheel and we did not see him again. This stage was really hard. I do not know how the back guys will manage to get through. The dunes at the end were the easiest part for us.”

Germany’s Stephan Schott and Holm Schmidt began the eighth stage in 22nd overall and 25th on the road. They passed PC2 in 47th overall and were unofficially 23rd at PC5 after losing some time stopping to assist their Polish team-mate.

“If I am honest I wanted to try and finish the Dakar in the top 15,” said Schott before the stage start. “At the moment I am a little off that goal but, when you have lost two and a half hours and then three and a half hours on two stages, it takes a lot of catching up.”

Andrea Mayer, Thomas Baumann and Phillip Beier reached the bivouac in Antofagasta in 36th position on Sunday’s stage and classified in 40th overall. They were the 38th of the competitive trucks on the road this morning and running in 31st position through PC2.

“It is not so easy to pass some of the dunes in our support truck,” admitted Baumann. “We are probably about eight tonnes heavier that the Kamaz race trucks, because of all the spares we are carrying, and we have less power. It is important to keep up the speed to pass the dunes. They are long days. It is quite a challenge.”

Stage 8

Today’s 508km special started 268km from the Antofagasta bivouac and featured a vast array of difficult features, including tricky navigation, several ergs, soft sand, stony and gravely terrain and faster section.

The marathon special included no less than seven passage controls at the 55km, 143km, 150km, 377km, 418km, 453km and 503km points. There were numerous climbs and descents in a true classic Dakar stage.

Eighty-eight of the original starters were permitted to start the special and Mark Miller was the leader at the 42km point, with Peterhansel tucked safely away in second position and able to take a little time back from Al-Attiyah and Sainz.

But the Frenchman sustained yet another puncture on the passage towards PC2 and dropped 3m 16s to the front-running Sainz. Al-Attiyah was running as the first driver on the stage and had already dropped 1m 17s to his Spanish team-mate. Peterhansel had lost further time by the 191km checkpoint and was running 7m 27s behind Sainz after further flat tyres

By the 377km point, Sainz had extended his virtual stage lead over Al-Attiyah to 2m 24s, as the pair began to pull away from De Villiers, Miller and Peterhansel. Peterhansel was 18m 55s behind the Spaniard at PC4 and the gap had extended to 22m 27s by PC5 when overheating problems persisted. Sainz got stuck in the dunes between the sixth and seventh PCs and Al-Attiyah inherited a shock lead.

Peterhansel stopped again at the 430km point and then once more at 449km. The disappointed Monster Energy X-raid team driver eventually reached the stage finish 1h 13m 41s adrift of Al-Attiyah in sixth place.

Copiapó is the capital of the Copiapó Province and Atacama region and lies in a rich silver and copper mining district. It is surrounded by the Atacama desert.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow (Tuesday) teams will tackle a potentially underestimated 235km loop stage through the Atacama desert around Copiapó. Treacherous sand dunes await in a stage which is split by two PCs and numerous sand traps. Although short, it could well be the decisive special stage in this year’s Dakar Rally.

Positions on stage 8 (unofficial @ 18.15hrs):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Timo Gottschalk (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 5h 16m 30s
2. Carlos Sainz (E)/Lucas Cruz Senra (E) Volkswagen Race Touareg 5h 23m 06s
3. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 5h 33m 52s
4. Mark Miller (USA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) Volkswagen Race Touareg 5h 36m 31s
5. Joan Roma (E)/Gilles Picard (F) Nissan Overdrive 6h 09m 21s
6. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) BMW X3 CC 6h 30m 11s
7. Ricardo Leal Dos Santos (P)/Paulo Fiùza (P) BMW X3 CC 6h 38m 41s
8. Matthias Kahle (D)/Thomas Schuenemann (D) SMG Buggy 6h 39m 39s
9. Christian Laveille (F)/Jean-Michel Polato (F) Nissan Dessoude 6h 40m 06s

Other X-raid teams
11. Kryzsztof Holowczyc (PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) BMW X3 CC 7h 27m 52s
TBA. Stephan Schott (D)/Holm Schmidt (D) BMW X3 CC TBA

Positions after stage 8 (unofficial @ 18.15hrs):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Timo Gottschalk (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 28h 39m 50s
2. Carlos Sainz (E)/Lucas Cruz Senra (E) Volkswagen Race Touareg 28h 45m 04s
3. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Race Touareg 29h 28m 35s
4. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) BMW X3 CC 30h 13m 20s
5. Mark Miller (USA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) Volkswagen Race Touareg 31h 12m 13s
6. Kryzsztof Holowczyc (PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) BMW X3 CC 32h 18m 49s
7. Christian Laveille (F)/Jean-Michel Polato (F) Nissan Dessoude 33h 28m 45s
8. Ricardo Leal Dos Santos (P)/Paulo Fiùza (P) BMW X3 CC 33h 31m 19s

Other X-raid team
TBA. Stephan Schott (D)/Holm Schmidt (D) BMW X3 CC TBA

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: 10/01/2011

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