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CC Luc Alphand takes dramatic outright lead in Dakar Rally

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2006 Dakar Rally

Weather conditions: warm, dry, overcast and humid - 19/27C
Leg 12: Bamako - Labé
Liaison; 197 kms; Special 368 kms; Liaison 307 kms

For immediate release
Thursday, January 12th, 2006

REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART TEAM DRIVER ALPHAND WINS STAGE AND TAKES OVERALL DAKAR RALLY LEAD INTO GUINEA

Frenchman Peterhansel's title defence shattered after collision with a tree;
Spaniard Roma completes stage into Labé with sixth fastest time

LABE, Guinea - Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team driver Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret lost the outright lead of the 28th Dakar Rally to team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard, after a dramatic 368 kms special stage between Bamako and Labé in the Republic of Guinea, today (Thursday).

Defending champion Peterhansel had begun the day with a 25-minute lead over his team mate and was classified fifth through the first passage control. But the Frenchman stopped 15 kms from the second control point after hitting a tree and damaging his Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution at the 278 kms point.

He lost a little over one hour making repairs to the rear left-hand suspension and transmission of the car, but was forced to stop again shortly after the second passage control. The crew were still waiting for the Mitsubishi assistance truck near the end of the stage at 16.45 hrs (CET).

Team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard had been fastest overall at the 214 kms point, until they caught Bruno Saby's dust. They passed the Frenchman before PC2 and arrived at the control in the dust of front-runner Giniel de Villiers.

But last year's runner-up went on to set the outright fastest time and moved into the overall lead of the event for the first time in his career. He will take a 20m 31s advantage over De Villiers into the special stage between Labé and Tambacounda on Friday.

Spaniard Joan 'Nani' Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne began the day unchallenged in fourth place and were sixth through the opening passage control and eighth through PC2. They completed the stage in sixth position and moved up to third overall following Peterhansel's problems.

~I said in Nouakchott that anything can happen at any time on this race,~ said Repsol Mitsubishi Rallliart Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~Stéphane had a collision with a tree today, but Luc did a great job for us. We had a lead of over one hour, but then we had navigation trouble and both our drivers hit a tree, so now Luc must be very careful. I am pleased that he is first on the road on Friday. It means he will stay out of the dust. Nani will need to try and protect Luc without taking any risks.~

Tomorrow (Friday) the event crosses from Guinea into Sénégal and teams will begin to feel they are on the home straight. The special begins a mere seven kilometers out of Labé and finishes 348 kms to the north en route to the overnight halt at Tambacounda. A 212 kms liaison completes the day's timetable and steers teams into the remote eastern Sénégalese town.

But this is a special stage with a difference and crews will cross several mountaineous passes up to an altitude of 1,000 meters where dust will be a problem and there will be limited opportunities to overtake.

Positions on SS12 (unofficial @ 14.30 hrs):
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 22m 46s
2. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Matthieu Baumel (F) BMW X3 CC 4h 23m 42s
3. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 4h 26m 07s
4. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 4h 27m 18s
5. Mark Miller (USA)/Dirk Van Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 4h 29m 42s
6. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 30m 50s

Positions after SS12 (unofficial @ 14.30 hrs):*
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 46h 25m 52s
2. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 46h 46m 23s
3. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 47h 46m 38s
4. Mark Miller (USA)/Dirk Van Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 49h 25m 45s
5. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser Buggy 50h 10m 45s
6. Carlos Sousa (P)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Nissan Pick-Up 51h 30m 58s
7. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 54h 25m 20s
8. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Matthieu Baumel (F) BMW X3 CC 54h 31m 02s
9. Thierry Magnaldi (F)/Arnaud Debron (F) Schlesser Buggy 54h 38m 17s

TBA. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution TBA*
*awaiting assistance truck in special stage

Ends

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Florian Moser
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Date issued: 12/01/2006

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