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CC Luc Alphand extends Dakar Rally lead into Tambacounda

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2006 Dakar Rally

Weather conditions: warm and sunny with a breeze - 24/28C
Leg 13: Labé - Tambacounda
Liaison; 7 kms; Special 348 kms; Liaison 212 kms

For immediate release
Friday, January 13th, 2006

REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART DRIVER ALPHAND EXTENDS DAKAR RALLY LEAD WITH SECOND SUCCESSIVE STAGE WIN

Spaniard Roma takes fifth fastest into Tambacounda to hold third place;
Frenchman Peterhansel fights back through the field to maintain fourth overall

TAMBACOUNDA, Sénégal - Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team driver Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard extended their overall lead in the 28th Dakar Rally to 22m 13s, after winning their second successive special stage between Labé in Guinea and Tambacounda in eastern Sénégal, today (Friday).

The French crew had begun this morning's stage first on the road and with a lead of 20m 31s over South African Giniel de Villiers. They took advantage of a clear track to post the fastest time at both the first and second passage controls and Alphand maintained his pace to the stage finish.

~It was a big advantage to be first on the road,~ said Alphand. ~We had an excellent pace, but were under pressure from Giniel and wanted to make no mistakes with the navigation. It was a tough stage with many turns, like a trial sometimes in first gear among the rocks. I knew that the BMW was not far behind as well, so it was quite exciting. We can control the race tomorrow. We can let Giniel past and then follow the dust. To be here was the goal. We hit a rock, but all is okay.~

Spaniard Joan 'Nani' Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne began the day sixth on the road and in fourth place. Roma was seventh through PC1 and finished the section with the fifth fastest time to maintain the final podium place on the penultimate major African stage.

~I can sense Dakar is very close,~ said a smiling Roma. ~Today I had two punctures and broke a wheel. Every kilometer was so dangerous. It is not possible to catch Giniel now, but we have a big lead over Stéphane and will be able to drive our own race on Saturday. I am not concerned with the VWs. The race and my destiny are in my own hands.~

Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret had arrived in the Labé bivouac at 20.10 hrs on Thursday evening, after losing three hours with damaged rear suspension following an accident. The defending champions began this morning's stage in 60th place on the road, after losing 3h 10m on Thursday and slipping to fourth overall.

But they began a charge through the backmarkers over today's stage and had overtaken more than 30 slower cars by the first PC to post the eighth fastest time. Peterhansel was up to seventh at PC2 and completed the stage in seventh place to maintain fourth overall.

~Luc was first on the road and I suppose he drove a perfect stage today,~ said Repsol Mitsubishi Rallliart Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~He showed that he can cope with the pressure of being in front. I am sure that our cars and those of our competitors are not as strong as they were at the start in Portugal. It was been a very tough rally.

~But I am confident that Luc and Gilles can hold off the cars behind. It has been a great competition so far - a really exciting race. Stéphane did a good job today. He is a champion, but he made a mistake yesterday. We must remember that he is a human being and not a machine.~

Tomorrow (Saturday) is the last of the long stages on this year's Dakar Rally and the route will take the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team to Dakar and within sight of the finish on Sunday. After a 107 kms liaison, the 254 kms special stage heads north and then in a westerly direction to a finish 273 kms from the coastal capital of Sénégal.

This stage has caused several problems in the past for surviving crews, as teams pass numerous crowded villages on a myriad of tracks where navigation and extreme care are crucial.

Positions on SS13 (unofficial @ 14.50 hrs):
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 30m 15s
2. Carlos Sainz (E)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 4h 31m 05s
3. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 4h 31m 57s
4. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 4h 40m 34s
5. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 42m 00s
6. Thierry Magnaldi (F)/Arnaud Debron (F) Schlesser Buggy 4h 44m 43s
7. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 47m 05s

Positions after SS13 (unofficial @ 14.50 hrs):
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 50h 56m 07s
2. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 51h 18m 20s
3. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 52h 28m 38s
4. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 54h 04m 02s
5. Mark Miller (USA)/Dirk Van Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 54h 29m 17s
6. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser Buggy 55h 10m 37s
7. Carlos Sousa (P)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Nissan Pick-Up 56h 20m 08s
8. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 59h 05m 54s
9. Thierry Magnaldi (F)/Arnaud Debron (F) Schlesser Buggy 59h 23m 00s
10. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Matthieu Baumel (F) BMW X3 CC 59h 36m 12s
11. Carlos Sainz (E)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 60h 44m 00s

Ends

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Date issued: 13/01/2006

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