CC Frenchman Alphand closes in on maiden Dakar Rally win

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2006 Dakar Rally

Weather conditions: warm and sunny with a strong breeze - 18/24C
Leg 14: Tambacounda - Dakar
Liaison; 107 kms; Special 254 kms; Liaison 273 kms

For immediate release
Saturday, January 14th, 2006


Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel hangs on to fourth place overall
Roma stays on track for final podium position despite navigational error

DAKAR, Sénégal - Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team driver Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard will take a 17m 53s overall advantage into the final 31 kms special stage of the 28th Dakar Rally on Sunday, after setting the eighth fastest time between Tambacounda and Dakar in Sénégal, today (Saturday).

Last year's runner-up drove cautiously through today's varied special stage to avoid making a costly mistake and finished in eighth position, dropping 4m 20s to his nearest South African rival Giniel de Villiers after a small navigational mistake. But the Frenchman will only need to coast around the final stage on Sunday to confirm a record-breaking sixth successive Dakar triumph for the Mitsubishi team.

~We were listening for every noise on the car,~ said Alphand. ~We had one very stressful moment. We weren't lost, but (Bruno) Saby, de Villiers, (Carlos) Sainz and myself all went the wrong way. I found myself in the middle of the Volkswagens. I was looking for number 305 and then we saw De Villiers and I decided to latch on to his tail. Finally we found the way easier than them and we were okay. Now I think it is very nearly finished. I hope that we can have a beach party on Sunday!~

Spaniard Joan 'Nani' Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne started the special behind the three Volkswagens of Carlos Sainz, Giniel de Villiers and Bruno Saby and were fastest overall to the first passage control. But they were delayed into the second passage control with a navigational mistake and finished the special in 18th position, 33 minutes behind the stage-winning Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit.

~We made one navigational mistake in a small village,~ said Roma. ~We made a 30 kms error and had to go back to the same village and start again. I did not panic. Henri was anxious for a minute, but I told him to relax because we had plenty of time in hand and there was no need to be nervous.~

Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret began the morning's special seventh on the road behind Thierry Magnaldi's Buggy and finished the stage with the 14th fastest time. They will start the final leg in fourth, albeit a mere 3m 01s ahead of American Mark Miller in the overall standings.

~We had some problems with the wiring to the tripmeters,~ said Peterhansel. ~There was a fire and it wiped out the tripmeters. We had to finish the last 100 kms of the stage without the trips. That makes the navigation very difficult.~

~Our objective was not to take the stage win, but to make sure that we took no risks and continued on our path towards Lac Rose on Sunday,~ said Repsol Mitsubishi Rallliart Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~I am pleased we made it safely to Dakar. Now we have one stage to go. Tomorrow Luc will line-up alongside De Villiers at the stage start. Cars will start in pairs on the last stage in position order, so it was important to play a tactical race today.~

(Tomorrow) Sunday is the final day of this year's Dakar Rally and offers a traditional sandy special stages en route to the finish at Lac Rose. The 31 kms stage begins 38 kms from the city center and offers a similar and varied route to last year, including the now famous run along the beach for the victorious teams.

Positions on SS14 (unofficial @ 13.00 hrs):
1. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Matthieu Baumel (F) BMW X3 CC 2h 36m 33s
2. Alfie Cox (ZA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) BMW X3 CC 2h 39m 46s
3. Mark Miller (USA)/Dirk Van Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 41m 40s
4. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 47m 05s
5. Thierry Magnaldi (F)/Arnaud Debron (F) Schlesser Buggy 2h 50m 29s
8. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 51m 25s
14. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 03m 54s
18. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 09m 32s

Positions after SS14 (unofficial @ 13.00 hrs):
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 53h 47m 32s
2. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 54h 05m 25s
3. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 55h 30m 10s
4. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 57h 07m 56s
5. Mark Miller (USA)/Dirk Van Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 57h 10m 57s
6. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser Buggy 57h 56m 55s
7. Carlos Sousa (P)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Nissan Pick-Up 59h 27m 43s
8. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 62h 02m 17s
9. Guerlain Chicherit (F)/Matthieu Baumel (F) BMW X3 CC 62h 12m 46s
10. Thierry Magnaldi (F)/Arnaud Debron (F) Schlesser Buggy 62h 13m 29s
11. Carlos Sainz (E)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 63h 51m 18s


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Date issued: 14/01/2006

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