CC Spaniard Roma takes 25 second lead into final day of Transiberico Rally

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

Vodafone Transiberico Rally, May 12th-15th, 2006
2006 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, round three

Leg 3 - Liaison 152.16 km, Special 155.74 km, Liaisons 7.36 km, Special 155.74 km, Liaison 74.66 km – Total 545.66 km

Weather conditions: hot and sunny – 16C-27C

For immediate release
Sunday, May 14th 2006


• Roma and Magne take 25-second advantage over De Villers into final day;
• Starter problems and flat tire spoil Alphand’s chances on Spanish stages

CÅCERAS (Spain) – Spaniard Joan ‘Nani’ Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne extended their overnight advantage from nine to 25 seconds after two punishing special stages, which made up the third leg of the 2nd Vodafone Transiberico Rally in western Spain, today (Sunday).

French team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard maintained third position in a second Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution, but lost four minutes with starter problems in the first stage of the day and sustained a time-consuming flat tire near the start of the repeat run on Sunday afternoon. They will start the final day 8m 25s behind their team mates.

Roma and Magne led from the front this morning and extended their leg two advantage over South African Giniel de Villiers to 1m 20s after setting the fastest time in SS3. They finished the second stage 55 seconds behind their rival, but will take a 25-second lead into the final three stages in Portugal on Monday.

“The problem I found this morning was finding a fast line through the stage,” said Roma. “I lost a lot of time early on. There were no tracks. I was making the tracks for the others to follow. On several occasions I saw that I was not on the fastest line. It was frustrating. But I was much happier for the second lap. I could see where I made mistakes this morning and was able to take a quicker line.”

Alphand and Picard began the day 57s behind their team mates and in third position on the road. They were running at such a pace that they would have taken the overall lead at the end of the opening stage, until they stalled and lost valuable time restarting the Mitsubishi’s V6 engine.

“We went straight on at a left-hand corner, but only for five meters,” groaned Alphand. “I maybe braked too much and the engine cut out and would not restart. We waited and I tried many times to start the engine. Gilles eventually got out of the car and we had to push it to get going again.”

“It was such an annoying thing,” added co-driver Picard. “The engine stopped. Luc selected reverse gear and it was impossible to start the car. I had no option but to push.”

Today’s pair of 155.74 km special stages ran on punishing terrain just across the border in Spain to the south-east of Portalegre and to the north of the Portuguese town of Elvas and the larger Spanish town of Badajoz. Servicing was centralised on the outskirts of the village of Alburquerque.

Roma soon came under pressure from De Villiers this morning and the South African was ahead after 16 km, with Alphand a mere five seconds behind. Roma slipped over a minute adrift of De Villiers at the 40 km point, after finding it difficult to run as the first car on the stage, while Alphand slipped into contention for the outright lead by running ahead of his two rivals. He was a full 19s quicker that De Villiers after 40 km.

After 100 km, Germany’s Matthias Kahle was running on a similar pace to Alphand, although the Frenchman looked to be heading for the outright lead of the event until he approached that innocuous left-hand corner and stalled the engine. Kahle also hit problems and Roma duly coasted to his second successive stage win and extended his overall lead over De Villiers to 1m 20s, as Alphand slipped 5m 18s behind his team mate.

With renewed confidence and a better knowledge of the special for the repeat run, Roma decided to try and press home his advantage. He and De Villiers were inseparable after 40 km, but Alphand punctured and fell a further three minutes behind his rivals. De Villiers edged 15s ahead of Roma at the 81 km point and 20s in front after 101 km, but the Spaniard remained in close contention to finish the stage 55 seconds behind his rival.

‘I am disappointed with what happened with Luc’s car today on the first stage,” said MMSP’s Team Director Dominique Serieys. “Maybe there was a mistake by one of the mechanics, but we cannot afford things like this if we want to keep up our winning streak. I was pleased with Nani’s performance. He started slowly and really pushed hard when it mattered. He did a great job today and is making excellent progress.”

“This is developing into a very interesting race,” said MMSP’s Team President Isao Torii. “Our rivals are getting better and it is getting closer each day. On some sections of the stages we are quicker. On others the VWs are faster. It is fascinating. We have to learn from this and put the information to good use in our preparations for the next Dakar.”

Tomorrow (Monday), the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart will tackle the longest and potentially most difficult final leg of this year’s Vodafone Transiberico Rally. Three 112.32 km special stages are planned after a 146.04 km liaison returns teams across the border into Portugal. Servicing will be centralised in Castelo Branco, before a 254.29 km liaison returns the surviving crews to Estoril, south-west of Lisbon.

Positions on SS3 (155.74 km):
1. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutio 2h 01m 09s
2. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 02m 20s
3. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 05m 30s
4. Josef Sykora (SK)/Marek Sykora (SK) Miktsubishi Pajero/Montero 2h 10m 43s
5. Pedro Grancha (P)/Pedro Tavares (P) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2h 11m 11s

Positions on SS4 (155.74 km):
1. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 1h 54m 41s
2. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1h 55m 36s
3. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1h 58m 43s
4. Matthias Kahle (D)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 1h 59m 54s

Positions at end of leg 3 (unofficial):
1. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 10h 15m 38s
2. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 10h 16m 03s
3. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 10h 24m 03s
4. Matthias Kahle (D)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 10h 55m 24s
5. Pedro Grancha (P)/Pedro Tavares (P) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 11h 04m 52s
6. Filipe Campos (P)/Jaime Baptista (P) Renault Mégane 11h 14m 17s


Copyright free photographs and driver profiles for editorial media only can be downloaded from www.mmsp-media.com

For further information please contact Florian Moser, MMSP’s Communications Department:
MMSP GmbH, Adam-Opel-Str. 4
D 65468 Trebur-Astheim
Florian Moser
Telephone +49 (0) 172 6697 578
E-mail f.moser@mitsubishi-motor-sports.com

Date issued: 14/05/2006

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