CC Al Attiyah seals superb second place in Transiberico Rally

TRANSIBERICO RALLY (May 20th-25th, 2008)
FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, round 2

For immediate release
Sunday, May 25th, 2008


X-raid's Terranova and Palmer retire with broken engine belt
Transiberico Rally victory for Frenchman Luc Alphand

ESTORIL (Portugal): The AlgoDyne Green Power Racing Team finished the punishing five-day Transiberico Rally, round two of the 2008 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, in second position on Sunday (May 25th).

Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner led the way for the X-raid team with the hard-earned runner-up spot in the first of two official BMW X3 CCs. Argentinean team mate Orlando Terranova and Australian co-driver Lee Palmer held sixth position in the overall standings before retiring on day four with a damaged engine timing belt.

The event passed through some of the most remote terrain in Spain and Portugal and was won by the French crew of Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard. Al-Attiyah set several fastest times for the Trebur-based team, but a costly roll on the first of the longer stages cost him any chance of victory.

"It was an incredible feat for Nasser to get back to second position after losing so much time early on," said X-raid team director Sven Quandt. "It was maybe a disadvantage for us to have one top driver against three drivers in the team of our main rivals, but Nasser recorded four stage wins and Mitsubishi needed three drivers to take five stage wins.

"We again showed that we are very competitive, especially with Nasser on these WRC-type stages. It was a very wet rally and we only really saw dust on one stage. The tracks were slippery, so the result is all the more pleasing for the team."

"We have proved again that we have the package with the BMW X3 CC to deliver top results at the very highest level," said Al-Attiyah. "I made a mistake near the start of the race and that cost me the chance to take the win. But we set several fastest times and took the fight to Mitsubishi all through the race."

The five-day event started in Mafra, north-west of Lisbon, and featured a total stage distance of 1,442.48km. It began with a 7.38km super special stage on Wednesday, May 21st and continued on Thursday with a pair of 207.49km special stages to the first overnight halt close to the Spanish border at Castelo Branco.

Al-Attiyah got the X-raid team off to a superb start by capturing the fastest time on the super special, the Qatari heading the 57-car field by 3.2 seconds from second-placed Portuguese driver Miguel Barbosa. X-raid colleague Terranova was down in ninth position, a mere 22.2 seconds behind Al-Attiyah.

Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel moved into a 1m 05s outright lead through the second 207.49km special along forested mountain trails on Thursday morning and Mitsubishi recorded a first ever stage win for the diesel-engined Pajero on the second run through the special, where Spaniard Joan Roma set the fastest time close to the Spanish border and snatched the overall lead.

Terranova was down in fifth position on both the opening specials and held fourth at the end of the day, but Al-Attiyah lost his outright lead for the X-raid team when he rolled at speed between 80 and 90km into SS2 and dropped to 13th position. "We broke the front left-hand brake disc and several panels were damaged on the car," admitted Nasser.

The Qatari bounced back on the second of the day's specials to record the third fastest time and headed into the overnight halt in sixth place, albeit 18m 32s behind the leader.

Teams stayed at Badajoz in Spain on Friday evening after two runs through the 140.58km special near Valverde des Fresno. Overnight rain made conditions difficult and event organisers took the decision to shorten the special, with the start and finish remaining at the same place, but a 69km loop section was dropped, bringing the stage distance down to 73.25km.

Al-Attiyah was in dominant form for the X-raid team and set the fastest time on the fourth stage, where rival Peterhansel crashed out of contention and plummeted down the leaderboard. The Qatari beat overall leader Roma by 57 seconds and moved into third position, 17m 35s behind the leading Spaniard. Terranova held sixth place.

Al-Attiyah repeated his fastest time on the fifth stage, the X3 CC driver beating a resurgent Peterhansel by 23 seconds, as Terranova clinched the ninth fastest time. Roma maintained the overall lead, Terranova rose to fifth, but Al-Attiyah slipped to ninth overall when 26 minutes of time penalties were imposed because it took a long time to repair the car.

Saturday's route took the X-raid team back across the border into Portugal for a pair of 204.40km runs through a stage near Mora and an overnight halt at Evora. Brighter conditions prevailed, although it did rain during the course of the sixth stage, which featured several water splashes and was again won by Al-Attiyah.

The X-raid driver beat overall leader Roma by 3m 18s to move back into fourth place in the overall rankings, behind the Spaniard, Frenchman Luc Alphand and Portugal's Filipe Campos in a privately-entered BMW X3 CC. Terranova was fourth on the stage and maintained fifth overall.

Roma was delayed by mechanical problems in the seventh stage, where new leader Luc Alphand set the fastest time and Al-Attiyah moved up to second overall with the second quickest stage time - 8m 28s faster than Dakar champion Peterhansel - despite damp conditions. Terranova retired from the event with a broken engine belt after suffering transmission problems.

Sunday's final leg featured a pair of 165.08km specials in Portugal before the official finish at Estoril. Al-Attiyah trailed Alphand by 35m 12s and looked set to settle for second position. He was third quickest through SS7 in drying conditions and headed into the final 165km keen to maintain his second place in the overall standings.

Roma clinched the fastest time on the final stage, but Al-Attiyah held on to confirm second overall for the X-raid team with the fourth fastest time and prove, once again, that the BMW X3 CC is a competitive force in world Cross-Country rallying and the Qatari could well have challenged for the outright victory if it had not been for his day two accident.

2008 Transiberico Rally -  positions after day five (unofficial)
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution       16h 25m 28s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC  17h 01m 14s 
3. Filipe Campos (P)/Jaime Baptista (P) BMW X3 CC   17h 11m 25s
4. Helder Oliveira (P)/José Marques (P) Nissan Pathfinder  17h 33m 54s
5. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 17h 38m 33s
6. Leonid Novitsky (RUS)/Oleg Tyupenkin (RUS) BMW X3 CC  17h 58m 01s


Further information and photos are available at www.x-raid.de or contact Yvette Theisen at X-raid GmbH, Tel: + 49 (0) 6147 204670, E-mail: y.theisen@x-raid.de.

Date issued: 25/05/2008

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