UAE Desert Challenge : Mitsubishi Motors - Leg 4
Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Team driver Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret finished the penultimate leg of this year's UAE Desert Challenge with yet another fastest time and extended their overall lead to a
staggering 2h 31m 08s, today (Sunday).
Today's penultimate section began over sand tracks and sabkhas and crossed several high ridges. The subsequent route crossed a section with tricky navigation and a series of deceptive dunes with sand holes to a fast finish across open desert. The arrival time control was situated at the same point as Wednesday's opening selective.
Peterhansel headed out of the Moreeb bivouac with a 1h 49m 31s advantage over second-placed José-Luis Monterde and stayed out of trouble throughout the varied special to extend his advantage over the Spaniard by a further 41 minutes.
"Today was a lot easier than yesterday," admitted Peterhansel. "It was a nice stage. The route was often across a chott, on a sandy track and in the dunes. It is never easy to read the track and now I must be careful on the final day. Of course something could happen, but I must be cautious and make sure that I reach the finish tomorrow. I have had some bad luck this year, but I will not be thinking about that at all."
The twice winner of the Dakar Rally with the Mitsubishi team admitted that this event had been a crucial final test session for him before the Dakar. "Sometimes in the past it has not been easy to get the suspension settings right for Dubai, but everything has been fine this year. The car has been perfect. I am very happy."
Team mate Joan 'Nani' Roma had recovered sufficiently from his food poisoning to take the start of today's stage with Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne. He was classified 21st in the overall classification after incurring a catalogue of time penalties. Starting from 10th on the road this morning, Roma attacked from the outset, passing several cars on his way to the second fastest time.
"It was a good day for me," said a smiling Roma. "After missing two days and spending the mornings in the medical tent and the afternoons in the hotel, it was great to carry out some training for the Dakar. There were a lot of dunes, plenty of soft sand and all good experience. I had to stop on one occasion, because my belts were too tight, but it was a really positive day and I feel much better!"
Tomorrow (Monday) is the final day of this year's UAE Desert Challenge, with teams tackling two selective sections between Moreeb and the finish on Monday afternoon at the Dubai Intermational Marine Club (DIMC) in Dubai. The opening 122.45 section begins at Haleeba and the second starts at Khatam after a 103.85 kms road liaison section. A short 37.50 kms link will take teams to the finish at Mina Seyahi.
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