With outright victory in Transiberico Rally
Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and Swedish co-driver Tina Thörner noticeably eased their pace over the final leg of the 2009 Transiberico Rally between Beja and Estoril in Portugal, but did enough to clinch outright victory in the
final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
The result also confirmed the FIA World Cup title for the Frenchman and his BMW X-raid team. It was the second successive FIA World Cup success for the Trebur-based X-raid team – Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah won the title in his BMW X3 CC in 2008 – and the third in total for Sven Quandt's ever-improving team.
Chicherit inherited the overall lead in the fifth stage, when team-mate Filipe Campos hit a tree stump and damaged his X-raid BMW X3 CC's wheel and suspension. The Frenchman then settled into a measured pace to conserve the car and secure the FIA World Cup title.
“It's a wonderful feeling to win the FIA World Cup with this team,” said Chicherit. “This year, since the Dakar, I have now done three events and the extra time in competition has been wonderful for my confidence. I hope to do more events during the season.
“The aim is to be fully-prepared for the Dakar next time, but I will enjoy this triumph for now. Tina and I worked superbly together in the car and the team rallied round to make this a great result for everyone.”
To cap an excellent week of cross-country rallying for the X-raid team, Portugal's Bernardo Moniz da Maia and Joana Sotto-Mayor finished a superb third overall in their X-raid BMW X3 CC.
“It's a great achievement for our team to win the FIA World Cup for a second successive year,” said team director Sven Quandt. “Guerlain drove very well and we had the bonus of a podium finish for Bernardo. ‘Nani' had a useful first test with the team for the first time and Filipe proved that he has the pace to be competitive at the highest level.”
Portugal's Filipe Campos and co-driver Jaime Baptista lost their chance of taking outright victory on the fifth stage on Saturday morning, but the Portuguese pair and former leaders of the event bounced back on the final leg by setting the third and actual fastest times on the day's two selective sections between Beja and Estoril. They eventually finished 25th overall, although a puncture cost Campos the fastest time on the seventh stage on Sunday morning.
Joan ‘Nani' Roma and Michel Perin lost their chance of winning the event, when they incurred hefty time penalties following delays on the opening leg. They bounced back with several fast times on their X-raid team debut, but a collision with a tree stump cost Roma more time on Saturday and he finished his Transiberico campaign with the second and fourth fastest times on the final two stages on Sunday. Roma was ultimately classified in 30th position.