Rally Raid Dakar 2006: Mitsubishi Motors - Leg 9
The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team continued to tighten its grip on a potential sixth successive victory in the 28th Dakar Rally, as overnight leaders Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret extended their overall lead
in the daunting 599 kms special stage between Nouakchott and Kiffa in Mauritania on Monday.
The pair had led team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard by a mere 32 seconds at the start of what promised to the hardest day of the entire event and had already edged over two and a half minutes further away from their nearest rival Giniel de Villiers after the first passage control at 97 kms.
Peterhansel stopped to change a puncture at the 315 kms point and arrived at the third and final passage control at 428 kms, with his advantage over team mate Alphand pegged back to 3m 38s. The defending champion eventually clinched his third stage win of the event to extend his advantage in the overall standings to a commanding 9m 16s. Mitsubishi's nearest rival de Villiers now trails Peterhansel by 54m 16s.
Today's stage began near a large dune field to the east of Nouakchott and headed across one of the remotest parts of the Western Sahara to Tamassoumit, before turning in a southerly direction towards a finish near Letfata in the Tagant region, south-west of the former overnight bivouac in Tidjikja.
Spaniard Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne began the stage in fourth overall and fourth on the stage. They lost 25 minutes to the first passage control, but progressed over the remainder of the special to arrive in Kiffa with the fifth fastest time after holding ninth at PC3. But Roma maintained fourth place, albeit 1h 36m 14s behind his leading team mate.
"Now we can say that we performed very well on the three very difficult stages across Mauritania," said Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys. "Our position is becoming more comfortable, although you never know in Africa what is around the next corner and we must keep our concentration and make no mistakes. But, for sure, Stéphane and Luc did a very good job today."
Tomorrow (Tuesday) the event resumes with a one-kilometer liaison to the start of a 283 kms special stage across the border into the Republic of Mali. The nature of the terrain begins to change, with dunes and sandy wastelands giving way to savannah, bushland, thicker vegetation and fast laterite piste. The arrival in Black Africa is completed by a 49 kms road liaison section to the bivouac in nearby Kayes.
Press Release Mitsubishi Motors