Dakar : Mitsubishi Motors - Leg 10
The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team maintained the overall lead in the 28th Dakar Rally, after the 10th timed special stage between Kiffa in Mauritania and Kayes in Mali on Tuesday.
Overnight leaders and defending champions Stéphane
Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret completed the varied 283 kms special in third position and extended their advantage over second-placed team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard to 40m 04s. Their nearest non-Mitsubishi rivals is the third-placed South African Giniel de Villiers, 1h 03m 17s adrift.
But team mates Alphand and Picard, who had begun the stage a mere 9m 16s behind the leaders, hit a tree and damaged a front right wheel on their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution at the 228 kms point. Co-driver Picard made emergency repairs, but the crew lost around half an hour in the incident. Spaniard Carlos Sainz set the fastest time into Kayes - his fourth stage win of the event.
"It was not an easy stage at all," admitted Peterhansel. "Between the trees and the rocks it was very slow. It was not easy to open the road, even though it was a short stage. We had no problems with the car. It was so technical, turning in tight situations. It was difficult to find a rhythm."
Alphand was fortunate to maintain his second position in the overall standings after today's collision, but the Frenchman was also annoyed with himself for yesterday's delays.
"I was angry with myself for making a mistake on yesterday's stage," said Alphand. "I got stuck and used the jack, but the jack lock was not fastened securely and we had to keep stopping to put it away again. It cost me so much time. I was trying to keep in touch with Stéphane and then I found myself nine minutes behind."
Spaniard Joan 'Nani' Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne began the day in fourth place in the third Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution and beat Peterhansel and Cottret by 50 seconds into the Kayes bivouac by setting the third fastest time. Roma moved further clear of his fourth-placed German rival Jutta Kleinschmidt.
"I stopped to make sure that Luc and Gilles were okay," said Roma. "They had the spare part needed for the wheel, so I carried on. The terrain has changed a lot. We have left the desert behind and now we face new challenges. I drove sensibly and made no mistakes. This race is so long. People said that the race was over after Mauritania. But this is just not true. There is a long way to go."
"Uncertainty is the nature of this race," said Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys. "It is never over until you see Dakar. Luc has lost 30 minutes today, so maybe any thoughts of a team order have now been extinguished by Africa! Now I will stress to our drivers to keep their concentration and make no mistakes."
Tomorrow (Wednesday) the route heads south-east across Mali to the bustling and sprawling capital city of Bamako on the banks of the vast muddy waters of the Niger River. After a 50 kms liaison section, the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team tackles a 231 kms special stage and a grueling 424 kms road liaison to the airport campsite on the outskirts of the city.
This year the event skirts the Badinko wildlife reserve and the tricky Baoulé loop and features numerous tricky gravel and off-road tracks with the inherant dangers associated with crossing Black Africa at speed.
Press Release Mitsubishi Motors