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Alphand wins stage and takes overall
Dakar : Mitsubishi Motors - Leg 12
Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team driver Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean- Paul Cottret lost the outright lead of the 28th Dakar Rally to team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard, after a dramatic 368 kms special stage between Bamako
and Labé in the Republic of Guinea, today (Thursday).

Defending champion Peterhansel had begun the day with a 25-minute lead over his team mate and was classified fifth through the first passage control. But the Frenchman stopped 15 kms from the second control point after hitting a tree and damaging his Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution at the 278 kms point.

He lost a little over one hour making repairs to the rear left-hand suspension and transmission of the car, but was forced to stop again shortly after the second passage control. The crew were still waiting for the Mitsubishi assistance truck near the end of the stage at 16.45 hrs (CET).

Team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard had been fastest overall at the 214 kms point, until they caught Bruno Saby's dust. They passed the Frenchman before PC2 and arrived at the control in the dust of front-runner Giniel de Villiers.

But last year's runner-up went on to set the outright fastest time and moved into the overall lead of the event. He will take a 20m 31s advantage over De Villiers into the special stage between Labé and Tambacounda on Friday.

Spaniard Joan 'Nani' Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne began the day unchallenged in fourth place and were sixth through the opening passage control and eighth through PC2. They completed the stage in sixth position and moved up to third overall following Peterhansel's problems.

« I said in Nouakchott that anything can happen at any time on this race, » said Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys. « Stéphane had a collision with a tree today, but Luc did a great job for us. We had a lead of over one hour, but then we had navigation trouble and both our drivers hit a tree, so now Luc must be very careful. I am pleased that he is first on the road on Friday. It means he will stay out of the dust. Nani will need to try and protect Luc without taking any risks.
Tomorrow (Friday) the event crosses from Guinea into Sénégal and teams will begin to feel they are on the home straight. The special begins a mere seven kilometers out of Labé and finishes 348 kms to the north en route to the overnight halt at Tambacounda. A 212 kms liaison completes the day's timetable and steers teams into the remote eastern Sénégalese town.

But this is a special stage with a difference and crews will cross several mountaineous passes up to an altitude of 1,000 meters where dust will be a problem and there will be limited opportunities to overtake.
Press Release Mitsubishi Motors

     Ellen Lohr forced to retire in leg twelve
     Stephane Peterhansel loses the leadership
     Luc Alphand fastest at CP1
     Despres fastest at CP 1
     Back in Guinea
     Le Team Galp Energia continues to make progress
     Rousselot sets the second-fastest time in his category
     Lohr wants to battle her way to the finish
     Sperrer and Floene climb up the standings
     De Villiers and Saby present Volkswagen with one-two

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