Mondiale Rally Raid 2008 FIA CROSS-COUNTRY RALLY WORLD CUP (Round 2) RALI TRANSIBERICO (MAY 20-25, 2008) Saturday May 24, 2008 ROMA DELAYED, BUT ALPHAND – FASTEST ON SS7 – TAKES OVER AT THE TOP FOR TEAM REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART

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Mondiale Rally Raid

2008 FIA CROSS-COUNTRY RALLY WORLD CUP (Round 2)
RALI TRANSIBERICO (MAY 20-25, 2008)
Saturday May 24, 2008

ROMA DELAYED, BUT ALPHAND – FASTEST ON SS7 – TAKES OVER AT THE TOP FOR TEAM REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART

The hopes of Juan ‘Nani’ Roma and his co-driver Lucas Cruz (Spain) of giving the new diesel-powered Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR14 its maiden win on the Rali Transiberico were dashed when their power steering pump drive-belt came off in a water-splash, 90km after the start of the penultimate leg’s second stage. The Spaniards had led the event since Thursday’s SS3 and had enjoyed a trouble-free run with Mitsubishi’s new V6 diesel powered engine, gathering important data for the project’s engineers as the team prepares for the 2009 Dakar. Despite their setback, the pair will contest the final day of competition with a view to collecting even more information

Roma’s place at the top of the leaderboard is now in the hands of team-mates Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard in the petrol-engined Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR13. The French crew seemed to have fallen from contention when a windscreen wiper motor failure saw them lose ground in this morning’s wet conditions. However, Roma’s misfortune means that they now enjoy a cushion of more than half an hour over their closest chasers with only two stages (330.16km) to come on Sunday.

Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret were eliminated from the battle for victory yesterday following a time-consuming ‘off’ in the Spanish mountains which relegated them from the provisional top-ten. They decided therefore not to take any unnecessary risks in today’s atrocious conditions which included further heavy rain as the event moved on to lower-lying ground east of Lisbon. Their tactic nonetheless paid dividends since the different incidents that marked today’s action saw them recover fifth place with one day remaining, despite picking up a front-left puncture on SS7 after clipping a tree stump.

“We are obviously sorry for Nani,” recognized Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys. “He was going well and looking good for his first victory here in Portugal after finishing second in 2006 and 2007. It would obviously have been nice to win with the new diesel engine, too, but that was never the priority on this event. We have a programme of work to get through and we will hopefully have another 300km tomorrow to build on the encouraging results we have already obtained this week. Indeed, Nani’s problems were totally unrelated to the engine. At the same time, Luc responded professionally to the new situation on SS7 which he won without taking any undue risks in extremely demanding conditions.”

Alphand was understandably happy to have picked up his first stage win of the rally, although he was equally disappointed to see the challenge of his team-mate come to an end. “Everyone in the team wants the development of the diesel engine to progress, and that means covering as many kilometres as possible,” he observed. “It’s funny: after our problems on this morning’s stage, Gilles and I thought that the close fight we had been enjoying this week was over. A few hours later, we suddenly found ourselves in the lead. We can’t possibly afford to throw that away this close to the finish, so it will be vital to drive smoothly and safely tomorrow, especially if the conditions are as treacherous as they were today. This afternoon’s rain made SS7 exceptionally difficult. There was so much mud in the last 10 kilometres that simply reaching the finish without making a mistake was a victory in itself.”

After a night in Evora (130km east of Lisbon), survivors face two more stages – a 165.08km loop to be contested twice – before the finish ceremony at 5.45pm local time in the casino resort of Estoril, just along the coast from the Portuguese capital.

Leg-4
Road section: 107.67 km
SS6: 204.40 km
Road section: 6.15 km
Service
Road section: 4.66 km
SS7: 204.40km
Road section: 62.79 km
Total distance: 590.07 km

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER LEG 4
1. Luc Alphand (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)
– 12:37:58 (+**:**:**.*)
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (BMW X3 CC)
– 13:13:10 (+35:12)
3. Filipe Campos (BMW X3 CC)
– 13:15:29 (+37:31)
4. Helder Oliveira (NISSAN PATHFINDER)
– 13:37:43 (+59:45)
5. Stephane Peterhansel (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)
– 13:53:53 (+1:15:55)
6. Leonid Novistsky (BMW X3 CC)
– 14:00:34 (+1:22:36)
7. Ilya Kuznetsov (MITSUBISHI L200)
– 14:39:20 (+2:01:22)
8. Pedro Grancha (NISSAN NAVARA OFF)
– 14:46:59 (+2:09:01)
9. Rodrigo Amaral (BOWLER WILDCAT)
– 14:48:34 (+2:10:36)
10. Edgar Condenso (ISUZU D-MAX)
– 15:10:47 (+2:32:49)

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