LUC ALPHAND IS 4TH, BUT NANI ROMA HAS RETIRED
The penultimate day of the 2008 Central Europe Rally continued at the samefast and furious pace that has marked this new event since the beginning ofthe week.
However, it turned out to be a little less successful leg for TeamRepsol Mitsubishi Ralliart: Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (France)have lost the lead they have held practically non-stop since Monday afterdropping an estimated 40 seconds on this morning's test, although only 18seconds separate the French pair from the new leader, Carlos Sainz, thisevening. The fight is far from over! The scrap is proving just as close for third place, too, since LucAlphand/Gilles Picard are up to fourth place this evening, just sevenseconds adrift of Depping (Germany).
The bad news for Mitsubishi today,however, is the loss of Nani Roma and Lucas Cruz (Spain) who were forced outwith a mechanical problem while running in third position this morning.
"It's turning out to be a very close thing and the pace is exceptionallyfast, so to have two cars still in the fight for top places on the last dayagainst a field of such talented drivers is particularly gratifying," saysRepsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys (France). "Itsays so much for the potential and reliability of the Pajero/MonteroEvolution, especially against the new generation of cross-country rally-raidcars, but also for the ability and cool-headedness of our drivers. I amobviously disappointed for Nani but that's the sort of thing that can happenwhen it gets this fast. Tomorrow, Stéphane and Luc will both be looking togain a place. It's in their hands now, and all I can say is: 'May the bestman win!'" Ironically, Stéphane Peterhansel lost the majority of his time today in thedust of his team-mate, Luc Alphand. "I caught Luc after about 100km intothis morning's stage and I couldn't get past, so I had to sit in his dustand I reckon that must have cost us around half a minute," reckons Peterhansel.
"This afternoon, I did everything I could to make up for thelost time. I took as many risks as I dared and it ended up paying because wehave cut the deficit back down to 18 seconds, and Jean-Paul and I will giveit everything we can tomorrow to try to get back ahead of Carlos." The morning stage took place in bright warm weather, but the conditionsturned colder in the afternoon, and there was even a little rain as LucAlphand did his utmost to pass Depping in the overall standings. "We've gotnobody on our heels behind us on the leaderboard now, and Depping is sevenseconds ahead," explained the Frenchman.
"Our choice for tomorrow is simple:either we just sit back and cruise home to fourth place or we give iteverything we can to try and finish on the podium. Believe me; I have everyintention of going for the second option! We went straight on into the woodsat one point on this afternoon's stage and that must have cost us perhapsten seconds, otherwise we might have been on the podium tonight. But at thepace we're going, you've got to expect this sort of incident because this isthe fastest cross-country rally I've ever contested! I'm obviously sorry tohave held up Stéphane this morning."
Yesterday's main loser in the Mitsubishi camp was Nani Roma who was going wellin his bid to defend his overnight podium position until he was forced toretire with a broken right-hand steering tie-rod with about 40km of the longstage remaining. "It happened at about 50/60kph, so at least we've got thatto be thankful for," said the Spaniard.
"It was a fast stage and it couldhave been a very different story altogether at 120kph. I have to say,though, that I didn't feel total happy with the handling of my car up tothat point, but I think I could have kept third place. On the positive side,it's been a challenging and very interesting rally. The car came throughsome extremely tough conditions extremely well indeed and our performancethis week on such a closely fought event has left me feeling optimistic forthe rest of the season. The first class job put in by everyone in the teamhas a chance of being rewarded by a top result for Stéphane and/or Luctomorrow and I will be following that very closely indeed"
The final day of the rally features just one stage: another long competitiverun (155km) that will take survivors from Veszprem to the finish of therally near Balatonfured at 15h27 on Saturday afternoon.
Carlos Sainz Michel Perin VOLKSWAGEN RACE TOUAREG 2 01:37:23 Stephane PeterhanselJean-Paul Cottret MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION01:37:51 00:28 Guerlain ChicheritMatthieu Baumel BMW X3 CC 01:39:2402:01 Luc AlphandGilles Picard MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION01:39:35 02:12 Dieter DeppingTimo Gottschalk VOLKSWAGEN RACE TOUAREG 2 01:39:3902:16 Robby GordonAndy Grider HUMMER H3 01:40:26 03:03 Robert BaldwinKevin Heath HUMMER H3 01:40:44 03:21 Carlos SousaAndreas Schulz VOLKSWAGEN RACE TOUAREG 2 01:43:0805:45 Bruno SabyAlain Guehennec BMW X3 CC 01:43:57 06:34 Philippe GacheFrancois Flick BUGGY SMG 01:47:32 10:09
SS6B CLASSIFICATION Robby Gordon Andy Grider HUMMER H3 32:58 Carlos SainzMichel Perin VOLKSWAGEN RACE TOUAREG 232:59 00:01 Stephane PeterhanselJean-Paul Cottret MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION33:11 00:13 Robert BaldwinKevin Heath HUMMER H3 33:17 00:19 Dieter DeppingTimo Gottschalk VOLKSWAGEN RACE TOUAREG 2 34:0501:07 Luc AlphandGilles Picard MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION34:15 01:17 Carlos SousaAndreas Schulz VOLKSWAGEN RACE TOUAREG 2 35:4202:44 Bruno SabyAlain Guehennec BMW X3 CC 35:51 02:53 Philippe GacheFrancois Flick BUGGY SMG 36:19 03:21 Guerlain ChicheritMatthieu Baumel BMW X3 CC 36:44 03:46
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER LEG 61 Carlos SainzMichel Perin VOLKSWAGEN RACE TOUAREG 209:40:37 2 Stephane PeterhanselJean-Paul Cottret MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION09:40:55 00:183 Dieter DeppingTimo Gottschalk VOLKSWAGEN RACE TOUAREG 2 09:46:4406:074 4 Luc AlphandGilles Picard MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION09:46:51 06:14 5 Carlos SousaAndreas Schulz VOLKSWAGEN RACE TOUAREG 2 10:09:5429:17:00 6 Bruno SabyAlain Guehennec BMW X3 CC 10:20:53 40:16:007 Robert BaldwinKevin Heath HUMMER H3 10:33:4853:11:008 Philippe GacheFrancois Flick BUGGY SMG 10:38:02 57:25:009 Miroslav ZapletalVladimir Nemajer MITSUBISHI L200 10:41:1101:00:3410 Toni Van DeijneWouter Rosegaar MITSUBISHI L200 11:01:0701:20:30