Peterhansel climbs to third



Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart back in contention Two-time winner, Hiroshi Masuoka, forced out of Rally Hundreds of fans turn out despite heat Team Director wants everyone to remain calm 2nd fastest time in fast second special stageTeam Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart swept back into contention for the overall lead in the 2009 Dakar Rally, after a short, but nonetheless, fast second special stage between Santa Rosa de la Pampa and the Patagonian coastal resort of Puerto Madryn in Argentina on Sunday.

Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret (both France) led the way in the first of three turbo-diesel ‘Racing Lancers’, the defending Dakar champions posting a stage time of 1h 57m 28s for the 237km special, which was sufficient for them to clinch the second fastest time behind stage winner Carlos Sainz and also to catapult them up the leader board to third overall.

Joan ‘Nani’ Roma and Lucas Cruz Senra (both Spain) set the fourth fastest time in their BFGoodrich-shod Racing Lancer to hold fifth in the overall rankings, while the fifth quickest time was sufficient for Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard (both France) to hold sixth position.

Engine problems force Masuoka to withdraw Day two was disappointing for Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan) and Pascal Maimon (France) in the fourth Racing Lancer. They sustained engine pulley problems on the opening stage and further examination of the engine revealed that the damage sustained to the Racing Lancer was too much to repair in the time allowed and the car was withdrawn from the race.

Monday’s special is longest of event so farDespite the intense afternoon heat, hundreds of people lined the narrow streets and promenades of scenic Puerto Madryn on Sunday afternoon to welcome the Dakar caravan to a bivouac overlooking the Golfo Nuevo.

Tomorrow (Monday) teams leave Puerto Madryn in a westerly direction and cross the barren Patagonian wastelands to the overnight halt at Jacobacci, situated to the east of the popular tourist centre and former start of the Por Las Pampas Rally at San Carlos de Bariloche.

The day’s timetable begins with a 70km liaison section before teams tackle a winding 616km special - the longest of the event so far - on classic flowing terrain, starting at Sierra Chuta and passing the Sierra Negra and Sierra Apas.

The special then winds its way through the Pampa de Talagape towards a second passage control near El Cain, before an 8km liaison guides teams into the overnight halt at Jacobacci, 872 metres above sea level.

Team Director believes real meat of the rally will start next week

WHAT THEY SAID... Dominique Serieys, Team Director "For sure I am disappointed for Hiroshi (Masuoka) that he cannot continue the race. It is going well for our team otherwise. We are not under any pressure to lead the race before legs five or six. I do not want to see any objective to win any of the early stages. Tomorrow looks very tough but, from the information that the organisers have given to us, the real meat of the rally will start next week. I just want everyone in our team to be calm at this stage and not under any pressure."

Luc Alphand "We have had a small problem on both days so far. These are long days and it is very hot and tiring. We do not want to panic about our position at this stage. We were stuck twice today, trying to pass (Mark) Miller. The first time I tried to pass along the dunes and then I came back a second time and lost more than two minutes going back to take the road book again. We are here, but it was a long way and tomorrow we will be much, much longer than today more than double!"

Stéphane Peterhansel "It was a little better for me today. I started sixth this morning, but I dropped a few seconds in the first part. The second section was similar to yesterday. I was in Mark Miller’s dust for 80kms and it was not possible to pass him. At the end he made a mistake and I was able to pass, but I was always driving in dust. It was a little bit more technical today. There were some very fast corners. I think it is better to start second or third tomorrow. I saw yesterday how difficult it is to lead the way, but the organisers did leave a one-hour gap between the last motorcycle and the first car today and that was better."

Joan ‘Nani’ Roma "We have driven two fast stages and at least a part of tomorrow’s special will be the same. I hear the organisers have changed the last 300km, but I do not know the reason. I am quite happy today. The stage was short, but not easy. I made a small mistake in the middle and lost a little time.

"Even with a little wind, there is still the problem of passing the bikes. As a former rider on the Dakar myself, I know how difficult it can be and how dangerous it can be with bikes and cars sharing the same stages. One time a bike and a quad stopped in the middle of the fesh-fesh and I had to go in the forest to pass and I broke my door."

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