Three down, one left for Mitsubishi in Dakar
AFP - Sunday, January 11
VALPARAISO, Chile (AFP) - - Mitsubishi's hopes of preventing a Volkswagen cleansweep and securing an eighth successive Dakar title will depend on Nani Roma's ability to eat into Carlos Sainz's huge lead next week.
The Japanese manufacturers saw their top three drivers all drop out as the gruelling race made its way from Argentina and into Chile leaving Roma, the 2004 motorcycle champion, the team's only hope.
With defending champion Stephane Peterhansel, a nine-time winner, Luc Alphand, the 2006 champion and Hiroshi Masuoka, the 2002 and 2003 winner, all out of contention, Mitsubishi have been forced also to start planning for the future.
"It is not easy for us now. Everybody is working for the win and pushing hard," said Roma, the 36-year-old Spaniard.
"The engineers and mechanics in Japan and France have worked really hard to know the engine. I hope we can try to push through the second week."
Saturday was the traditional rest day in the Dakar leaving Mitsubishi time to plot how they are going to cut into Sainz's 29-minute lead over Roma.
Team director Dominique Serieys believes that Volkswagen have made the most of a technical edge.
"Even when we entered scrutineering in Buenos Aires I was not sure what would happen. When we decided to enter the diesel category with the Racing Lancer, we knew that the project would be for the medium term - 2009-2011," said Serieys.
"When you see that Volkswagen and BMW have been at this project for six years to be where they are today, we can say that in the very short term period we have reached the performance, but there are still several areas where we need to work and improve.
"Since I took charge of the team in 2001, my focus has been to be competitive. Nani is still in a good position and it is still possible for a competitor running alone to win the race.
"There is always only one winner. I hope he keeps a healthy car next week and we can take a podium finish or even a better place."
Sainz, a former world rally champion, goes into Sunday's eighth stage with a nine-second lead over teammate Ginel De Villiers and almost a 14-minute advantage on America's Mark Miller in another Volkswagen.
The stage is 652km with a 294km special from here to La Serena.
Recommend this article
Average (0 votes)
Sign in to recommend this article »
Most Recommended Stories »
Mitsubishi driver Nani Roma (R) and Repsol Mitsubishi team manager Dominique Serieys speak during a press conference at the closed park of the Dakar 2009 in Valparaiso, Chile. Mitsubishi's hopes of preventing a Volkswagen cleansweep and securing an eighth successive Dakar title will depend on Roma's ability to eat into Carlos Sainz's huge lead next week.
Most Popular – Top Stories
Citigroup: 2-billion-dollar exposure to LyondellBasell
Is Tintin gay? Cartoon birthday boy dogged by rumours
Half the planet could be hit by food crisis by 2100: study
Marks & Spencer to axe 1,230 jobs and close 27 stores
Finance fights sex for Aussie dictionary honour
View Complete List »