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Dakar disgust at Mini 'podium' order

2014-01-17 06:58

WHAT MINI WAS WORRIED ABOUT: The Mini team has told told its three drivers to cool it to ensure each has a place on the 2014 Dakar podium. Image: AFP

EL SALVADOR, Chile - Stephane Peterhansel's hopes of a 12th Dakar Rally title were crushed when Mini instigated team orders to ensure a podium sweep, a decision blasted by the organisers and the champion-elect.

Peterhansel, who has six motorcycle triumphs and five wins on four wheels in the event, finished Stage 11 from Antofagasta to El Salvador in Chile -- at an overall 605km, the longest of the event -- fourth and 14min14 behind stage winner Orlando Terranova.

However his  team mate, overall leader Nani Roma, was second on the day, just over three minutes ahead of Peterhansel. Roma is leading the race by 5min32 with only two stages to go.

'DIDN'T THINK THEY'D DO IT'

"The game is over. We've had a good laugh and enjoyed ourselves," said Peterhansel, who failed to disguise his frustration at Mini's decision. "The team asked us to not take any more risks.

"It's a bit frustrating because we've done most of the hard work but if Mini wants to have three cars on the podium, at the speed at which we are driving out in front, it's easy to crash.

"We know this can happen but I didn't think that they'd do it."

Race organisers were "disappointed" and "a little shocked" by Mini's team orders which should see Roma, Peterhansel and Qatar's Nasser al-Attiyah monopolise the top three places on the podium.

"We haven't been informed of this decision by the team manager of Mini," said race director Etienne Lavigne, "ut we are disappointed, clearly, because it is not in the spirit of the competition. It's a little shocking. It's not fair.

"If I was being mean, I would say to Mini that they can collect the trophy immediately. Fighting without risk is triumph without glory."

Even Roma, the champion-in-waiting, was embarrassed by Mini's stand. "It's disappointing for Stephane, it's disrespectful. It's a bad decision that has been taken."

MOTORCYCLES

In the motorcycling section, Spain's Marc Coma, on a KTM, won his third stage of the 2014 event and now leads Joan Barreda (Honda) by a comfortable 52min36.

Barreda was fifth on the stage but saw his campaign to hunt down Coma hindered by losing all his navigational instruments. He said later: "It was a very long day. I had a little fall at the start, but it wasn't serious. After that I tried to maintain a good pace.

"The important thing is still being here in the race and also to be careful, because there is still one tough day left."


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US - Stage 11 - Car/Bike - Stage Summary... by Dakar
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Read more on:    mini  |  peterhansel  |  chile  |  el salvador

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