FIA World Cup For Cross Country Rallies
FIA International Cup For Cross Country Bajas


Start: Estoril, Portugal / Finish: Estoril, Portugal
Total Distance: 2076km (Liaison 902km / Competitive 1173km)

Luc Alphand / Joan ’Nani’ Roma

Joan ’Nani’ Roma / Henri Magne
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution

Luc Alphand / Gilles Picard
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution

Armindo Araujo / Pascal Maimon
Mitsubishi Triton

Joan ’Nani’ Roma / Henri Magne
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution

Luc Alphand / Gilles Picard
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution
Spaniard Joan ’Nani’ Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne were deprived of victory on the final kilometers of the final stage of a breathtaking 2nd Vodafone Transiberico Rally, when they lost crucial seconds and the win to arch South African rival Giniel de Villiers.

The Spaniard, who only switched from motorcycle enduro racing to join the Japanese manufacturer’s team at the end of the 2004 season, had increased his 25-second overnight lead to 36 seconds after the fourth leg’s first two stages and was cruising to an emphatic win until the last dramatic kilometers. Team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard finished a solid and distant third overall in a second Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution on this third round of the 2006 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup.

"I cannot believe it," said Roma. "I drove a good stage and could not believe that I had lost the race. I am so disappointed. I improved on each of the laps today and set a better time every lap. I was absolutely flat out this morning. I had no option. You know if you make a slight mistake, each second lost is going through your mind. I think this is the hardest I have ever pushed a car since I switched from bike racing.

"When we passed a section which I thought was flat out on the first lap, I told Henri and he made a mental note to modify our road book for the next lap. There were many places where I thought that we could be quicker on the repeat runs."

Alphand and Picard began the final day in third place and the Frenchman accepted that it was unrealistic to think about catching his rivals. He slowed to a sensible pace to conserve the car and earned a second podium place for Mitsubishi,

"The final leg was merely a case of making sure I finished third and not damaging the car, because it is needed for the next race in Morocco," admitted Alphand. "I knew that Nani and Giniel would be pushing hard and there was no way that I could make up eight minutes. The starter problem yesterday was so disappointing. A puncture can happen at any time, but to lose four minutes with that problem really cost us the race. One big positive though was to regain my confidence after the accident in Tunisia."

Roma and Alphand had held first and fourth positions after the opening timed super special stage. The Spaniard tackled the stage behind Alphand and South African Giniel de Villiers and set the fastest time of the day to edge into an 4.5-second lead after the opening leg.

"I was surprised to discover that I had won the superstage," said a delighted Roma. "I have this problem that I never know when I have driven really fast or not. I know when I feel good and make no mistakes, but when the track is narrow and slow, like today, it is not easy to judge your pace.

"Last year Mitsubishi had an advantage on this type of rally, but each of our rivals have upped their level over the last months and all the top drivers are now very closely matched. That means speeds have increased and we are driving at a higher level. When you make mistakes at this level, the team pays in cash! Mitsubishi and Volkswagen discovered that in Tunisia. We must make sure that we are fast, but also driving at a safe level."

Frenchman Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard headed the 87-car international entry into the super special stage across military land, near Mafra, north of Estoril, and set the fourth fastest time of 6m 56s in a second Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution.

The second leg’s competitive action was centred around remote terrain to the north-east of Lisbon in the area between Montemor-o-Novo, Santarem and Ponte de Sor. A varied 258.82 km stage was run in a clockwise direction, starting and finishing in a scenic parkland service park, north of the village of Mora. The special featured several potentially tricky river crossings and numerous narrow tree-lined tracks in rural farmland in the Alentejo region.

Local national champion Armindo Ara˙jo and French co-driver Pascal Maimon began the day in second overall in a Mitsubishi L200 Strakar, prepared by Mitsubishi Motors Portugal, and were running ahead of Roma and leading the rally outright when the gearbox failed suddenly around 60 km into the stage.

Following the Portuguese driver’s demise, Roma and De Villiers became locked in a frantic tussle for the fastest time in SS1, with Alphand 26s adrift in third overall after 115 km. Roma gradually pulled a handful of seconds clear of De Villiers, but the South African fought back and was three seconds ahead after 153 km, 23s in front at 168 km and 49s up at 225 km. He eventually finished the stage 41s ahead of Roma and 27s in front of a resurgent Alphand, who set the second fastest time after a late flurry.

The stage was repeated at 14.00 hrs on Saturday afternoon and De Villiers took an overall 32s lead over a tying Roma and Alphand into the special. Benefiting from a clearer track, Roma led his team mate by 24s and De Villiers by 43s at PC1 after 63 km and extended his advantage over De Villiers to 1m 11s and Alphand to 55s at the PC2 point after 143.78 km. The Spaniard was 53s ahead of De Villiers at the 195.21 km point (PC3) and reached the finish of the stage 45s ahead, to enter the overnight halt with a slender nine-second advantage in the overall classification.

The third leg’s pair of 155.74 km special stages ran on punishing terrain just across the border in Spain to the south-east of Portalegre and to the north of the Portuguese town of Elvas and the larger Spanish town of Badajoz. Servicing was centralised on the outskirts of the village of Alburquerque.

Roma soon came under pressure from De Villiers this morning and the South African was ahead after 16 km, with Alphand a mere five seconds behind. Roma slipped over a minute adrift of De Villiers at the 40 km point, after finding it difficult to run as the first car on the stage, while Alphand slipped into contention for the outright lead by running ahead of his two rivals. He was a full 19s quicker that De Villiers after 40 km.

After 100 km, Germany’s Matthias Kahle was running on a similar pace to Alphand, although the Frenchman looked to be heading for the outright lead of the event until he approached an innocuous left-hand corner, stalled the engine and lost four minutes. Kahle also hit problems and Roma duly coasted to his second successive stage win and extended his overall lead over De Villiers to 1m 20s, as Alphand slipped 5m 18s behind his team mate.

With renewed confidence and a better knowledge of the special for the repeat run, Roma decided to try and press home his advantage. He and De Villiers were inseparable after 40 km, but Alphand punctured and fell a further three minutes behind his rivals. De Villiers edged 15s ahead of Roma at the 81 km point and 20s in front after 101 km, but the Spaniard remained in close contention to finish the stage 55 seconds behind his rival and took a 36s lead into the final leg.

The final day’s trio of 112.32 km special stages were located to the north of Portalegre in a rural region to the south and east of Castelo Branco. The special ran in an anti-clockwise direction, started to the west of the town and skirted Vila Velha de Bodao, before heading in a north-easterly direction to a finish near the town. Teams then embarked upon a 254.29 km liaison section across the breadth of Portugal to Estoril.

Roma and De Villiers were inseparable after 16 km of the opening stage, but Roma edged into a seven-second lead at the 49 km point, with Alphand and Kahle trailing well behind. Roma led by 10s after 65 km and nine seconds after 88 km, but De Villiers regained vital seconds over the faster closing kilometers, as Roma reached the finish a mere one second ahead of his rival to extend his lead to 26s. Alphand used the opportunity to try out suspension settings and set the third fastest time, the Frenchman finishing the stage 2m 20s behind Roma.

As the excitement and tension mounted, the leaders embarked upon the second lap. "I was feeling a lot happier before the second lap," admitted Roma. "It is much better when you have seen the stage and know what to expect, but I am sure it was the same for Giniel."

Roma and De Villiers were again closely matched, but Roma managed to edge a further 10 seconds ahead over the sixth stage and headed into the final 112.32 km section with a lead of 36s in the overall standings. Alphand was an untroubled third, 13m 32s adrift.

The drama continued with De Villiers edging seven seconds ahead of Roma at the 16 km point on the final stage. The difference remained the same after 32 km, but Roma had overturned the difference by PC1 and was eight seconds ahead of his rival and 44s to the good with less than half of the stage to complete.

The difference was up to 11s on the stage after 65 km, but De Villiers had overturned the momentum after 88 km and was running 16s in front of Roma. It set the scene for a thrilling showdown, with the Spaniard defending a 20s lead over the closing 24 km. But Roma was unable to hold De Villiers at bay over the final nail-biting kilometers and the South African took full advantage to take the outright lead and victory by the margin of just 24 seconds after nearly 15 hours of racing.

"It was a truly exciting race and one on which the whole team can be proud of their performances," said MMSP’s Team President Isao Torii. "I am obviously disappointed for Nani. He did not know where he had lost those seconds at the end of the last stage. He had beaten his first two lap times and is improving all the time as a driver. We must accept this defeat and use it to make ourselves stronger for the next race and for the Dakar Rally next year."

The 2nd Transiberico Rally ran over a total route of 2,075.85 km and 1,173.08 km were competitive, with teams tackling a total of seven timed special stages and a super special over four days. Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team driver Joan Roma won five specials, including the opening timed super special, while Volkswagen’s De Villiers clinched victories on the first, fourth and final stages.

Pos Driver
Vehicle Cat
1 Giniel De Villiers
Dirk Von Zitzewitz
Volkswagen Race Touareg T1
14:51:41.0 **:**.*
2 Joan Roma
Henri Magne
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution T1
14:52:05.8 +24.8
3 Luc Alphand
Gilles Picard
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution T1
15:06:55.0 +15:14.0
4 Matthias Kahle
Andreas Schulz
Volkswagen Race Touareg T1
15:39:14.1 +47:33.1
5 Pedro Grancha
Pedro Tavares
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero T1
16:13:49.9 +1:22:08.9
6 Filipe Campos
Jaime Baptista
Renault Megane T1
16:27:37.6 +1:35:56.6
7 Josef Sykora
Marek Sykora
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero T1
17:01:16.4 +2:09:35.4
8 Christian Lavielle
Debron Arnaud
Nissan Pathfinder T1
17:21:21.2 +2:29:40.2
9 Miguel Farrajota
Nelson Ramos
Nissan Pick-up Navara T1
17:45:49.8 +2:54:08.8
10 Rui Sousa
Carlos Silva
Isuzu Rodeo T1
17:56:32.0 +3:04:51.0
11 Bernardo Moniz da Maia
Barnardo Sotto-Mayor
Toyota Land Cruiser T1
17:56:52.5 +3:05:11.5
12 Paulo Martins
Antonio Morais
Nissan Challenge T1
18:01:36.2 +3:09:55.2
13 Ricardo Leal dos Santos
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero T1
18:05:57.0 +3:14:16.0
14 Jose Dinis Lucas
Luis Tirano
Mercedes ML 430 T1
18:17:51.3 +3:26:10.3
15 Adelio Machado
Pedro Moreira
Toyota Land Cruiser T1
18:20:37.0 +3:28:56.0
16 Edgar Condenso
Rui Silva
Nissan Pick-up Navara T1
18:26:07.9 +3:34:26.9
17 Americo Santos
Joao Salgueiro
Nissan Pick-up Navara T1
18:33:19.2 +3:41:38.2
18 Francisco Esperto
Filipe Fernandes
Nissan Navara Challenge T1
18:34:25.3 +3:42:44.3
19 Guillaume Meura
Damien Dantinne
Nissan Navara Challenge T1
18:41:03.3 +3:49:22.3
20 Jerome Pelichet
Eugenie Decre
Bowler Wildcat T1
18:45:49.8 +3:54:08.8
21 Jose Pereira
Rui Fernandes
Nissan Pick-up Navara T1
18:51:00.9 +3:59:19.9
22 Mario Dinis Lucas
Francisco Luis
Nissan Pick-up Navara T1
18:59:38.4 +4:07:57.4
23 Lino Carapeta
Ricardo Corticadas
Bowler Wildcat T1
19:07:49.3 +4:16:08.3
24 Nelson Clemente
Nuno Silva
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero T1
19:33:32.4 +4:41:51.4
25 Pedro Alves
Filipe Palmeiro
Nissan Pick-up Navara T1
19:38:50.3 +4:47:09.3
26 Jorge Cunha
Paulo Antunes
Nissan Pick-up Navara T1
19:43:02.6 +4:51:21.6
27 Nuno Ferreira
Nascimento Costa
Land Rover Defender T1
20:05:31.0 +5:13:50.0
28 Carlos Silva
Luis Amaral
Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero T1
20:22:30.0 +5:30:49.0
29 Nuno Faria
Joao Faria
Nissan Pick-up Navara T1
20:31:55.3 +5:40:14.3
30 Porizek Zdenek
Korejz Premysl
Suzuki Jimmy T1
20:59:45.0 +6:08:04.0
31 Alexandra Gameiro
Isabel Robalo
Nissan Pathfinder T1
22:00:39.6 +7:08:58.6
32 Ceu Pires Lima
Joana Sotto-Mayor
Toyota Land Cruiser T1
23:08:01.3 +8:16:20.3

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