TIDJIKJA, Mauritania - Brazilians Klever Kolberg and Rouldan Lourival hit fuel and clutch problems on the stage between Zouerat and Tichit and arrived late on Friday morning, along with Dutchman Toni van Deijne. Kolberg was classified in 55th position, while the Dutchman was 35th overall.

"I had a problem with the clutch," said the Brazilian. "It was not slipping, but I could not stop to help anyone, because I would not have been able to start again. I managed to arrive in Tichit and we think we can make it to Tidjikja to the assistance, because it should be a straight forward liaison without hills or dunes"

Dominique Housieaux and Loic Fagot led the Mitsubishi Ralliart customers into the stage in 15th position, but were stranded without fuel at the second passage control into Tichit on Friday morning. The Russian team of Alexey Berkut and Anton Nikolaev were still awaited at 14.30 hrs on Friday afternoon and there was no sign of the multiple Polish rally champion Krzysztof Holowczyc and his Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin. They were stranded 40 kms from Tichit without fuel.

Chinese driver Guan Yuang Men had made contact with team manager Jürgen Masal to assure him that he and co-driver Serge Henninot were okay, but there was no way that they could reach Tichit in the allotted time. Swiss driver Arnold Meier was forced out of the race before Tichit. Meier had a minor rear differential problem and decided to withdraw at the first passage control into Tichit.

"The last couple of days have not been stages for rookie drivers," said Ralliart team manager Jürgen Masal. "Even drivers like Klever Kolberg and Dominique Housieaux have had problems and struggled. Klever managed to make it here and Toni van Deijne did a great job to arrive in Tichit with no fuel problems. It has been a veru difficult two days with the weather conditions and the type of terrain on the stage."

Published : 09/01/05 Author : Melanie Carter

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