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Roma wins stage 13 for Mitsubishi

Joan Roma, Mitsubishi, 2009 Dakar RallyJoan 'Nani' Roma took the new diesel Mitsubishi's first stage win of the 2009 Dakar Rally on the penultimate day, as Volkswagen edged closer to victory.

VW duo Giniel de Villiers and Mark Miller will go into the final stage two minutes and 20 seconds apart in first and second overall, and with an 87-minute cushion over third-placed Robby Gordon (Hummer).

With the chaotic events of stage 12 having given VW such a comfortable advantage, de Villiers and Miller stopped three kilometres into the stage to wait for teammate Dieter Depping so the three cars could tackle the shortened La Rioja to Cordoba stage in convoy. This left them well down the order in stage times, but made no difference to their commanding advantage in the outright standings.

"The important thing was to get to the finish, especially after losing a car yesterday," said de Villiers.

"The boss wanted us to do it in that way, and we respect the wishes of the team. It's important for Volkswagen to get to the finish now with a one-two.

"We're not really taking any risks anymore. It's pointless to take risks - we've worked very hard to get to this position and to throw it away on the last two stages is not clever."

That left the way clear for Roma to take today's stage victory by seven minutes over Krzysztof Holowczyc's Nissan and X-Raid BMW driver Guerlain Chicherit.

Roma's rally had looked to be over when he stopped with electrical problems on Thursday. But the Mitsubishi team were able to carry out repairs and he was given a notional time for the stage and a two-hour penalty, allowing him to continue in sixth overall, seven and a half hours behind the leaders.

Gordon lost a lot of time in the stage when he had to stop twice to attend to a sticking throttle, but with an enormous gap back to fourth-placed Holowczyc, the NASCAR driver remains on course for third.

Stage 13 results:

Pos  Driver               Car         Time
 1.  Joan Roma            Mitsubishi  2h33:48
 2.  Krzysztof Holowczyc  Nissan      +  7:18
 3.  Guerlain Chicherit   BMW         +  7:27
 4.  Dieter Depping       Volkswagen  + 10:00
 5.  Leonid Novitskiy     BMW         + 10:33
 6.  Eric Vigouroux       Hummer      + 13:53
 7.  Mark Miller          Volkswagen  + 14:13
 8.  Giniel de Villiers   Volkswagen  + 14:28
 9.  Miroslav Zapletal    Mitsubishi  + 17:18
10.  Bruce Garland        Isuzu       + 19:23

 Overall standings:

Pos  Driver               Car          Time
 1.  Giniel de Villiers   Volkswagen   46h35:14
 2.  Mark Miller          Volkswagen  +    2:20
 3.  Robby Gordon         Hummer      + 1h27:13
 4.  Ivar Erik Tollefsen  Nissan      + 5h55:01
 5.  Krzysztof Holowczyc  Nissan      + 6h37:32
 6.  Joan Roma            Mitsubishi  + 7h27:08
 7.  Dieter Depping       Volkswagen  + 8h28:55
 8.  Miroslav Zapletal    Mitsubishi  +10h52:26
 9.  Leonid Novitskiy     BMW         +13h15:11
10.  Rene Kuipers         BMW         +14h40:17

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