Peterhansel and Despres win UAE Desert Challenge

UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge
FIA and FIM World Cups for Cross Country Rallies
Saturday, November 2nd, 2002


Crushing 1-2-3 for Team Mitsubishi Ralliart; Khamis and Al-Humrani shine for the UAE; Cox and Masuoka win the final stage

DUBAI (UAE): The UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge developed into a French benefit, with Cyril Despres riding his KTM to a crushing win in the two-wheel category and Stephane Peterhansel giving the new Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution victory on its world debut in the cars' category.

Both started the final 405 kms section from Liwa to a finish south of Dubai with commanding leads and eased to victory with a sensible pace over the final stage - a combination of dune crossings, subkhas and high-speed gatch roads.

The result marked a second successive win for Despres and a sensational debut for the new Mitsubishi, which the Japanese marque hopes will take the Dakar Rally by storm in January. South African Alfie Cox was once again destined to finish second overall in the two-wheel category.

Despres was understandably jubilant: ~I opened up a good lead over Alfie and then lost my way a little at the refuelling point. I soon found my way again and pushed to the finish. It is fantastic to win the rally for the second year. It was a nice stage.~

Cox, who was runner-up on this year's Dakar and has never won a major rally, was given a small glimpse of a possible win at the 11th hour. ~Cyril tore off into the distance and I thought it was all over,~ said Alfie. ~After refuelling I noticed there were no tracks in the sand. Maybe he was lost. So I really pushed hard for the last 80 kms. He eventually found his way, caught me up and we finished the stage shoulder to shoulder.~

Peterhansel finished fourth on today's stage behind second-placed Nissan driver Khalifa Al-Motaiwi and team mates Hiroshi Masuoka and Jean-Pierre Fontenay, but he was delighted with his first win on the UAE Desert Challenge.

~I had a big lead this morning and there was no need to push,~ insisted the Frenchman. ~There were two or three times this morning where we were not sure about the road book and we stopped to check the route was okay. We did not have one mechanical problem on this rally. The car is fast on the tracks and easy to drive on sand and in the dunes.~

Mitsubishi's Hiroshi Masuoka won his second successive stage in the cars' category. ~It was a very fast stage. I made speeds up to 191 km/h,~ said the Japanese star. ~It has been a nice rally, a good test. The Desert Challenge is a unique race.~

Team mates Fontenay and Biasion made it an overall Mitsubishi 1-2-3 by filling the podium places in 2002-specification Pajeros. Abu Dhabi's Saeed Al-Hemali finished fourth overall in a Nissan Patrol and Mark Powell produced the drive of his life to take fifth in a Land Rover.

It was a successful rally for the Marlboro-sponsored UAE duo of Khalid Khamis and Issa Al-Humrani. Khamis, riding a KTM, won the second desert stage on Thursday and went on to finish an excellent third overall, ahead of Dubai-based David McBride and the Italian Graziani.

UAE-based Tim Trenker crashed heavily a mere nine kilometres from the finish and fractured his leg. He was airlifted out of the stage by helicopter.

Al-Humrani, meanwhile, controlled proceedings in the T1 category at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Pajero, the UAE driver beating drivers of the calibre of Frenchman Thierry Magnaldi in the Mercedes ML430. He finished sixth overall.

The event was held under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander and the patronage of General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defence.

This year's UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge would not have been possible without the support of the UAE Government and Armed Forces and a host of local sponsors, including Philip Morris, the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Nissan, Inmarsat, Emarat, Adnoc, Damas, Messina Shipping, Konica, Oasis, Anlonits, Aramex, Red Bull and the Dubai Tourism Board.

AUTO - Unofficial final positions after SS4
No Name Auto Time
1 Stephane Peterhansel (F)/
Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution 15h 21m 01s
2 Jean-Pierre Fontenay (F)/
Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero 16h 03m 21s
3 Miki Biasion (I)/
Tiziano Siviero (I) Mitsubishi Pajero 16h 10m 44s
4 Saeed Al Hemali (UAE)/
Ahmad Juma Malik (UAE) Nissan Patrol 19h 43m 07s
5 Mark Powell (GB)/
Paul Richards (GB) Land Rover Defender 20h 07m 07s

MOTO - Unofficial final positions after SS4
1 Cyril Despres (F - KTM) 16h 55m 46s
2 Alfie Cox (ZA - KTM) 17h 02m 39s
3 Khalid Khamis (UAE - Honda) 17h 25m 38s
4 Dave McBride (UAE - KTM) 17h 34m 44s
5 Graziani (I - KTM) 17h 41m 48s
6 PG Lundmark (S - KTM) 17h 48m 39s
7 Antonio Colombo (I - KTM) 17h 59m 12s
8 Marek Dabrowski (PL - KTM) 18h 00m 40s
9 Pal-Anders Ullesvaeter (N - KTM) 18h 01m 43s
10 Miran Stanovnik (SLO - KTM) 18h 14m 14s


For further media information:
Neil Perkins,
2002 UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services,
Tel: + (9714) 2716871,
Fax: + (9714) 2715846
E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com

Date issued: 02/11/2002

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