Mitsubishi relishes Dakar Rally challenge

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally
News from scrutineering in Clermont-Ferrand, France

For immediate release
Wednesday, December 31st, 2003

Weather conditions: cold and icy (light snow overnight): -2C to 4C


Mitsubishi aims for fourth consecutive outright victory;
Peterhansel determined; Masuoka bids for hat-trick; 28 Mitsubishi teams take part in total

CLERMONT-FERRAND (France): The Mitsubishi Motor Sport Team made its final preparations before the start of the 2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally today (Wednesday), when the four official MMSP team entries passed through scrutineering at the spectator-filled Grandes Halles d'Auvergne, south of chilly Clermont-Ferrand, in France.

Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel joins Japan's defending champion Hiroshi Masuoka and the Italian twice former World Champion Miki Biasion in a trio of Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions, with Germany's Andrea Mayer running a fourth Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero support car.

~You can never take anything for granted on this rally,~ said MMSP Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~It is so unpredictable. Things can be going well and then something can go wrong very quickly. I have learned to take each day at a time and never look too far ahead. We are well prepared, but so are the other teams. It is sure to be close and very exciting.~

~We have no pressure on us, because we have made a long test with the new car and I am confident,~ said Peterhansel. ~We spent four weeks testing. Everything is ready and all is okay. The new engine gives me more torque and I prefer this. Some drivers like power at higher revs, but I prefer an engine with power lower down for the dunes and the soft sand. This is perfect for me.~

~I hope to win the rally for the third time and make a hat-trick,~ said Masuoka. ~I like Mauritania very much and like to race there. For me the most important thing is for the team to win. There are about 10 drivers with a very good chance of winning. One mistake or a mechanical problem could be decisive.~

~I enjoyed last year very much with Mitsubishi,~ said Biasion. ~It was my first Dakar with a car. I lost the podium with a technical problem on the last day, but I am confident this time and hope to do a good job for the team. I have a brand new car. I sustained an injury in the UAE Desert Challenge and have not driven a rally car since the crash, but I feel very well and hope I have no trouble with my ribs. I finished 25th overall and fifth in the Truck category with a small truck in Dakar before. But that was for fun. This is professional now and totally different.~

~This year will be so different for me in many instances,~ said Mayer. ~We have undergone fitness training and technical training. I am a support driver and I take that job very seriously. If my team mates have a problem I will stop. We have all the parts and tools we can put in our car and my co-driver Andy (Andreas Schulz) is a very good mechanic.~

After months of testing, fine tuning and meticulous preparations by the team of around 50 drivers, co-drivers, management personnel, engineers, mechanics and various other team members, Mitsubishi's challenge for a fourth consecutive Dakar Rally victory officially gets underway on Thursday afternoon (New Year's Day).

The competition action for the Mitsubishi Motors team begins at around 2 pm with a 1.5 kms super special stage over boggy ground, adjacent to the parc ferme and scrutineering area. Team members will then head south on a 396 kms liaison section to the first overnight halt in Narbonne.



Seven Mitsubishi Ralliart customer teams will tackle the 2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally. Six of the seven drivers have entered the 18-day rally in Mitsubishi Pajeros/Monteros.

The experienced Spaniard Jose-Luis Monterde, Brazilian Klever Kolberg and Poland's Lukasz Komornicki are joined by Frenchman Dominique Housieux, Qatari newcomer Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, China's Luo Ding and Thailand's Siriwat Pornsawan in the sole Mitsubishi L200 Strakar.

~I think it is possible for me to take a top 10 position again,~ said Monterde. ~But there is no point in pushing hard too early. No day is more difficult than the other. They are all difficult. A small problem in Africa can quickly become a very big problem.~

~I have been to the Dakar on two occasions,~ said Komornicki. ~The first time we had a Toyota and a problem with the turbo between Atar and Tidjikja. Last year we had electrical problems on the first Marathon stage. The goal for us this time is to finish. I think the most difficult sections will be on the border between Mauritania and Mali in the soft dunes and then when we come back into Senegal without the GPS.~

~This really is a fantastic event,~ said Dakar debutant and recently-crowned FIA Middle East rally champion Al-Attiyah. ~I am still getting used to the cold, but there are so many people here. The scale of the race is huge. It is unbelievable - so different to the Middle East.~

~I did not finish last time I was here and that makes me more determined to do well this time,~ said Ding, who is running under the Team Mitsubishi Ralliart China banner. ~I have had some training before the race and we are well prepared. I am looking forward to the challenge.~

~I came to Dakar three times in 1992, 1993 and 1995,~ said Pornsawan. ~We are back again this year and I will represent my country. In 2002 I won the local championship and I retained my title this year. The Mitsubishi L200 is built in Thailand, so it was an obvious choice for me to take this car on the Dakar.~

~We have returned to a traditional format for the Dakar this year,~ admitted Housieux. ~It will be very difficult. I must take it easy through Morocco and make sure that I reach the rest day. Dakar is a long way away at the moment. It is my 13th Dakar and my best position so far was seventh overall.~

In addition to the four MMSP factory drivers and the seven Mitsubishi Ralliart customer cars, a further 17 Mitsubishi entrants will tackle the 18-day rally across a total of 11,052.5 kms.


For further information, please contact:
Mitsubishi Motor Sports, MMSP, E-mail: info@mitsubishi-motor-sports.com
Copyright free photographs can be downloaded from:-
www.mitsubishi-motors.com or www.mmsp-media.com

Date issued: 31/12/2003

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