Biasion leads the way for Mitsubishi in the snow
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News
2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally
Leg 1: Region D'Auvergne - Narbonne (1.5 kms special, 395 kms liaison)
For immediate release
Thursday, January 1st, 2004
Weather conditions: cold and light snow (1C to 3C)
BIASION LEADS THE WAY FOR MITSUBISHI MOTOR
SPORTS IN OPENING STAGE OF DAKAR RALLY
Four MMSP cars inside top 10; Masuoka holds fourth place
Stage win for Shinozuka; Sixth place for Mayer/Schulz
CLERMONT-FERRAND (France): Mitsubishi Motor Sports team drivers held third, fourth, sixth and eighth positions in the overall classification after the first leg of the 2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally in Clermont-Ferrand today (Thursday).
In front of an estimated crowd of 5000 spectators, who welcomed the Dakar Rally caravan to the icy Region D'Auvergne for the first time since 1991, Japan's Kenjiro Shinozuka set the fastest time over the dual route around the muddy outer perimeter tracks of the Grande Halles complex. Light snow had begun to fall shortly after the first motorcycle commenced the special stage.
Driving a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution and partnered by Tiziano Siviero, twice former World Rally Champion Miki Biasion completed the stage a mere 0.84 seconds behind Shinozuka in third position, with Mitsubishi Motor Sports team mate and defending champion Hiroshi Masuoka in fourth in a second Pajero/Montero Evolution.
Germany's Andrea Mayer, who is making her Dakar debut with the official MMSP factory team, finished the stage in sixth with co-driver Andreas Schulz. French team mates Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret were eighth overall.
Four hundred entrants - 142 cars, 195 bikes and 63 trucks - began the rally today under the distant shadow of the extinct, snow-capped Puy du Dome volcano in the Auvergne region. After the stage a 395 kms liaison section took teams to the first overnight halt at Narbonne.
Tomorrow (Friday) the MMSP team embarks upon a six-kilometer liaison section to the start of a tricky 25 kms special stage near Narbonne. This is followed by a 532 kms road section across the border into Spain and the second overnight halt at Castellon on the coast.
Overall positions after Leg 1 (provisional top 8):
1. Kenjiro Shinozuka (J)/Arnaud Debron (F) Nissan Pick-Up 1m 41.62s
2. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Francois Jourdaan (ZA) Nissan Pick-Up 1m 42.15s
3. Miki Biasion (I)/Tiziano Siviero (I) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1m 42.26s
4. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1m 43.49s
5. Luc Alphand (F)/Henri Magne (F) BMW X5 Raid 1m 44.98s
6. Andrea Mayer (D)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 1m 46.56s
7. Bruno Saby (F)/Matthew Stevenson (GB) Volkswagen Touareg 1m 48.88s
8. Stephane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1m 49.83s
For further information, please contact:
Mitsubishi Motor Sports, MMSP, E-mail: email@example.com
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