Mitsubishi takes first Dakar Rally stage win in Morocco

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally
Leg 5: Er Rachidia - Ouarzazate (56 kms liaison, 337 kms special, 182 kms liaison)

For immediate release
Monday, January 5th, 2004

Weather conditions: dry, clear and sunny (12 to 16C)


Rally leader Peterhansel wins first stage for Mitsubishi;
15m 33s ahead of nearest non-Mitsubishi;
Masuoka second overall; Biasion loses four minutes;

OUARZAZATE (Morocco): Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports (MMSP) team drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Hiroshi Masuoka and Miki Biasion hold first, second and eighth positions in the 2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally, after a varied 337 kms special stage between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate in Morocco today (Monday).

Peterhansel drove the fastest of the three Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions to record the Japanese manufacturer's first stage victory on the most difficult section of this year's Dakar Rally to date.

The Frenchman and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret beat team mates Hiroshi Masuoka and Gilles Picard by 4m 35s, after taking the lead mid-way through the section through the Erg Chebbi, south of Erfoud. They now lead their team mates by 6m 12s.

~It was a great stage for me today,~ said Peterhansel. ~Last night I decided that I would push this morning if I felt in the right frame of mind. I know this stage quite well. Around 80% of the terrain has been used on the Rally of Morocco and Mitsubishi and other teams tested cars in this area last summer. I felt happy to press on.~

Defending Dakar champion Masuoka led through the early section of the stage, but ultimately consolidated his second position in the overall classification with the second fastest time.

Biasion and co-driver Tiziano Siviero finished the stage in eighth place. They had been running in third position after the second passage control, but lost over four minutes. Germany's Andrea Mayer and co-driver Andreas Schulz were classified 14th through the stage and hold a similar position in the overall standings (More news later).

~We have made a good start, but this is the Dakar Rally and there are some very difficult days ahead,~ said MMSP Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~Stephane has a 15-minute lead over the third-placed driver, but that is nothing. It is like having a 10s advantage on a WRC rally! There is a long way to go.~

Belgian BMW driver Gregoire de Mevius was fifth quickest through the stage and holds third overall, albeit 15m 33s behind Peterhansel in the leading Mitsubishi.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) begins with a 176 kms liaison from Ouarzazate to the competitive start in Foum Zguid and a tricky 351 kms special stage to Foum El Hassan. This is a particularly rocky stage, with several fast twisty sections. A 276 kms liaison passes through the town of Goulimine, en route to the Atlantic coastal town of Tan-Tan in the south of Morocco.

Overall positions after Leg 5 (provisional - 15.05 hrs):
1. Stephane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 26m 31s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 32m 43s
3. Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 Raid 4h 42m 04s
4. Luc Alphand (F)/Henri Magne (F) BMW X5 Raid 4h 42m 28s
5. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Francois Jourdaan (ZA) Nissan Pick-Up 4h 42m 36s
6. Colin McRae (GB)/Tina Thorner (S) Nissan Pick-Up 4h 42m 43s
7. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (F) Schlesser-Ford 4h 44m 30s
8. Miki Biasion (I)/Tiziano Siviero (I) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 45m 00s
9. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Marc Bartholome (B) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 4h 51m 20s
10. Jose-Marie Servia (E)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser-Ford 4h 52m 28s
14. Andrea Mayer (D)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 4h 56m 26s

Positions on Er Rachidia - Ouarzazate stage (provisional - 15.05 hrs):
1. Stephane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 14m 11s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 18m 46s
3. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Francois Jourdaan (ZA) Nissan Pick-Up 3h 27m 06s
4. Luc Alphand (F)/Henri Magne (F) BMW X5 Raid 3h 27m 49s
5. Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 Raid 3h 28m 16s
6. Colin McRae (GB)/Tina Thorner (S) Nissan Pick-Up 3h 28m 28s



Monterde and Kolberg cautious; Ding survives watersplash

Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah continued to lead the seven Mitsubishi Ralliart customer team drivers, as the Dakar Rally headed into Ouarzazate on Monday evening. The Qatari held ninth overall with Belgian co-driver Marc Bartholome in a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero after setting the 11th fastest time today.

~I am very happy with my position, but a little frustrated that I cannot push harder. My car does not have the power of the factory Evolution cars,~ said Al-Attiyah. ~I know I can drive faster, but my priority has to be to finish the rally.~

~I was looking forward to this stage,~ said 18th-placed Pole Lukasz Komornicki. ~I remembered it well from two years ago on the Dakar and we drove some sections on the Morocco Rally last year.~

Frenchman Dominique Housieux and Spaniard Jose-Luis Monterde hold 17th and 23rd positions. ~One of my electric cooling fans failed on the stage yesterday and we were forced to slow down,~ said Monterde. ~It was replaced last night, but I was not going to push too hard today.~

~I am very happy at this stage,~ said 22nd-placed Brazilian Klever Kolberg. ~I have used the same car now four times on the Dakar. Each year we develop it a little more. This year I am developing a new suspension setting and it has been very good so far. I have also been developing a new tyre with Pirelli in Brazil. Pirelli has been my sponsor for a long time.~

~We went through a watersplash on the stage into Er Rachidia and water got into the cockpit,~ said Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Chinese driver Luo Ding. ~For a short time I thought we had a serious problem with the ECU, but it was nothing.~

Mitsubishi Ralliart customer teams - Positions after leg 5 (provisional 15.05 hrs):
9. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Marc Bartholome (B) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 4h 51m 20s
17. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 5h 08m 36s
18. Lukasz Komornicki (PL)/Rafal Marton (PL) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 5h 09m 41s
22. Klever Kolberg (BR)/Roldan Lourival (BR) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 5h 17m 44s
23. Jose-Luis Monterde (E)/Rafael Tornabell (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 5h 22m 30s
32. Siriwat Pornsawan (TH)/Phillipe Bocande (F) Mitsubishi L200 Strada 5h 42m 51s

Luo Ding (CHN)/Serge Henninot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero NOT YET CLASSIFIED


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: 05/01/2004

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