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Peterhansel well clear after Tidjikja stage of Dakar Rally

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally
Leg 8: Atar - Tidjikja (34 kms liaison, 355 kms special, 0 kms liaison)

Thursday, January 8th, 2004

Weather conditions: cool, windy and slight drizzle in Atar (17 -18 C)
cool, dry and sandstorm conditions in Tidjikja (17 -18 C)

MITSUBISHI'S PETERHANSEL OUT ON
HIS OWN IN LEAD OF DAKAR RALLY

Peterhansel wins day's stage; Masuoka delayed and drops to third overall

TIDJIKJA (Mauritania): Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports (MMSP) team drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Hiroshi Masuoka and Andrea Mayer completed the 355 kms special stage of the 2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally between Atar and Tidjikja in Mauritania in first, ninth and ?? positions today (Thursday).

While stage winner Peterhansel extended his overall advantage to 1h 04m 38s over Belgian Gregoire de Mevius, there was drama for Japanese overnight leader Hiroshi Masuoka. The defending champion lost over 90 minutes at the 230 kms point with transmission trouble and slipped to third overall. He finished the stage 1h 34m 14s behind Peterhansel.

Stage winner Peterhansel is bidding to become only the second individual in the 26-year history of the Dakar Rally to win the event on both two and four wheels - he holds the record of six motorcycle wins, but only Frenchman Hubert Auriol has ever won in both disciplines.

~I am really happy to reach the bivouac with the fastest time,~ said Peterhansel. ~It was a difficult day and a very tough stage. After 39 kms we lost the correct track a couple of times. The road book was not very clear and we needed to use the GPS. I had one flat tyre, but I am pleased because I am now in a good position.~

Teams tackled today's arduous special in sandstorm-like conditions and reduced visibility. Masuoka, with 23 Dakar stage wins to his name, began the section with an overall lead of 11m 42s over his French team mate and was running at the head of the field until he hit trouble.

~We had a serious gearbox problem today,~ said Masuoka. ~We lost first gear and it was very difficult in the slow technical sections of the stage. We should be able to repair it tonight.~

German lady driver Andrea Mayer was delighted with her performance into Atar, on the stage where she suffered a back injury as a motorcyclist on the 1999 Dakar Rally. Over today's tricky special, into the remote, windswept sandstrip at Tidjikja, she lay 18th overall through the first passage control.

While Mitsubishi Motors Team drivers spent the night in Tidjikja, team engineers and mechanics set out on the punishing drive from Atar to Nema. No service was permitted in Tidjikja, as mechanics caught up on much-needed rest in Atar this morning before the marathon 1550 kms road liaison to Nema.

Tomorrow (Friday) offers the longest special stage on the entire event, the special starting a mere three kilometers from the Tidjikja rest halt. The 736 kms stage into Nema sets out across fast and twisty sand tracks, as far as the remote Tichit oasis - a bivouac on both the 2001 and 2002 Dakar rallies.

The terrain becomes more inhospitable, as teams pass the Elephant Rocks and the infamous Enji pass, where many competitors were badly delayed in a violent sand storm in 1985. Friday night will be the first permitted service point since Atar.

Overall positions after Leg 8 (provisional - 17.30 hrs GMT):
1. Stephane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 18h 54m 05s
2. Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 Raid 19h 58m 43s
3. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 20h 16m 37s
4. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (F) Schlesser-Ford 20h 23m 47s
5. Luc Alphand (F)/Henri Magne (F) BMW X5 21h 44m 12s

Positions on Atar to Tidjikja stage (provisional - 17.30 hrs GMT):
1. Stephane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5h 01m 25s
2. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 5h 30m 20s
3. Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 Raid 5h 33m 46s
4. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (F) Schlesser-Ford 5h 54m 45s
5. Luc Alphand (F)/Henri Magne (F) BMW X5 5h 56m 20s
6. Dominique Housieux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 5h 59m 18s


RALLIART TEAMS

FRENCHMAN HOUSIEUX LEADS THE WAY FOR
MITSUBISHI RALLIART TEAMS IN SIXTH PLACE

Al-Attiyah back on form; Monterde retires

Frenchman Dominique Housieux and co-driver Loic Fagot led the seven Mitsubishi Ralliart customer teams, as the route headed into windswept Tidjikja on Thursday. The Frenchman moved into eighth place on the run into Atar and completed today's stage in sixth position.

~I said at the start in Clermont-Ferrand that the long stages through Mauritania would sort the men from the boys,~ said the Frenchman. ~That was certainly the case on the long stage. Several of the front-runners had major problems. It was a case of being a little lucky and staying out of trouble in the soft sand. I felt quite fresh at the start this morning.~

His performance was matched by the Polish driver Lukasz Komornicki, who arrived in Atar in ninth position and moved up to 13th in the overall standings. Brazilian Klever Kolberg began today's stage in 12th overall, after gaining five places on the Atar stage.

There was disappointment for early pace setter Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah. The Qatari began the stage into Atar in ninth position, but wrecked the front suspension on his Pajero/Montero over a sand dune and was forced to wait for his assistance truck.

He lost over five hours awaiting emergency service and was classified 73rd at the third passage control, but managed to finish the stage in 42nd place and 27th position overall, over five and a half hours behind the leaders.

Spanish team mates Jose-Luis Monterde and Rafael Tornabell were also badly delayed before the second passage control into Atar with engine-related problems and failed to restart this morning.

Thailand's Siriwat Pornsawan overcame his dislike of sand dunes to bring his Mitsubishi L200 Strada to the start of today's stage in 18th position and Team Mitsubishi Ralliart China team mate Luo Ding moved up to 58th overall by finishing the Atar stage in 71st place.

Mitsubishi Ralliart customer teams - Positions after leg 8 (provisional 17.45 hrs GMT):
6. Dominique Housieux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 22h 14m 08s
Klever Kolberg (BR)/Roldan Lourival (BR) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero*
Lukasz Komornicki (PL)/Rafal Marton (PL) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero*
Siriwat Pornsawan (TH)/Phillipe Bocande (F) Mitsubishi L200 Strada*
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Marc Bartholome (B) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero*
Luo Ding (CHN)/Serge Henninot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero*
Jose-Luis Monterde (E)/Rafael Tornabell (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero RETIRED IN ATAR
*NOT YET CLASSIFIED

Ends

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: 08/01/2004

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