Peterhansel heads for Mali over an hour clear on Dakar Rally
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News
2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally
Leg 10: Nema - Bamako (stage cancelled - 927 kms road liasion directly to Bamako)
Saturday, January 10th, 2004
Weather conditions: warm and overcast (18-22 C)
MITSUBISHI'S PETERHANSEL TAKES OVER ONE-HOUR
ADVANTAGE INTO FINAL WEEK OF DAKAR RALLY
Masuoka second overall and fastest over special into Nema
Germany lady Mayer delayed with suspension trouble in seventh overall
NEMA (Mauritania): Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports (MMSP) team drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Hiroshi Masuoka and Andrea Mayer will take first, second and seventh places in the overall standings of the 2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally into the final six stages, starting next Tuesday in Bobo-Diuolasso.
Following the TSO's decision to cancel the special stages set for Saturday and Sunday, the entire Dakar caravan headed directly into a 927 kms road liaison section on Saturday to Bamako.
Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka won the longest stage of the rally - the 736 kms section into Nema - beating team mate Stephane Peterhansel by 18m 32s. In so doing, he recorded his 24th special stage win on the Dakar Rally and moved back into second position when Belgian Gregoire de Mevius was badly delayed. Former champion Jean-Louis Schlesser now holds third overall in his Schlesser-Buggy.
~It was a fantastic stage for me,~ said Masuoka. ~I am delighted. We did not have one single problem all day and now we are second again.~
Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret finished the marathon special stage in second position in their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution and now lead the Dakar Rally by 1h 04m going into the final six special stages next week.
~It was an incredibly long special stage,~ said Peterhansel. ~It was not too difficult, but you just had to keep concentrating and focusing on the track. I am very happy to be here in this position.~
German lady Andrea Mayer and co-driver Andreas Schulz began the stage in seventh position in the overall standings and retained their place in the overall classification, despite breaking the front suspension in the same place where repairs had been carried out in Tidjikja in the early hours of Friday morning.
~It was bad luck for us,~ said Mayer. ~But then we drove slowly, because our goal is to reach Dakar in a top 10 position next Sunday.~
~It was been a typical Dakar Rally so far,~ reflected MMSP's Head of Motorsport Sven Quandt in Nema. ~But maybe the organisers pushed it a little too far this time in terms of stretching the resources of teams and privateers. Under the circumstances it was a sensible decision to cancel the next two special stages.
~Besides, if there was going to be a threat to the safety of people on the rally, then it was an obvious decision to put safety first. That is of paramount importance for the future and stability of the Dakar Rally.~
Tomorrow (Sunday) was scheduled to be the final special stage before Monday's rest day in Bobo Dioulasso. But the section was neutralised and competitors will make their way via a road section from Bamako to Bobo-Dioulasso.
AL-ATTIYAH SEVENTH FASTEST INTO NEMA
Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah completed the 736 kms special stage into Nema in seventh position, despite running out of fuel 30 kms from the end of the special. He was fortunate that a passing bike rider stopped and gave him 12 litres of fuel to enable him to reach the stage finish in the Nema bivouac.
~I really enjoyed this stage,~ said the Qatari. ~I had not driven on a special stage at night before the Dakar Rally since the Qatar Rally in the mid-1990s. I was just staring through the screen at the track to make sure I had complete concentration. The desert is so different at night. Everything takes on a new dimension.~
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