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Peterhansel wins Dakar Rally for Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally
Leg 17 (Final leg): Dakar - Dakar (42 kms liaison, 27 kms special, 37 kms liaison)

Sunday, January 18th, 2004

Weather conditions: cool, sunny and windy (+17 to + 21 C)

FRENCHMAN PETERHANSEL TAKES CRUSHING MAIDEN
DAKAR RALLY VICTORY FOR MITSUBISHI MOTORS TEAM

DAKAR (Senegal): Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports (MMSP) team driver Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret clinched victory in the 2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally today (Sunday).

The 38-year-old Frenchman's triumph at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution marked a fourth successive win for the Japanese manufacturer and a record-breaking ninth overall victory for the Pont-de-Vaux-based MMSP factory team.

Peterhansel also became only the second individual in Dakar history to win the world's most famous endurance rally on a bike and in a car (Hubert Auriol won two bike titles and the 1992 Paris to Cape Town Rally for the Mitsubishi team).

Stephane's success came 12 months after the six-times motorcycle winner's victory aspirations had ended in bitter disappointment when he threw away a potential win on the penultimate stage and was forced to settle for third overall.

~On the liaison section this morning I couldn't help but think about last year,~ said a delighted Peterhansel. ~It has been a long time to wait one year for this victory. There were many times when it was easy to make a mistake. I spoke with Jean-Paul when we crossed the finish line of the special today and thanked him for a great job. I am happy for him. It's his first Dakar win.

~For the first win with the bike I had to wait four years. For the first win with the car it took me six. It is a completely different feeling. Hiroshi drove a perfect race as well, but it was my turn this time!~

Defending champion and team mate Hiroshi Masuoka, partnered by Gilles Picard, finished runner-up in the second of the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions, 49m 24s behind Peterhansel. The Japanese former leader had shadowed his team mate since losing more than an hour with a transmission problem on the Atar to Tidjikja stage in Mauritania last week.

~I am very pleased for Stephane and for Mitsubishi,~ said Masuoka. ~I drove a good race. It was not easy. Mauritania was difficult. Next year I will push for the third win.~

Co-driver Gilles Picard was delighted with his second position. ~I am happy to be here,~ said Picard. ~It has been a great team performance. I just wish sometimes that the media would not just highlight the role of the co-driver when we make a small mistake. I know that we are here to be in the shadow of the driver, but it is never easy to finish the Dakar.~

MMSP's German support crew Andrea Mayer and Andreas Schulz completed the 11,052 kms route in an excellent fifth overall in their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero. The success was Mayer's first Dakar as a member of the full Mitsubishi factory team acting as a support driver for Peterhansel, Masuoka and Italian Miki Biasion.

~It is a different feeling to finish this race as a member of an official team,~ said Mayer. ~On a bike you are alone. When I crossed the finish line today I knew it had been a great team effort. Andreas has been fantastic. I know he is used to challenging for the win, but he has been crucial to my result. I know I still have things to learn, but Andy, the mechanics and all the team have supported me to Dakar and I thank them with this fifth place.~

Peterhansel and Masuoka had dominated the Dakar Rally since the event entered Morocco and the traditional African special stages. Peterhansel eventually finished 3h 00m 33s ahead of Jean-Louis Schlesser's third-placed Buggy, his nearest non-Mitsubishi rival. Stephane won two of the timed competitive sections, Masuoka won four.

The Italian duo of Miki Biasion and Tiziano Siviero were forced to retire the team's fourth car after rolling on the Ouarzazate to Tan-Tan stage in Morocco.

~It was a great victory and the whole team worked very hard for it,~ said MMSP's Head of Motorsport Sven Quandt. ~I am happy that we made it one, two and five. I think it was fair for Stephane to win this time. He deserves to be very happy and proud of himself today. Andrea had a very good result, perhaps better than we expected. She drove in a very professional manner. It was one of the toughest Dakars that I have seen, which is good for Mitsubishi because we have shown that we can win the hardest of all the rallies.~

~My feeling is strange,~ said MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~Everybody in the team has done a good job. We could not win this rally if the tip of the iceberg was not functioning and the mechanics and drivers of the trucks can be proud of themselves. It may have looked easy from the outside, but we had our fair share of problems to overcome.

~This is a great win for Mitsubishi, but it is also a human win - a great day for Stephane. It was the same when Hiroshi lost in 2001 and he won the following year. It has been a long 12 months for Stephane. I feel really emotional as well for Jean-Paul and Andrea. She drove a great rally. She was always smiling and never complaining.~

Final positions in Dakar after leg 17:
1. Stephane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 53h 47m 37s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 54h 37m 01s
3. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (F) Schlesser-Ford 56h 48m 10s
4. Luc Alphand (F)/Henri Magne (F) BMW X5 Raid 57h 43m 35s
5. Andrea Mayer (D)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 59h 33m 54s
6. Bruno Saby (F)/Matthew Stevenson (GB) Volkswagen Touareg 60h 41m 40s
7. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Francois Jourdaan (ZA) Nissan Pick-Up 61h 53m 48s
8. Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 Raid 63h 22m 22s
9. Thierry Magnaldi (F)/Didier Legal (F) Honda 63h 48m 13s
10. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Marc Bartholome (B) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 63h 49m 05s

RALLIART TEAMS

AL-ATTIYAH LEADS RALLIART TEAMS
TO DAKAR FINISH IN NINTH PLACE

Kolberg recovers for 11th; Housieux 13th; China's Ding takes first Dakar finish in 46th place

Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah finished his first Dakar Rally in 10th place overall and led home the six surviving Mitsubishi Ralliart customer teams in his Pajero/Montero. Partnered by Belgian Marc Bartholome, the Qatari lost over five hours after an accident in Mauritania, but clawed his way back into the top 10 over the last two days of the event. He finished today's stage in third position overall.

~I feel great,~ said Al-Attiyah. ~It was a very nice event and I am here in Dakar. I feel like I have won this rally. I tried to push a little today and finished third on the stage. I will be back again next year.~

Brazilians Klever Kolberg and Roldan Lourival lost time over the later sections with clutch problems and delays with a faulty jack, but reached the finish in 11th position and fourth in the diesel class. ~It's a great feeling to be here in Dakar,~ said Kolberg.

Dominique Housieux and Loic Fagot had been as high as eighth overall before transmission trouble pushed them back to 13th at the finish.

~It was a superb Dakar for me,~ said Housieux. ~I felt fantastic to race along the beach today and to cross that finish line. I had some problems, but the team have worked very hard and I owe this win to my mechanics, my co-driver and my sponsors.~

Poland's Lukasz Komornicki and Rafal Marton overcame several time-consuming delays to record a finish in 14th position in the Team Orlen Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero.

~We are happy to be here,~ said Komornicki. ~We lost about 10 hours early in the race, but after Burkina Faso we decided to attack. This was our third Dakar, but we are not finished yet. We will be back again in 2005. I think there would only have been about 15 cars at the finish if the organisers had not cancelled two stages.~

Thailand's Siriwat Pornsawan and French co-driver Phillipe Bocande were classified 15th in the sole Mitsubishi L200 Strada and fifth overall in the diesel category. ~I feel so happy to be here,~ said Pornsawan. ~It was a difficult race. There were some sections where I struggled in the soft sand, but we made it!~

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart China's Luo Ding finished the Dakar for the first time at his second attempt, despite late gearbox problems and arriving very late into Dakar on Saturday evening. He was classified in 48th position with French co-driver Serge Henninot.

Ends



Date issued: 18/01/2004

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