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MMSP leads into Ras El Oued by nearly an hour

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2004 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup
Optic 2000 Rally of Tunisia, round 1

Leg 5: El Borma - Ras El Oued (47 kms liaison, 274 kms stage, 0.8 km liaison)

For immediate release
Saturday, April 10th, 2004

Weather conditions: hot, sunny and strong wind, 29-32 C

MITSUBISHI MOTORS MOTOR SPORTS TEAM DRIVER PETERHANSEL ARRIVES IN RAS EL OUED NEARLY ONE HOUR AHEAD OF NEAREST RIVAL

* Peterhansel and Masuoka set first and second fastest times on fifth leg
* Monterde leads Ralliart customer teams into Ras El Oued; Komornicki fastest today

RAS EL OUED (Tunisia): Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports team driver Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret completed the 274 kms fifth selective section of the Rally of Tunisia, from El Borma to Ras El Oued, in first position, today (Saturday).

The French pair duly extended their outright lead to 59m 53s over Japan's Kenjiro Shinozuka and co-driver Pascal Maimon, who hold second place in a Nissan Pick-Up.

~We started fifth on the road today, but after 40 kms we lost the correct route,~ said Peterhansel. ~I was following Shinozuka and we both got lost. We stopped and waited for Hiroshi and went back to the previous GPS waypoint to try and find the correct track. I prefer to open the road than follow someone. This was the first time that we have lost our way.

~Afterwards he found a good track and pushed quite hard to try and make up the time. Maybe 70 kms from the finish we both passed Khalifa (Al-Motaiwi) and (Thierry) Magnaldi and actually set the fastest times. The end of the stage was very technical. There was a lot of gravel and it was slippery. It was great fun to drive.

~We were testing a new tire today. This was the first time we had driven it on rocky ground and I said to Jean-Paul in the middle of the stage that I would push a little to test the tire. He was cautious in case we got a puncture, but it was a good test of about 100 kms and the tires performed very well.~

MMSP team mates Hiroshi Masuoka and Gilles Picard began the section in sixth position on the road in the second Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution - which the Mitsubishi team had used on Friday to carry out further testing with BF Goodrich tire technicians in the sand dunes around the bivouac. Masuoka was second fastest today, behind his team mate.

~Stéphane and I drove five kilometers to try and find the right track,~ said Masuoka. ~Then we passed the Buggy and the BMW. I had a flat rear right tire just before the assistance point and drove for 15 kms to the assistance before we could change it quickly.~

~We have carried out quite a bit of tire testing over the last few days,~ said MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~The dunes around El Borma were quite useful and both Stéphane and Hiroshi have been able to benefit from a lot of time behind the wheel with various BF Goodrich tire compounds.~

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the third loop stage and the final section where the use of the GPS is not permitted. The 314 kms Ras El Oued loop is new, except for the first 56 kms, and features several pipeline roads and many kilometers of rutted washboard tracks. After reaching Bir Aj Brahim, the route heads towards Ksar Ghilane - renowned for its hot springs - and many kilometers of rutted tracks follow to the finish.

Overall positions after El Borma-Ras El Oued stage: (unofficial 13.50 hrs local time)
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 14h 24m 08s
2. Kenjiro Shinozuka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Nissan Pick-Up 15h 24m 01s
3. Thierry Magnaldi (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Honda Buggy 15h 36m 22s
4. Stéphane Henrard (B)/Alain Low (B) Volkswagen Tarek 15h 40m 26s
5. Khalifa Al-Mutaiwi (UAE)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 Rallye-Raid 15h 42m 37s
6. Jose-Luis Monterde (E)/Rafael Tornabell (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 16h 34m 40s

Positions on El Borma-Ras El Oued stage: (unofficial 13.50 hrs local time)
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 56m 06s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 56m 51s
3. Phillipe Gache (F)/Bruno Cattarelli (F) SMG Buggy 2h 57m 59s
4. Thierry Magnaldi (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Honda Buggy 3h 07m 08s
5. Lukasz Komornicki (PL)/Rafal Marton (PL) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 3h 08m 25s
6. Khalifa Al-Mutaiwi (UAE)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 Rallye-Raid 3h 09m 51s

Ralliart Teams

* Monterde leads Ralliart customer teams into Ras El Oued; Komornicki fastest today

Spaniards Jose-Luis Monterde and Rafael Tornabell began the Ras El Oued stage in sixth position in their Pajero/Montero.

~It was a nice stage, fast and flowing,~ said Castellon-based Monterde. ~We had a rear left flat tire about 80 kms after the start and lost some time changing it, but then we couldn't push too hard, because the engine temperature would start to climb.~

Poles Lukasz Komornicki and Rafal Marton slipped to 13th position after navigational problems on the El Borma loop stage, but suffered no problems on the run into Ras El Oued and set the fastest time of the three Ralliart customers today.

~No problems today,~ said Komornicki. ~We like this technical type of stage. The terrain was stunning. Now we must push a little harder on Sunday and try and climb back up the leaderboard.~

Frenchman Dominique Housieaux and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marie Lurquin began the selective out of El Borma in 10th position.

~The stage was nice,~ said Housieaux. ~We had a good speed, although it was twisty and technical. We had a flat tire, which we managed to change quickly, but then we saw a motorcyclist had fallen and he was complaining of an injured wrist. Jean-Marie lifted the bike for him and we followed him for a short time up a rocky ascent and then continued at our normal speed when we realised that he was okay.~

Overall positions after El Borma-Ras El Oued stage: (unofficial at 13.50 hrs local time)
6. Jose-Luis Monterde (E)/Rafael Tornabell (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 16h 34m 40s
TBA. Lukasz Komornicki (PL)/Rafal Marton (PL) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 16h 50m 55s
TBA. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 16h 51m 04s

Ends

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Date issued: 10/04/2004

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