MMSP and Peterhansel win Rally of Tunisia

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

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

Stage 8: Ras El Oued - Tozeur (183 kms liaison, 282 kms stage, 40 kms liaison)

For immediate release
Monday, April 12th, 2004

Weather conditions: hot and sunny, 29-32 C


* Masuoka pleased with testing data in Tunisia
* Three Ralliart customer cars inside final top 10

TOZEUR (Tunisia): Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports team driver Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret clinched victory in the seven-day Rally of Tunisia, by finishing first overall through the final selective section between Ras El Oued and a scenic 'Star Wars' filming location at Nefta, near Tozeur, today (Monday).

The 2002 event winner began the morning's 282 kms competitive section with a commanding 69-minute lead over his nearest rival, the UAE's Khalifa Al-Motaiwi. He eventually beat the BMW driver by a margin of 1h 14m 13s.

~Last year's Rally of Tunisia was my third consecutive disappointment and now, 12 months later, this is my third win in three major rallies,~ enthused Peterhansel. ~It is a great feeling. This was not the hardest of races for me, because after two days I had a big advantage. But it is easy to lose concentration when you are not pushing to the limit. Today's stage had difficult navigation, but it was not a real problem.~

Japanese team mate Hiroshi Masuoka and French co-driver Gilles Picard shadowed Peterhansel to the finish of today's section in the second Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution. They lost their chance of taking a podium placing after clutch problems on the first stage last week and finished second overall through the final stage.

~My rally was over after the first day,~ said Masuoka. ~But it was a good chance for the team to test the cars. It was not an easy rally. Some of the stages were difficult and the navigation was tricky. It was a case of being careful today and making sure that the team took a top result.~

~Everybody worked very hard,~ said MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~This was a great result for Mitsubishi, Stéphane, Jean-Paul and the whole team. I feel upset for Hiroshi and Gilles, because the problems they had on the first day gave them no chance to challenge for the win.

~We used the rally to carry out extensive testing with new tires, brakes, dampers and shock absorbers and this was a very useful exercise. Only a race environment can prove whether the revisions we have made are successful. It was a nice rally. The stages were more difficult than last year and the sand storms and sections without GPS made it that much tougher.~

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports Team's next event will be the Orpi Rally of Morocco at the start of June. Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret will be joined by a second yet-to-be-announced driver.

Overall positions after final stage: (unofficial 13.30 hrs local time)
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 21h 02m 49s
2. Khalifa Al-Mutaiwi (UAE)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 Rallye-Raid 22h 17m 02s
3. Stéphane Henrard (B)/Alain Low (B) Volkswagen Tarek 22h 40m 06s
4. Jose-Luis Monterde (E)/Rafael Tornabell (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 23h 33m 13s
5. Georges Lansac (F)/ Jean-Robert Jacquemard (F) Pro Truck 23h 44m 30s
6. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 23h 50m 14s

Positions on Ras El Oued-Tozeur stage: (unofficial 13.30 hrs local time)
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 49m 02s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 51m 29s
3. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2h 53m 15s
4. Khalifa Al-Mutaiwi (UAE)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 Rallye-Raid 2h 54m 02s
5. Phillipe Gache (F)/Bruno Cattarelli (F) Buggy SMG 2h 56m 42s
6. Georges Lansac (F)/ Jean-Robert Jacquemard (F) Pro Truck 2h 58m 19s

Ralliart Teams

* Three Ralliart customer cars inside final top 10

Spaniards Jose-Luis Monterde and Rafael Tornabell began the final stage in fourth overall and maintained their position to the finish, 40 kms from Tozeur.

~I had a big fight with Housieaux today,~ said Monterde. ~Over the last 100 kms I eased off a little, because after a jump we had a heavy landing and damaged the front of the car. It was a hard stage for me. I have a headache and a sore neck.~

Frenchman Dominique Housieaux and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marie Lurquin held sixth position at the start of the final stage and ended the rally in a similar position.

~I drove nearly 150 kms behind Monterde before PC2 and after PC3 today,~ said Housieaux. ~We had a good battle. It became quite tactical! The navigation was not easy, but the tracks were fast and I enjoyed the stage.~

Poles Lukasz Komornicki and Rafal Marton had moved up to eighth position after the stage from El Borma to Ras El Oued and began the final run into Tozeur in seventh overall. They finished in the same position.

~After the start we damaged the front differential ,~ said Komornicki. ~But I managed to finish the stage in a good position, despite the damage. There were no problems with the navigation today.~

Overall final positions: (unofficial 13.30 hrs local time)
4. Jose-Luis Monterde (E)/Rafael Tornabell (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 23h 33m 13s
6. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 23h 50m 14s
7. Lukasz Komornicki (PL)/Rafal Marton (PL) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 23h 58m 51s


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Date issued: 12/04/2004

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