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Sousa begins European Baja challenge in Portugal

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2004 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup
Baja Portugal, round 2

For immediate release
Tuesday May 4th, 2004

PORTUGAL'S SOUSA BEGINS FIA EUROPEAN BAJA PROGRAM IN MITSUBISHI MOTORS MOTOR SPORTS PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION

* Defending FIA World Cup champion kick-starts 2004 campaign

TREBUR (Germany): Portugal's Carlos Sousa and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne begin their challenge for success in this year's FIA European Baja Cup for Drivers, when they tackle the 17th Baja Vodafone 1000 in Portugal this weekend (May 6th-8th).

Sousa is the reigning FIA World Champion for Cross Country Rallies and his reward from Mitsubishi is a program of events in this year's FIA European Baja series at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports-prepared Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution. The car will run this season with additional support from Mitsubishi Portugal and Portuguese companies GALP, TMN and BPN.

The opening round of the series in Italy was cancelled, but it is fitting that the Lisbon-based driver should begin his challenge for 2004 honours by attempting to take a fifth victory on his home event in the last six years. Sousa will drive the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero used by Hiroshi Masuoka to take second position in this year’s Dakar Rally.

~This is a major step forward for Carlos,~ said MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~He has not raced competitively for six months, since winning the World Cup in Dubai, but I am sure that he will enjoy his entry into the full factory team. He has the full support of our team and I am confident that he can win the FIA European Baja Cup.

~It will be a good exercise for him to assess his progress and plans for the future. The Baja in Portugal is slower than its Spanish equivalent. The stages are more technical and twistier. Carlos has won several times and this experience should stand him in good stead.~

Sousa and Magne face a stiff challenge over the twisty and dusy gravel tracks in Central Portugal, which will make up the two-day route for this weekend's Baja event.

Drivers who pose a threat to his quest for a fourth successive victory include the UAE's Khalifa Al-Motaiwi and Frenchman Luc Alphand in a pair of BMW X5 Rallye-Raids, Frenchman Thierry Magnaldi in a Buggy, Belgian Stéphane Henrard in a Volkswagen Tarek and Portugal's Rui Sousa.

The event is being organised by the Clube Aventura Portugal and is based at Evora, 100 kms south of Lisbon. The weekend's timetable kicks off with scrutineering, documentation and a Prologue stage, near Evora, on Friday, May 7th.

Two 270 kms selective sections follow across remote terrain in the area around Mora and Brotos on Saturday. The podium finish in Evora takes place on Sunday evening after a third 100 kms selective section near Freixo and Rio de Mointor.


Ralliart Teams

* Germany lady driver Ellen Lohr to drive customer Pajero/Montero

German lady driver Ellen Lohr makes her competitive rallying debut this weekend, when she and co-driver Philipp Tiefenbach drive a Mitsubishi Ralliart-prepared Diesel Pajero/Montero. The world renowned racing driver is hoping to tackle several events this season in preparation for an assault at next year‘s Dakar Rally.

~I visited the Rally of Tunisia last month, met members of the Ralliart team and discussed the program of events for 2004,~ said Ellen. ~I will use a car built and managed by Ralliart and I‘m very much looking forward to the event. After the first tests I know that Philipp and I are going to be a good team. I have always raced on track without a co-driver so I‘m excited to experience concentrating on the driving and my co-driver‘s pace notes simultaneously.~

The Ralliart Team is headed up by Jürgen Masal. Masal took over the role of the Ralliart Team Manager from Frenchman Brice Fabry after the recent Rally of Tunisia.

Ends

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Date issued: 04/05/2004

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