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MMSP takes comfortable lead into final Moroccan stage

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2004 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup
Orpi Rally of Morocco, round 3

Leg 4: Laayoune – Oued Chebika (39 kms liaison – 332 kms special – 5 kms liaison)

For immediate release
Saturday, June 5th, 2004

Weather conditions: warm and cloudy with slight breeze: 19-27 C

PETERHANSEL TAKES COMFORTABLE ADVANTAGE FOR MITSUBISHI MOTORS MOTOR SPORTS TEAM INTO FINAL MOROCCAN STAGE

- Sousa slowed by flat tires; Mayer hits stone and loses time
- Housieaux remains fifth overall in Ralliart Pajero/Montero

OUED CHEBIKA (Morocco): Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret will begin Sunday’s final leg of the 2004 Orpi Rally of Morocco with a 26m 30s advantage over their nearest French rivals, Jean-Louis Schlesser and Francois Borsotto.

The pair steered their Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports-prepared Pajero/Montero Evolution to the second fastest time through Saturday’s 332 kms fifth selective between Laayoune and Oued Chebika on the Moroccan Atlantic coast.

They had lost out on the fastest time through the fourth stage on Friday, when French driver Phillipe Gache clocked a faster time in his Buggy, despite running nearly two hours behind the leaders. Volkswagen’s Bruno Saby set the fastest time through today’s stage, 41 seconds ahead of Peterhansel.

~It was a nice stage today with a lot of varied terrain, but the navigation was not easy,~ said Peterhansel.

~We started on the beach and then there was a section with a lot of rocks where I took it easy to avoid getting a puncture. Then there was a very fast track in the mountains and a technical section with many corners over grass. I enjoyed the stage. Now I am within sight of the finish.~

Defending FIA World Cup champion Carlos Sousa and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne ended the day in third position in the second Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution, but sustained two flat tires before the service point and were forced to stop for assistance while the rear right-hand wheel was changed and the damaged spare tire was replaced.

~It was not my lucky day today,~ said Sousa. ~We had two flat tires before the assistance point and then two more afterwards. I did not want to push after that because I kept thinking I would get a flat tire on the rocks. Then I saw Andrea (Mayer) stopped on the track with a broken wheel and we slowed a little, but managed to catch the cars that had overtaken us near the end of the stage.~

The German pairing of Andrea Mayer and co-driver Andreas Schulz were running in seventh position through the first passage control, but lost 11 places on the road when they hit a large stone around 15 kms after the assistance point and broke a rear wheel. They now hold 11th position in the overall standings.

~I hit a stone and we broke the same rear knuckle as we did on the first day,~ said Mayer. ~It was a shame because we were running second on the stage at the time and lost around 25 minutes making repairs.~

Today's stage featured a 332 kms selective, starting on the coast at Foum El Oued. The opening section took place on the beach and passed several shipwrecks en route to the village of Amgriou. The route then headed along the Sebkha Tah depression and passed an old Spanish fort at Al Hagounia.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the final selective section of this year’s Orpi Rally of Morocco and returns teams to the finish near Agadir. There will be two competitive sections; the first 179 kms track heads out of the coastal town of Tan Tan to a finish at Sidi Ifni. The second 60 kms section begins on the beach at Aglou and finishes in Tifnit.

The first stage returns to the Dra wadi and then heads along a cliff-side track to an ancient fort at Aoreora. Several dune complexes and wadi crossings await before the section finishes in Sidi Ifni. The shorter second stage is technical and brings the event to a conclusion in the Tifnit fishing village.

Positions after leg 4 (unofficial at 12.50 hrs):
1.Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 13h 55m 21s
2. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser-Ford DSC12 14h 21m 51s
3. Carlos Sousa (P)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 14h 47m 05s
4. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Bobby Willis (GB) Volkswagen Touareg 14h 51m 53s
5. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 15h 30m 38s
11. Andrea Mayer (D)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up 16h 16m 16s

Positions on SS5 (unofficial at 12.50 hrs):
1. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 3h 18m 14s
2.Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 18m 55s
3. Thierry Magnaldi (F) Honda Buggy 3h 19m 57s
4. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Bobby Willis (GB) Volkswagen Touareg 3h 24m 05s
5. Jean-Francois Guinot (F)/Manfred Kroiss (D) Volkswagen Buggy 3h 24m 38s
6. Phillipe Gache (F)/Jean-Pierre Garcin (F) SMG Buggy OR01 3h 26m 17s


Ralliart Teams

- Housieaux remains fifth overall in Ralliart Pajero/Montero

Dominique Housieaux and his French co-driver Loic Fagot hold fifth in the overall classification with two stages remaining in the Orpi Rally of Morocco on Sunday. They were 10th in today‘ stage.

~It was a nice stage, very fast, but I do not have the speed and the lightweight advantage of the Buggies,~ said Housieaux. ~I had one flat tire and we lost around five minutes with this. The final section of the stage was technical. There was some sand and navigation was important. It is crucial for me to look after my place in the overall classification.~

Spanish team mates José-Luis Monterde and Rafael Tornabell continued the form they showed on the second stage on Friday and hold14th position in the overall stadings after setting the 14th fastest time into Oued Chebika.

~We had no problems today,~ said Monterde. ~It was a varied stage, with stones, fast sections and places where you had to go steadily.~

Positions after leg 4 (unofficial at 12.50 hrs):
5. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 15h 30m 38s
14. José-Luis Monterde (E)/Rafael Tornabell (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 17h 26m 35s

Ends

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Date issued: 05/06/2004

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