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Peterhansel and Masuoka lead MMSP Desert Challenge

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2004 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup
UAE Desert Challenge, round 6

For immediate release
Friday, October 1st, 2004

PETERHANSEL AND MASUOKA TO DRIVE MITSUBISHI MOTORS MOTOR SPORTS TEAM PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTIONS IN UAE DESERT CHALLENGE

Peterhansel looks for hat-trick of UAE Desert Challenge wins
Four Ralliart customer cars head for UAE Desert Challenge

TREBUR-ASTHEIM (Germany) - Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret will be bidding for their third successive victory in the UAE Desert Challenge, when they line up with Japanese team mate Hiroshi Masuoka and his German co-driver Andreas Schulz in a pair of Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports-prepared Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions on the six-day event in the Middle East.

Peterhansel has already won events in Tunisia and Morocco this year and heads for the deserts of the United Arab Emirates on October 10th-15th a mere 11 points behind Dubai's Khalifa Al-Mutawei in the FIA World Cross-Country World Cup Drivers' Championship, of which this is the sixth round of seven.

~Taking part in the 2004 FIA World Cup was never a part of Mitsubishi's original program,~ said Peterhansel. ~But we are still in contention for the title and it would be a major boost to our pre-Dakar preparations to take victory in the Desert Challenge and stay in contention for the World Cup title.

~I always enjoy my time on the Desert Challenge. It is a long and tough event, with many varied stages, which are ideal for our preparations for the Dakar Rally. Dubai is a vibrant city and a great venue for such an event.~

Masuoka's solitary competitive event for the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports Team (MMSP) this season was in the Rally of Tunisia, where he was delayed with clutch problems. Since then the twice former winner of the Dakar Rally has been busy on a test and development program with MMSP and the revised Pajero/Montero Evolution. He heads for the Middle East determined to continue his Dakar Rally preparations with a competitive performance, as he again teams up with Schulz with whom he won the Dakar Rally in 2003.

~We have carried out several valuable test sessions with the team over the summer months and this is yet another step in our development program with the Pajero/Montero Evolution before the Dakar Rally in January,~ said MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys.

The grueling Gulf event joined the FIA World Cup in 1993 and has been extended from five to six sections this year. It has attracted one of the strongest entries ever seen outside of the Dakar Rally arena, with the official Nissan and Volkswagen factory teams also sending their cars to the event for a vital pre-Dakar Rally test session.

Former World Rally Champions Colin McRae and Juha Kankkunen are just two of the drivers who will line-up alongside Peterhansel and Masuoka, VW's Jutta Kleinschmidt and Nissan's Gregoire de Mevius on the opening timed Prologue stage at the Jebel Ali Racecourse, near Dubai, at 4pm on Sunday, October 10th.

From the official start at the Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi the following morning, the event heads south for the first of four competitive selective sections, each of around 340 kms, culminating in night halts at the remote bivouac in Mureeb, south of Liwa, in the Abu Dhabi emirate.

The next three days will see the action unfold in the remote Rub Al Khali or Empty Quarter, before the final leg on Friday, October 15th takes the survivors north to the finish at the Dubai International Marine Club, 30 kms south of Dubai.

2004 FIA Cross-Country World Cup Drivers' Championship - after round 5
1. Khalifa Al-Mutawei (UAE) BMW 101 pts
2. Stephane Peterhansel (F) Mitsubishi 90 pts
3. Carlos Sousa (P) Mitsubishi 81 pts
4. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F) Schlesser-Ford 66 pts
5. Gregoire de Mevius (B) Nissan 45 pts
5. Isabelle Patissier (F) Nissan 45 pts
7. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D) Volkswagen 36 pts
8. Dominique Housieaux (F) Mitsubishi 30 pts
9. Jose-Luis Monterde (E) Mitsubishi 29 pts, etc

Ralliart Teams

Four Ralliart cars head for UAE Desert Challenge

Spaniard Jose-Luis Monterde, Frenchman Dominique Housieaux, German lady driver Andrea Mayer and Thailand's Sukafuta Pornthep will drive a quartet of Mitsubishi Ralliart customer Pajeros/Monteros in the UAE Desert Challenge.

Housieaux currently lies eighth in this year's FIA World Cup and he and co-driver Loic Fagot - like their team mates - will be using the event as a valuable shakedown prior to January's grueling Dakar Rally. Monterde and co-driver Rafael Tornabell lie a single point behind their French team mates in the overall points' standings and drive their usual diesel-engined Pajero/Montero. They finished third overall in July's Baja Spain.

Mayer drove a factory Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up in June's Rally of Morocco and will drive a new short-wheelbase Ralliart-prepared diesel-engined Pajero/Montero in the UAE with Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne. Andrea has competed in the UAE before in the motorcycle category and was fifth overall in 2003 at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero.

~We will test a modified diesel customer car in Dubai,~ said Mayer. ~This car features several improvements from the older specification Mitsubishi and has a sequential transmission and improvements to the engine to cope with higher temperatures. This is the car which Ralliart will use for customers on the Dakar Rally.~

Thai company director Sukafuta Pornthep, from Pathontanee, and French co-driver Serge Henninot drive the long wheelbase Pajero/Montero which was driven by China's Lu Ding in the 2004 Dakar Rally. This will be the first outing for the Thai driver in a Ralliart-prepared car on a round of the FIA World Cup.

Ends

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Date issued: 01/10/2004

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