MMSP stars hold joint third position in UAE Desert Challenge Prologue

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

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

For immediate release
Sunday, October 10th, 2004

Weather conditions: hot and sunny 35-40 C


MMSP duo six seconds behind leader Saby;
Frenchman Housieaux leads four Ralliart customer teams

DUBAI (UAE) - Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel and Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka held joint third positions after the opening 2.4 kms timed Prologue stage of the UAE Desert Challenge at the Jebel Ali Racecourse, near Dubai, today (Sunday).

Bidding to clinch his third successive victory in the UAE Desert Challenge with French co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret, Peterhansel tied with his team mate on a time of 2m 38s, a mere six seconds behind the Prologue winner Bruno Saby, from France. Scotland's Colin McRae finished second overall in the punishing heat of a Middle Eastern afternoon.

~The team carried out 10,000 kms of testing with the new car in Morocco this summer and it has been one or two seconds per kilometer quicker since the revisions,~ said Peterhansel, who won both the Tunisian and Moroccan rounds of the series this year and lies in second position in the FIA World Cup.

~Now this is our opportunity to put that hard work to the test in a competitive environment over terrain that we are ljkely to encounter in January. Visually it is difficult to tell any differences, but they are quite noticeable behind the wheel. It would be nice to win this week, but the goal is to ensure that we carry out a good test of the new car before the Dakar.~

Masuoka and German co-driver Andreas Schulz kick-started their challenge for success by finishing on the same time as Peterhansel on a very tricky Prologue stage, which saw more than seven cars stuck for a short time in deep sand.

~We have carried out several subtle developments with the Pajero/Montero Evolution,~ said MMSP’s Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~Hiroshi is driving the MPR10 version here in Dubai and Stéphane will be able to compare the new MPR11 with the former car. There will be no tire deflation systems allowed in the Dakar Rally, so Stéphane's car does not have this facility. We have also worked on a tubular-frame design, better weight distribution, revised suspension settings and a lower center of gravity.~

Tomorrow (Monday) the main event gets underway with a ceremonial start at the Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi, before the opening 351 kms timed selective section kicks off at Al-Hamrah and winds its way through the remote sand flats and desert plains of the Abu Dhabi emirate en route to the new bivouac site at Thal Mureeb, south of the former base camp in Liwa.

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, near Dubai.

UAE Desert Challenge - positions after Prologue stage (unofficial @ 18.15):

1. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Perin (F) Volkswagen Touareg 2m 32s
2. Colin McRae (GB)/Tina Thorner (S) Nissan Pick-Up 2m 34s
3. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2m 38s
4. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2m 38s
5. Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Jacky Dubois (B) Nissan Pick-Up 2m 40s
6. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 2m 44s
7. Juha Kankkunen (FIN)/Juha Repo (FIN) Volkswagen Touareg 2m 47s

Ralliart Teams

Frenchman Housieaux leads four Ralliart customer teams

Frenchman Dominique Housieaux and co-driver Loic Fagot led the four Ralliart customer Pajero/Monteros through the opening Prologue stage, with a time of 2m 47s.

German lady driver Andrea Mayer and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne were a mere four seconds behind their team mates in her customer development car.

Spaniard's José-Luis Monterde and co-driver Rafael Tornabell
lost a minute on the Prologue stage after crashing into the Nissan of Issabelle Patissier, which was stuck in soft sand across the stage and blocking the track.

Chinese newcomer Guan Yuang Men and French co-driver Serge Henninot will start the opening desert stage from the rear of the field after dropping over four minutes in soft sand on the Chinese driver;s desert debut.

~Andrea is driving a potential new customer version of the Pajero/Montero to evaluate several improvements we hope to introduce on the Dakar Rally,~ said Ralliart team manager Jurgen Masal. ~The car is fitted with a new sequential transmission and other improvements.~

Positions after Prologue stage - Ralliart teams (unofficial @ 18.15)
Dominique Housieaux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2m 47s
Andrea Mayer (D)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2m 51s
José-Luis Monterde (E)/Rafael Tornabelll (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 3m 31s
Guan Yuang Men (CN)/Serge Henninot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 7m 41s


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Date issued: 10/10/2004

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