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Masuoka fastest and up to fourth in UAE Desert Challenge

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

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

For immediate release
Tuesday, October 12th, 2004

Weather conditions: very hot and sunny - 38-41 C

MASUOKA HOLDS FOURTH POSITION FOR MITSUBISHI MOTORS MOTOR SPORTS IN UAE DESERT CHALLENGE

Peterhansel takes third fastest time in day's stage
Mayer moves into fifth position in Ralliart customer development car
Frenchman Housieaux moves up the leaderboard

MUREEB (UAE) - Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka and German co-driver Andreas Schulz held fourth position in the UAE Desert Challenge, the sixth round of the FIA Cross-Country Rallies World Cup, after the second 371.40 kms selective loop section around the bivouac at Mureeb in the Abu Dhabi emirate, today (Tuesday).

After the fuel pump problems which cost the Japanese a potential stage victory on Monday, he enjoyed a troublefree run through today's shortened section to take the overall fastest time, although he did lose around three minutes in soft sand.

~It was a much better stage for me today,~ said Masuoka. ~We lost a little time in the sand, but the car was perfect. I was able to push and regain some of the time I lost on the first stage. There is still enough time to push for a podium position.~

Team mate Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret were authorised to restart this morning to continue their test and development program for the forthcoming Dakar Rally. They finished in third position on the stage, 3m 16s behind Masuoka.

~We decided to drive hard on the dunes and it was a good decision,~ said Peterhansel. ~No problems with the car today. Everything is fine. It was a good chance for me to push hard and put some more test time in with the revised Mitsubishi.~

German driver Andrea Mayer and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne began the day in 11th position in their Ralliart customer development Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero and moved up to fifth overall.

~I am very happy with the way it all went today,~ said Mayer. ~We had two broken tubes at the front and we changed them at the assistance point to make sure we had the right tire pressure for the dunes. It was a good decision. We passed Colin McRae's Nissan and a Volkswagen. It was a good day for us.~

Today's stage headed west from the Mureeb Hill bivouac and crossed fast sand tracks and sabkha plains, before turning east towards the Shah Oilfield and the pipeline sand road to Tharwaniyah. Cars then skirted the Asab oilfield, a tree plantation and several potentially treacherous sand spits. The final section crossed open desert to a finish on the Ghiathi gatch road, although a two-hour delay because of early morning fog meant that the stage finished at the previous PC.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) the third section heads into the notorious Empty Quarter or Rub Al-Khali, with the 308 kms competitive section beginning at Al-Batin and heading across dune complexes and open desert to a finish in the Mureeb bivouac.

The event draws to a close on Friday, October 15th, at the Dubai International Marine Club, near Dubai.

UAE Desert Challenge - positions on SS2 (unofficial @ 14.45 hrs):

1. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 26m 01s
2. Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Jacky Dubois (F) Nissan Pick-Up 3h 26m 19s
3. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 29m 17s
4. Juha Kankkunen (FIN)/Juha Repo (FIN) Volkswagen Touareg 3h 33m 34s
5. Bruno Saby (F)/Michedl Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 3h 33m 44s
6. Khalifa Al-Mutawei (UAE)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 3h 34m 41s

UAE Desert Challenge - positions after SS2 (unofficial @ 14.45 hrs):

1. Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Jacky Dubois (F) Nissan Pick-Up 6h 49m 23s
2. Khalifa Al-Mutawei (UAE)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 6h 57m 20s
3. Juha Kankkunen (FIN)/Juha Repo (FIN) Volkswagen Touareg 7h 02m 33s
4. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 7h 02m 49s
5. Andrea Mayer (D)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 7h 56m 07s
6. Ahmad Bin Soughat (UAE)/Jassim Ben Ghurab (UAE) Chevrolet Pick-Up 8h 01m 55s
7. Mark Powell (UAE)/Tim Ansell (UAE) Land Rover 8h 19m 00s
8. Janus Naglis (LV)/Alexander Innus (LV) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 8h 26m 01s
9. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 8h 48m 23s

Ralliart Teams

Frenchman Housieaux moves up leaderboard

Frenchman Dominique Housieaux and co-driver Loic Fagot began the stage in 13th position in the first of the Ralliart customer Pajero/Monteros and set a time of 4h 27m 01s, despite the sweltering heat today, to hold ninth place in the unofficial results.

~I feel so tired,~ said Housieaux. ~We had the same problem with the lack of power at higher revs as day one and then we lost maybe 10 minutes in the soft sand in a series of difficult crests and small dunes.~

Spaniard José-Luis Monterde and co-driver Rafael Tornabell kept the Ralliart mechanics working until 07.15 on Tuesday morning to repair the damaged diesel engine in their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero. The pair were given a time penalty for failing to complete the opening selective section.

But the Castellon driver set a time of 4h 09m 20s today, despite admitting that the sand was treacherous in places. ~It was so hot and the sand is like powder, very soft. There were four tracks going straight ahead on the course and one led to a series of very difficult crests where Dominique (Housieaux) was stuck. It was very tricky.~

Chinese newcomer Guan Yuang Men, partnered by French co-driver Serge Henninot, began his first ever desert stage in 42nd position on Monday, but found himself implanted in soft sand after just two kilometers of the opening section. He was then caught out by soft sand on no less than three more occasions before reaching the bivouac late on Monday evening.

~It was very difficult for me on my first time in the sand,~ said Men. ~It was a baptism of fire for me. Two kilometers after the start of the first stage we got stuck for about 20 minutes when another competitor was in the way. We could have made it passed the area of soft sand.

~Before PC1 we got a flat tire, because we were running low tire pressures. One kilometer after PC1 we got twice and lost about 40 minutes. Then we got into a better rhythm, but 20 kms before the finish there were only 40 minutes before we incurred a late time penalty and we got stuck again for two and a half hours just seven kilometers before the finish.~

Positions on SS2 - Ralliart teams (unofficial @ 16.45)
José-Luis Monterde (E)/Rafael Tornabell (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 4h 09m 20s Dominique Housieaux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 4h 27m 01s

Ends

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Date issued: 12/10/2004

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