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CC MMSP and Masuoka confirm UAE Desert Challenge victory

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

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

For immediate release
Friday, October 15th, 2004

Weather conditions: hot and sunny - 33-36 C

MASUOKA CONFIRMS OUTRIGHT VICTORY FOR MITSUBISHI
MOTORS MOTOR SPORTS IN UAE DESERT CHALLENGE

Peterhansel's final flourish lifts him to ninth position;
Frenchman Housieaux finishes sixth in top Ralliart customer car

DUBAI (UAE) - Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka and German co-driver Andreas Schulz confirmed their first victory in the UAE Desert Challenge, the sixth round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, at the DIMC in Dubai, today (Friday).

At the wheel of his Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports Pajero/Montero Evolution, Masuoka emerged victorious by a winning margin of 13m 14s over the Belgian driver Grégoire de Mevius, the early leader of the five-day event across the remote desert extremities of the United Arab Emirates.

~It was a great feeling to cross the finish line,~ said Masuoka. ~I felt the same feeling when I won the Dakar Rally on two occasions. It was a short race, but the stages were very difficult and we did not make the best of starts. I was down in sixth position after the first day. But this sport is so difficult to predict. You can be far behind one day and then on top of the world the next. Now I can look ahead to the Dakar Rally in January in a very confident frame of mind.~

French team mates Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret shadowed Masuoka through the closing stages in the second Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution and reached the finish in ninth position. The twice former UAE Desert Challenge winner also gave the new MPR11 version of the Pajero/Montero Evolution its first stage win on day three.

~This rally has been a very useful test for the team,~ said Peterhansel. ~The new car has been perfect. We received positive feedback from the changes we have introduced. Now I look forward to the Dakar.~

~I am very proud of our whole team and especially pleased for Hiroshi and Andreas in taking their first win here on the UAE Desert Challenge,~ said Isao Torii, the new President of Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports. ~I was particularly impressed with the professionalism of the entire team.~

~We carried out a good test here in Dubai,~ said a delighted MMSP Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~We decided to keep some older components, like the engine, in the cars. We are now sure that we know the life expectancy of the differentials and transmissions in the cars and coming here was invaluable to prove this.

~Stéphane did a good job and drove all the rally without the tire deflation system. We were happy with the performance of the MPR11. It was good to compare with the MPR10. I am delighted for Hiroshi after his accident in Morocco, it was good for him to get back into winning ways. He did not push for the first two days and then he drove hard.

~The strategy of Stéphane opening the road on the final stage worked perfectly and we can look forward to the Dakar. In the last year we have not lost one race with the Evolution and have taken eight victories.~

German driver Andrea Mayer and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne had been running as high as fifth overall before engine problems forced them into retirement after the third leg through the Empty Quarter.

The finishing ceremony took place as planned at the Dubai International Marine Club, near Dubai, on Friday afternoon, after the event was cut short by one day to avoid a clash with the holy month of Ramadan.

UAE Desert Challenge - provisional final positions:

1. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 14h 05m 57s
2. Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Jacky Dubois (F) Nissan Pick-Up 14h 19m 11s
3. Khalifa Al-Mutawei (UAE)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 14h 50m 32s
4. Juha Kankkunen (FIN)/Juha Repo (FIN) Volkswagen Touareg 15h 39m 44s
5. Matthias Kahle (D)/Thomas Schuenemann (D) Buggy 17h 00m 28s
6. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 17h 06m 55s
7. Mark Powell (GB)/Tim Ansell (GB) Land Rover 20h 22m 01s
9. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 21h 56m 19s

2004 FIA Cross-Country World Cup Drivers' Championship - after round 6 of 7 (unofficial):
1. Khalifa Al-Motaiwi (UAE) 122 pts
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (F) 90 pts
3. Carlos Sousa (P) 81 pts
4. Gregoire de Mevius (B) 78 pts
5. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F) 66 pts, etc

Ralliart Teams

Frenchman Housieaux finishes sixth overall in Ralliart customer car

Frenchman Dominique Housieaux and co-driver Loic Fagot finished the UAE Desert Challenge in sixth position in the overall standings and were classified as the first of three Ralliart customer teams. They began the final day in seventh place and benefitted from the problems which befell Mark Powell and Ahmad Bin Soughat on the final stage.

~It was a nice rally,~ said Housieaux. ~I don't think we have ever raced in an event where the temperatures have been so consistently high as here. The heat in the cars was incredible. We had a problem with a persistent misfire at higher revs, but it was a good result for me on difficult stages.~

Spaniards José-Luis Monterde and Rafael Tornabell began the final stage in 25th position after the front differential was repaired by the Ralliart mechanics. The Spaniards were awarded 14h 45m of road penalties on Wednesday and eventually finished 24th overall.

Chinese newcomer Guan Yuang Men and French co-driver Serge Henninot were classified at the rear of the field at the finish in Dubai, after collecting massive time penalties for getting stuck on numerous occasions and stopping to assist Andrea Mayer's stricken Pajero/Montero on day three.

Ends

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Date issued: 15/10/2004

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