CC Mitsubishi holds second fifth and ninth in Dakar Rally

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2005 Dakar Rally
Leg 1: Barcelona - Barcelona
Liaison 27 kms, Special 6 kms, Liaison 17 kms

Weather conditions: cool, bright and sunny - 11C
For immediate release
Friday, December 31st, 2004


Masuoka and Schulz lead Mitsubishi teams in Dakar Rally
Housieaux heads nine-strong Mitsubishi Ralliart customer challenge

BARCELONA, Spain - The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team kick-started its challenge for a record-breaking 10th Dakar Rally success by finishing second, fifth and ninth in the overall standings through the opening six-kilometer special stage on the beach at Castelldefels, west of Barcelona, today (Friday).

At the wheel of the first of three Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR11s, Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka and German co-driver Andreas Schulz completed the section a mere 2.7 seconds behind the early overall leaders Robby Gordon and Dirk von Zitzewitz.

Mitsubishi Motors team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard were fifth and the French duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret were ninth overall.

For the first time in the history of the Dakar Rally, the times from the Prologue stage will not only determine starting order for the second leg, but they will also count towards the overall classification.

A massive New Year's Eve crowd gathered in warm winter sunshine to give the 26th Dakar Rally a festive send-off at the Costa Brava beach village of Castelldefels. Bikes kick-started the action in reverse order, before the leading cars were permitted to start the sandy stage at two-minute intervals.

~I think it is completely different to start the race in Spain,~ said Peterhansel. ~The organization has been perfect here and, of course, we have been lucky with the weather. For me the race starts between Rabat and Agadir in Morocco. My tactic is to stay in contact with the leaders until the first Marathon stage in Mauritania.~

~These stages are always great for the sponsors and the spectators, but not really that important for us unless you have a problem,~ said Masuoka. ~My plan is to push harder when we reach the Marathon stage in Mauritania.~

~It is great for me to be part of such a large professional team,~ said Alphand. ~Now I must repay the team's faith in me with the best performance I can over the next two weeks.~

~I know I have a role as a support driver, but I am relishing the challenge of tackling the Dakar in the L200 Pick-Up,~ said 15th-placed Mayer. ~My co-driver Jean-Michel Polato and I have worked together for several weeks and teamed up at the final shakedown in France before Christmas to make our final preparations for the Dakar.~

Spanish team mate Joan Roma won the event last year on a motorcycle and has been staggered by the response the Spanish public have given him since he joined the Mitsubishi team. He finished the opening stage in 23rd position. ~Everywhere I go there have been well-wishers. The crowd today has been fabulous. It is like a dream for me to start the race in Catalunya.~

Tomorrow (Saturday), the route for the Dakar Rally is made up entirely of a 919 kms road liaison section between Barcelona and Granada, where teams will spend the first evening of 2005.

Positions on SS1 (unofficial @ 16.00 hrs):
1. Robby Gordon (USA)/Dirk Von Zitzwitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 4m 20.2s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4m 22.9s
3. Giniel de Villiers (AFS)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Nissan Pick-Up 4m 23.7s
4. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Perin (F) Volkswagen Touareg 4m 25.8s
5. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4m 28.0s
9. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4m 35.5s
15. Andrea Mayer (D)/Jean-Michel Polato (F) Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up 4m 45.2s
23. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4m 56.9s

Ralliart Teams

ß Housieaux heads nine-strong Mitsubishi Ralliart customer challenge

Nine Mitsubishi Ralliart customer teams tackled the six-kilometer special stage at Castelldefels and Dominique Housieaux and Loic Fagot were the fastest at the wheel of their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero in 22nd position.

China's Guan Yuang Men has undergone intense tuition in China with Mitsubishi's former Dakar Rally winner Jean-Pierre Fontenay since October's UAE Desert Challenge. ~I am feeling a lot more confident now and am looking forward to fulfilling my goal of reaching Dakar,~ said Men, classified 36th at the end of the first stage.

Former European Rally Champion Krzysztof Holowczyc, from Poland, had complained about a noisy engine during the pre-event scrutineering formalities, but completed the special stage in 35th position. Thailand's Siriwattanakun Pornsawan tackled his first stage in the new Mitsubishi Truck Evolution and was classified 50th overall.

New Mitsubishi Ralliart customers Arnold Meier, Toni van Deijne and Alexey Berkut were classified 81st, 70th and 63rd in the overall standings. Francisco Inocencio was badly delayed with engine problems and the Ralliart mechanics were working against the clock to keep him in the rally.

Positions on SS1 (unofficial at 16.00 hrs):
22. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 4m 53.3s
26. Klever Kolberg (BR)/Roldan Lourival (BR) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 4m 59.5s
35. Krzysztof Holowczyc(PL)/Jean-Marc Fortin (B) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 5m 22.3s
36. Guan Yuang Men (CN)/Serge Henninot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 5m 22.9s
50. Siriwattanakun Pornsawan(TH)/Sukahuta Pornthep (TH) Mitsubishi Truck Evolution 5m 34.4s
63. Alexey Berkut (RUS)/Anton Nikolaev (RUS) Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up 5m 48.7s
70. Toni van Deijne (NL)/Francisco Zutven (NL) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 5m 54.1s
81. Arnold Meier (CH)/Sarah Meier (CH) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 6m 09.0s
TBA. Francisco Inocencio (P)/Joao Luz (P) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero


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Date issued: 31/12/2004

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