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Sousa and Mayer lead Morocco challenge

ORPI RALLY OF MOROCCO
FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, round 4

For immediate release
Wednesday, June 4th, 2003

SOUSA AND MAYER LEAD MITSUBISHI'S CHALLENGE IN MOROCCO

Customer Pajeros for Misslin, Komornicki and Monterde

ERFOUD (Morocco): Mitsubishi will be represented by no less than five cars when the Orpi Rally of Morocco, the fourth round of the 2003 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, gets underway in North Africa on Thursday (June 5th).

While factory drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Hiroshi Masuoka and Miki Biasion prepare for a concentrated test session with the new Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution in Morocco in July, Mitsubishi's hopes of winning the five-day race across Morocco lie in the hands of Portugal's Carlos Sousa and Germany's Andrea Mayer, with Frenchman Nicolas Misslin, Poland's Lukasz Komornicki and the Spaniard Jose-Luis Monterde driving a trio of Ralliart customer-built Pajeros.

Fresh from winning this month's Baja Vodafone 1000 in Portugal, Sousa and French co-driver Henri Magne are entered in a Mitsubishi L200 Strakar, again supported by Mitsubishi Motors Portugal. Sousa was third overall in the Italian Baja back in March and will be looking for a top finish to maintain his hopes of winning this year's FIA World Cup Drivers' Championship.

Joining Sousa will be the talented German lady Andrea Mayer and Bavarian co-driver Andreas Schulz, twice a winning co-driver in the prestigious Dakar Rally. Mayer has made a successful switch from enduro riding to four-wheel competition and drove a customer Pajero in Dakar, Italy and Tunisia. Morocco marks her fourth event of the season and she will be hoping to improve on the fifth place she achieved in Tunisia.

Marseilles-based Misslin drives the first of three customer cars and finished third overall in the Optic 2000 Rally of Tunisia at the wheel of the ex-Fontenay Mitsubishi Pajero. He returns to North Africa to challenge for honours with co-driver Jean-Michel Polato. The pair survived a light roll on their last desert outing to take the final podium place and will be hoping to repeat that performance next week.

Komornicki finished fourth overall with Polish co-driver Rafal Marton in Tunisia and he will be joined by Monterde and Spanish co-driver Rafael Tornabell in the final pair of customer Pajeros. Monterde was sixth overall in Tunisia after losing time with fuel feed problems.

~After the Rally of Tunisia the official factory team made the decision to concentrate on the development and improvements to the new Pajero Evolution,~ said Mitsubishi's Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~But, such is the depth of our driver line-up that we are able to field a strong team of customer cars and supported drivers in Morocco.

~Carlos (Sousa) has extensive experience and Nicolas (Misslin) proved in Tunisia that he has the pace and maturity to take a podium placing. I am confident that Andrea, Lukasz and Jose-Luis will also be competitive on this difficult rally.

~I have many fond memories of this race. I competed here for the first time as a co-driver in 1992 and won the race on two occasions with Bruno Saby. For me it is the most enjoyable of all the rallies in the FIA World Cup. The stages are very stony and hard on the cars. It is so very different to Tunisia, but I think that we have a team capable of challenging Nissan and the Buggies for victory.~

Last year's event was won by the defending World Champion Jean-Louis Schlesser in a Buggy, with Mitsubishi Motors team driver Hiroshi Masuoka finishing in second place. Monterde was fourth overall in his customer-built Pajero.

After technical scrutineering and documentation on Wednesday (June 3rd) in Erfoud, the competitive action begins the following morning with a 275 kms competitive loop from Rissani and back to Borg Yerdi, near Erfoud.

The longest stage of the rally will be Friday's 303 kms section between Rissani and Ouled Driss - the first of three overnight bivouacs on this year's event. Saturday's action features a 195 kms selective special to Tissint and a subsequent competitive 133 kms section to Barrage Taghdoute.

Two specials totalling 263 kms on Sunday will bring the Mitsubishi Motors team into the final bivouac at Ouirgane and a final 123 kms stage on Monday, June 9th, will take crews to the finish at Tizguine and then a final 71 kms road liasion brings teams to the finish ramp in Marrakech. In a total route of 1,718 kms, 1,292 kms will be competitive.

Ends

Date issued: 04/06/2003

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