CC Peterhansel takes fastest Dakar time into Zouerat

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2005 Dakar Rally
Leg 6: Smara - Zouerat
Liaison : 121 km - Spéciale : 492 km – Liaison : 9 km

Weather conditions:
For immediate release
Wednesday, January 5th, 2005


Frenchman Alphand moves into second place overall in Dakar Rally
Mitsubishi Ralliart's Housieaux leaps into overall top 20 in Zouerat

ZOUERAT, Mauritania - The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team moved back into contention for victory in the 26th Dakar Rally by setting the first, second and fourth fastest times through the 492 kms special stage in the north-west of Mauritania today (Wednesday).

Frenchman Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard moved up to second place in the Dakar Rally, after setting the fourth fastest time today, behind Peterhansel and Frenchman Bruno Saby.

Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret held third position through the second passage control into Zouerat after starting the day in 14th overall and set the overall fastest time to move back up to fifth overall.

The defending Dakar champion began today's stage still suffering from the effects of influenza and was forced to borrow a wheel off team mate Joan Roma before the start of the special stage.

~This was one of the fastest stages ever on the Dakar,~ said Peterhansel. ~I had one rear right flat tire, but I feel much better now and am looking forward to the rest of the race.~

~I had three Volkswagens in front of me on the stage into Smara,~ said Alphand. ~It is not worth the risk to overtake them on narrow tracks when there is such a long way to go. I saved my car through Morocco so we are in good shape for the next few days. I would have been happy with my current position if you had given me this in Spain, but I feel disappointed for Hiroshi. He has lost a lot of time and we must work as a team in the next days.~

Japanese team mate Hiroshi Masuoka put yesterday's major set-back to the back of his mind by taking the second fastest time today.

~It was our mistake yesterday,~ said Masuoka's co-driver Andreas Schulz. ~We were going quickly in the dust and there was a big hole in the road. The car crashed into the hole and we broke the wishbone. Andrea stopped to see if she could help, but she does not have the spares we needed on the Pick-Up and we eventually lost three hours.~ The crew began today's stage in 124th overall and promised to push hard to regain some lost time.

Andrea Mayer and Jean-Michel Polato now hold 17th in the overall standings. ~I haven't really had a good clear run through a stage yet,~ said Mayer. ~We stopped for four minutes when Hiroshi had his problems in Tuesday and then several slower cars caugt us up and we were held up in the dust. I do not know the limit of the car at the moment. Maybe I was driving a little too carefully at the start.~

Team mates Joan Roma and Henri Magne finished the day's stage in 16th position. They began the day in 17th and leapt to 14th overall.

~It was not a good day for us yesterday,~ admitted Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~But that is the Dakar. It would have been better if we were first, second and third, but Hiroshi made a mistake. When we left Agadir I asked him to drive slowly and take care in the dust. Stéphane has been suffering with the 'flu and Luc was blocked in the dust behind Jutta Kleinschmidt's Volkswagen on the run into Smara for 250 kms.

~We still have a lot of time to get back into contention for the victory. We will see on Saturday night what the situation is. For me the key will be Friday and Saturday. It is not a small gap to close, but it is possible. We also had some minor Kinetic suspension problems. Now we will change the strategy for Hiroshi. He will become a really fast service car and provide good support for Luc and Stéphane.~

Tomorrow (Thursday) is the most difficult stage of the event so far, a 660 kms Marathon section from Zouerat to the remote oasis at Tichit. The section passes through the El-Ghallaouiya Pass, crosses a complex of small dunes at El Mrayer and is followed by several hundred kilometers of camel grass and fast, rutted tracks.

Positions on SS5:
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 00m 29s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 06m 27s
3. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 4h 07m 55s
4. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 09m 46s
5. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser-Ford 4h 11m 36s
6. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 4h 12m 02s

Overall classification after SS5:
1. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 9h 22m 31s
2. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 9h 23m 11s
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 9h 26m 27s
4. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 9 h 27m 03s
5. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 9h 29m 50s
14. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 10h 12m 53s
17. Andrea Mayer (D)/Jean-Michel Polato (F) Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up 10h 31m 12s

Ralliart Teams

Frenchman Housieaux leaps into overall top 20 into Zouerat

The French duo of Dominique Housieaux and Loic Fagot led the Ralliart teams across the border into the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in 20th place and were classified 15th overall at the end of the day.

~It was a tremendously fast stage, but several of the top cars had problems and we benefitted from this,~ said the Frenchman.

Brazilian team mates Klever Kolberg and Rouldan Lourival began the day in 21st overall in their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero and set the 18th fastest time.

~It was quite difficult on the liaison today,~ said Kolberg. ~There were a lot of rocks and you had to be careful even before the stage. The wind was also a problem. It was moving the sand and I had to look 500 meters ahead of the car, rather than at the road ahead where there could have been rocks. We passed some small dunes as well. They were not a problem, but you are never sure how difficult they will be.~

Krzysztof Holowczyc and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin crash-landed their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero and lost a lot of oil after PC3 on the stage into Smara. The Pole was forced to stop on three occasions to top up the engine.

~I was concerned about the engine. We ran for five kilometers with no oil,~ said the Pole. ~You can change a gearbox and the suspension, but if the engine goes that is it. I found it difficult to keep my concentration on the long stage. It was the longest of my life and now today's stage was even longer!~

Chinese driver Guan Yuang Men began the first Mauritania stage in 40th position with French co-driver Serge Henninot. ~We had a flat tire and a small mecanical problem yesterday, but I am delighted to be running so far up the field at this stage. Serge and I are getting on well and I am learning all the time.~

Overall positions after SS5:
15. Dominique Housieaux (F)/Loic Fagot (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 10h 26m 31s
16. Klever Kolberg (BR)/Roldan Lourival (BR) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 10h 29m 04s


Date issued: 05/01/2005

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