CC Mitsubishi holds top two places in Dakar Rally
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News
2005 Dakar Rally
Leg 7: Zouerat - Tichit
Liaison : 6 km - Spéciale : 660 km
Weather conditions: warm and windy (sandstorms and poor visibility): 14 to 23C
For immediate release
Thursday, January 6th, 2005
MITSUBISHI HOLDS FIRST AND SECOND PLACES AFTER GRUELLING DAKAR MARATHON STAGE INTO TICHIT
French duo Peterhansel and Alphand holds top two places in Dakar Rally
TICHIT, Mauritania - The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team held first and second positions in the overall standings, after the 660 kms special stage from Zouerat to Tichit in Mauritania today (Thursday).
Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret had climbed nine places on the run into Zouerat and set their second consecutive fastest time on the punishing Marathon stage into Tichit, where winds and shifting sands had made the conditions difficult. Their performance in the adverse weather conditions lifted the defending champions into the outright lead of the rally for the first time in their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution.
~I feel much happier than I did a couple of days ago,~ said Peterhansel, who was still taking aspirin and vitamin C tablets to combat the effects of influenza this morning in the windswept bivouac in Zouerat. ~But I still feel that I can drive much quicker and find a better rhythm.
~The first part of the stage today was very fast, but not too difficult. After the third passage control the average speed was not more than 40 km/h, because of the camel grass and the undulating terrain. I had no flat tires today, we have all four wheels for tomorrow's stage and the car is in good shape. We passed around 150 bikes, but I am lucky I can start first tomorrow.~
Frenchman Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard began the stage a mere 39 seconds behind the overnight leader Bruno Saby in second position. He finished the stage in fourth position to hold second, ahead of Germany's Jutta Kleinschmidt and Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah in the overall standings.
Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka and German co-driver Andreas Schulz were running at the front of the field once again after delays into Smara, but they were forced to stop in the stage today with damage to the front of the car. They were the fifth cars to finish the stage.
Germany's Andrea Mayer and French co-driver Jean-Michel Polato began the day's stage in 17th position in the Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up. ~I took a wrong route into Zouerat yesterday and we lost some time,~ said Mayer, who held 36th position through the second passage control in today's stage.
Spaniard Joan Roma and co-driver Henri Magne were enjoying their first Dakar Rally together in a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR10.
~For me the race started today,~ said Roma. ~The Marathon stage is always critical for the outcome of the race. I feel much more comfortable driving quickly in a car than I did on a bike, where you always felt that a bike was twitchy and could snap sideways at any moment.
~My experience on a bike has been very important. Maybe I have a good feeling for the tracks and the dunes. On a bike you are concerned with the track immediately in front of you, but in a car you need to be careful because you are looking into the distance and you cannot see holes and rocks close to the car.~
MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys was in happier mood. ~It was a much better day for us into Zouerat,, but the next two days will be critical,~ admitted Serieys. ~The plan this morning was for Hiroshi to drive as a rapid assistance for Stéphane and Luc. He started second on the road and his role was to shadow them both to the finish. It is frustrating for him, but this is a team race and the sensible option at this stage.
~There are no mechanics in the bivouac tonight and the cars will go into a parc ferme area. Both Nani Roma and Hiroshi took several extra spare parts with them this morning, in case we needed to work on Stéphane and Luc's cars.~
Tomorrow (Friday) the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team heads in a southerly and then westerly direction to the remote airstrip at Tidjikja, a regular stopover on the Dakar Rally. The 660 kms stage features a run through the notorious Nega Pass and a mixture of camel grass, fast rocky terrain and twisty tracks.
Positions on SS6 (19.05 hrs):
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 8h 21m 57s
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 8h 47m 37s
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 8h 48m 04s
4. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 8h 50m 08s
5, Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 9h 04m 27s
Overall classification after SS6 (19.05 hrs):
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 17h 51m 47s
2. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 18h 13m 19s
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 18h 14m 31s
4. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X5 18h 14m 40s