CC Mitsubishi holds first and second places on Dakar rest day

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2005 Dakar Rally
Leg 8 - Tidjikja - Atar
Liaison: 3 kms, Spéciale : 361 km, Liaison: 35 kms

Weather conditions: warm, humid, windy and overcast - 20-25C

For immediate release
Saturday, January 8th, 2005


Mitsubishi's Luc Alphand takes fastest time into Atar rest day
Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel leads Dakar Rally by 20 minutes

ATAR, Mauritania - The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team enjoyed a successful eighth stage of the Dakar Rally between Tidjikja and Atar in Mauritania on Saturday.

Team drivers Luc Alphand, Stéphane Peterhansel and Hiroshi Masuoka completed the 361 kms special in first, second and fifth positions, with Peterhansel and Alphand consolidating their first and second places in the overall standings.

Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard took their first fastest time of the race and their first as a partnership in the Mitsubishi Motors team. The former World Downhill skiing champion beat his team mate by 1m 31s.

~We tried to maintain a reasonable pace and had a flat tire,~ said Alphand. ~Then we stopped to deflate the tires for the dunes and had a second puncture. Maybe the tire pressure was too low. But I am delighted to take my first stage win with the Mitsubishi and it leaves me in a good position for the final week of the race.

~I don't feel any pressure at the moment. Stéphane is very strong and is driving well. Everyone wants to win this race, but we have overcome some problems this week and will restart on Monday in a very strong position.~

Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret took the second fastest time in their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution. The defending champion will take a 20-minute outright lead into Monday's tricky Atar loop stage.

~I feel much better than I did a couple of days ago,~ said Peterhansel. ~The stage was not easy today. There were some large dune fields and the navigation was difficult.~

Japan's Masuoka and German co-driver Andreas Schulz arrived at the stage finish, near Atar, with the fifth fastest time. ~We had two flat tires today and were forced to change the left rear twice,~ said Masuoka, who held ninth overall at the start of the day in the third Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution and moved up to sixth overall.

Germany's Andrea Mayer and French co-driver Jean-Michel Polato set the ninth fastest time into the Atar bivouac and moved up to 11th overall in their Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up.

~One hundred kilometers in front of PC1, I saw Nani stuck in the wall of a sand dune and we towed him out and got stuck ourselves for a short time,~ said Mayer. ~After that we saw that he put air in his tires and he overtook us and moved ahead. In the next dune field we thought he had already arrived, but he hadn't and then we got lost ourselves for around 10 minutes.~

Spaniard Joan Roma and co-driver Henri Magne began the stage in sixth position in the overall standings, but were forced to wait for the assistance truck after getting stuck on the run into Atar.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the traditional rest day on this year's Dakar Rally, where teams are able to give a thorough overhaul to all the surviving cars in the race. A large number of VIPs, guests and media arrived this afternoon from Europe to give the depleted bivouac a chaotic feel to it.

Special stage times - SS8:
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 52m 39s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4h 54m 10s
3. Robby Gordon (USA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 5h 10m 08s
4. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 5h 11m 52s
5. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero 5h 16m 29s

Overall classification after SS8:
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 22h 45m 57s
2. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 23h 05m 58s
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 23h 26m 23s
4. Carlos Sousa (P)/Thierry Delli-Zotti (F) Nissan Pick-Up 25h 25m 16s
5. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Nissan Pick-Up 25h 48m 59s
6. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero 26h 38m 16s
7. Stephane Henrard (B)/Antonia de Roissard (B) Volkswagen Buggy 26h 41m 58s
11. Andrea Mayer (D)/Jean-Michel Polato (F) Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up 30h 57m 26s
TBA. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magner (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero

Ralliart Teams

Five Ralliart teams make it to stage start in Tidjikja
Dutchman Van Deijne leads Mitsubishi Ralliart crews

Dutchman Toni van Deijne co-driver Francisco van Deijne led the Mitsubishi Ralliart teams into the stage between Tidjikja and Atar in 35th position. Brazilians Klever Kolberg and Rouldan Lourival started the day in 56th overall.

Poland's Krzysztof Holowczyc and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin spent no less than 15 hours stranded a mere 20 kms from the stage finish in Tichit on Thursday evening and arrived in Tichit at 16.00 hrs on Friday afternoon. He was awarded a nine-hour time penalty and permitted to continue in the race.

~I arrived from hell,~ said a shattered Pole. ~We were just stuck there, so helpless, with no fuel. I put a sign in the side of the car, saying 'one liter of fuel wanted, $100!'. It was desperate. We could not sleep properly in the night. I managed maybe to get 90 minutes sleeping against the steering wheel.~

Russian Alexey Berkut and Frenchman Dominique Housieaux also managed to reach the Tichit bivouac the following afternoon and retook their places at the start of today's stage into Atar, alongside Kolberg and Van Deijne.

~It is a big relief to get through the last two days,~ said Ralliart team manager Jürgen Masal. ~The drivers we have left in the race are doing a great job and, now that we can spend a whole day working on those cars in Atar, I am confident that they can all reach Dakar. Toni has driven very well and Dominique, Klever and Krzysztof are all capable of setting good stage times next week. I feel much happier than I did two days ago.~


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Date issued: 08/01/2005

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