Sousa holds second place in Morocco
ORPI RALLY OF MOROCCO
FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, round 4
For immediate release
Thursday, June 5th, 2003
Leg 1: ERFOUD - ERFOUD (Liaison 24 kms, Special 275 kms, Liaison 16 kms)
SOUSA HOLDS SECOND POSITION
AFTER OPENING STAGE IN MOROCCO
Mayer and Misslin in fourth and fifth places
ERFOUD (Morocco): Portugal's Carlos Sousa and French co-driver Henri Magne held second position in the Orpi Rally of Morocco, after the opening dusty 275 kms stage between Rissani and Borg Yerdi, near Erfoud, today (Thursday).
Driving a Mitsubishi L200 Strakar, the winner of the recent Baja Vodafone 1000 in Portugal now trails early leader and defending World Champion Jean-Louis Schlesser by 4m 48s, prior to the longest section of the rally to Ouled Driss on Friday.
~This is my second visit to the Rally of Morocco,~ said Sousa. ~I came here in 1995 in a T1 Mitsubishi and enjoyed the rally. I have taken part in seven rallies in Africa in my career so far and finished six of them. It is a good record, spoiled only by the accident I sustained in the 2000 Dakar.
~I made a slow start today and maybe gave too much time to Schlesser before the assistance point,~ admitted the Portuguese driver. ~But I found a good pace and a nice rhythm afterwards and had regained some time by the end of the stage.~
Germany's Andrea Mayer, driving as a Mitsubishi Motor Sports-supported driver for the first time in the ex-Masuoka classic Pajero, held fourth overall behind the second Schlesser-Buggy of Spaniard Jose-Marie Servia.
~It was a good stage for me today,~ said Mayer. ~I had one rear puncture, but no serious problems.~
Marseilles-based Frenchman Nicolas Misslin and co-driver Jean-Michel Polato held fifth position in their classic Pajero, but Spaniards Jose-Luis Monterde and Rafael Tornabell lost over 20 minutes with several minor problems and slipped to 10th place behind Polish Ralliart team mates Lukasz Komornicki and Rafal Marton.
~It was one of those mornings,~ said Monterde. ~We had a broken wheel, then a problem with the rear deflation system, a minor turbo fault and then a front flat tyre. In total we lost around 20 minutes to Misslin.~
Today's opening 275 kms stage took place in hot and blustery conditions and was a reverse of the route used in 2002. It crossed the scenic Tafilalet plateau (nicknamed the Sea of Palm Trees by locals), the towering Merzouga dunes and the renowned Erg Chebbi.
Tomorrow's (Friday) second stage is the longest of the rally and takes crews from the overnight halt in Erfoud to the first of the traditional bivouacs at Ouled Driss. The competitive section from Rissani to the bivouac totals 303 kms and initially crosses a mine trail, befors skirting lunar-type landscapes and on to the Algerian border country at the foot of the Nouhaouar plateau and on to the finish through the village of Tissemmoumine.
Unofficial positions after SS1 (top 10 only):
1. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (F) Schlesser-Ford 2h 46m 34s
2. Carlos Sousa (P)/Henri Magne (F) Mitsubishi L200 Strakar 2h 51m 22s
3. Jose-Marie Servia (E)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser-Ford 2h 56m 57s
4. Andrea Mayer (D)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero* 3h 00m 35s
5. Nicolas Misslin (F)/Jean-Michel Polato (F) Mitsubishi Pajero* 3h 02m 32s
6. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thorner (S) Nissan Pick-Up 3h 05m 20s
7. Thierry Magnaldi (F)/Alain Olivier (F) Pro-Truck 3h 08m 59s
8. Yves Loubet (F)/Jacky Dubois (F) Nissan Pick-Up 3h 13m 49s
9. Lukasz Komornicki (PL)/Rafal Marton (PL) Mitsubishi Pajero* 3h 20m 23s
10. Jose-Luis Monterde (E)/Rafael Tornabell (E) Mitsubishi Pajero* 3h 22m 27s