CC Mitsubishi prepares for start of Patagonia Atacama Rally
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News
8th Patagonia-Atacama Rally
FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, round 1
Weather conditions: warm, windy and sunny - 20-22C
For immediate release
Friday, March 4th, 2005
MITSUBISHI MOTORS REPSOL ATS STUDIOS TEAM
PREPARES FOR START OF PATAGONIA-ATACAMA RALLY
Mitsubishi team members arrive in San Carlos de Bariloche
Peterhansel and Roma enjoy first visit to South America
SAN CARLOS DE BARILOCHE (Argentina); The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team is making its final preparations for the start of the Patagonia-Atacama Rally, with the first competitive selective section set to start from the scenic Patagonian tourist town on Sunday morning.
The first round of the 2005 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup has attracted a strong international field and the Mitsubishi team arrived in two groups from Europe on Wednesday and Thursday, after nearly 24 hours of travel.
The French duo of Dakar Rally winners Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret will drive a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution, while Spaniard Joan Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne wheel out a Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up.
~It is my first time in Argentina and the first time in this race,~ said Peterhansel, after an evening enjoying traditional Patagonian hospitality at the end of the summer tourist season in southern Argentina.
~On the way from Buenos Aires I was looking out of the window of the 'plane at the spectacular scenery. It was not what I had visualised. The mountains, the lakes, with vast open spaces were stunning. I am sure that this race will be a bigger test than an African rally and I am so looking forward to the start.~
Team mate Roma tested the Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up at Le Creuset in France two weeks' ago and is also visiting Latin America for the first time. ~It is a fantastic feeling to spend nearly one day on a plane and then arrive in a country where people greet you in the Spanish language,~ enthused Roma.
~I have never been to South America before, but the people have been so friendly. In Argentina and Chile they are interested in motorsport and understand what we are doing. My former motorcycle team mate Carlo de Gavardo is a huge star in Chile. This will be a long and difficult race, with some WRC-type stages, twisty mountain roads, fast piste and even very soft dunes in the Atacama desert. It promises to have everything.~
Roma's co-driver Magne has tackled the Por Las Pampas Rally on several occasions and has experience of South America. ~I think it is a fantastic place to come for a rally,~ said Magne.
~I came here twice with Jean-Louis Schlesser in 1999 and 2000 and also with Carlos Sousa and Josep-Marie Servia. All those rallies were based in Argentina, but I am looking forward to going to Chile. I know from previous experience that the sand dunes in the region are unique.
~They are often made up of larger pieces of gravel and can have grass growing from them. But they are treacherously soft. You need to have your wits about you. This race has everything. I cannot explain the feeling of awe you have when you see the Andes mountain range for the first time and witness the spectacular scenery. It is a great place to race.~
Cars will be flagged away from the traditional start in San Carlos de Bariloche at 22.00 hrs (local time) on Saturday evening, although the first competitive section between the lakeside town and the more northerly city of General Roca, in the Province of Rio Negro, takes place on Sunday.
After a 224.71 kms road liaison the selective section starts at Piedra del Aguila and crosses a dried river bed, several hard-surfaced tracks, potentially dusty areas and rocky river beds to a finish 144 kms from General Roca. The stage takes place between 300 metres and 800 metres above sea level, although heavy recent rain in the region should have eliminated potentially dusty conditions.
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