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CC Peterhansel fastest on final Argentina stage of Patagonia Atacama Rally

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

8th Patagonia-Atacama Rally
FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, round 1

Leg 3: San Rafael - Santiago de Chile
Liaison: 88.47 kms, Special 1: 162.64 kms, Liaison: 140.73 kms, Special 2: 81.09 kms (cancelled): Liaison: 239.70 kms, Special 3: 2.1 kms.

Weather conditions: cool, dry and overcast - 12-14C
For immediate release
Tuesday, March 8th, 2005

PETERHANSEL SETS FASTEST STAGE TIME IN PATAGONIA-ATACAMA RALLY FOR MITSUBISHI MOTORS TEAM

Mitsubishi's Peterhansel closes gap on leader Saby
Spaniard Roma maintains solid fourth position into Chile

SANTIAGO DE CHILE, Chile - The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team driver Stéphane Peterhansel and his French co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret set the fastest time in the third timed stage of the Patagonia-Atacama Rally between San Rafael in the Argentinean Province of Mendoza and Santiago de Chile today (Tuesday).

They had begun the day 22m 36s behind the leaders Bruno Saby and Michel Périn, after losing time with an accident across the vast wastelands of Mendoza on Monday. But, despite getting stuck in the dust behind the Volkswagen of Jutta Kleinschmidt for over 50 kms, Peterhansel still managed to reduce the leader's advantage by 32 seconds.

~I stayed behind Jutta for 50 kms today and it was so frustrating,~ said Peterhansel. ~After about 30 kms we caught Nani (Roma) and he stopped to let us go on. I tried to push to catch Jutta, but it was a very fast track and it was not possible to get passed her in the thick dust. I lost around one minute at the end of the stage.~

Team mates Joan Roma and Henri Magne set the fourth fastest time to maintain a similar position in the overall standings, after stopping to allow their team mate past on the stage.

~Stéphane is faster than me and he has a chance to win the race, so I stopped for him,~ said Roma. ~It was a very fast stage. The engine in our car was working hard. I was on full gas for most of the stage. It was a mixture of flat sections and some twisty, flowing roads like a WRC track.~

The Mitsubishi mechanics had replaced a damaged windscreen and repaired the power steering on Peterhansel's Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution at the service point in the center of San Rafael on Monday evening, where overcast weather and a freak rain shower hampered working conditions.

Teams were scheduled to tackle a 2,1 kms timed super special in Santiago late on Tuesday evening, although the organisers had reached the decision to cancel the second of the day's three selective sections, near Mendoza, to reduce the risk of delays for teams on the frontier between Argentina and Chile.

~It is disappointing that the organisers cancelled the second stage in the mountains,~ admitted Peterhansel. ~It would have been a good opportunity to push again and take a few minutes. Now I have to wait until we get to Chile and attack on Wednesday.~

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the fourth leg of the opening round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup between Santiago and La Serena in Chile. In a total route of 654 kms, the selective section between Canela Baja and Punitaqui will run for 211.95 kms over technical driver's stages amid spectacular scenery.

Overall positions after leg 3 (unofficial @ 10.15 hrs - local time):
1. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 9h 09m 59s
2. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 9h 26m 49s
3. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 9h 32m 03s
4. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 9h 43m 41s

Overall positions on SS3 (unofficial @ 10.15 hrs - local time):
1.Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1h 22m 59s
2. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 1h 23m 31s
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 1h 26m 28s
4.Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1h 27m 59s

Ends

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Date issued: 08/03/2005

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