CC Peterhansel closes on Saby in Patagonia Atacama Rally

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

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

Leg 5: La Serena - Copiapó
Liaison: 30.10 kms, Special: 467.57 kms, Liaison: 22.00 kms

Weather conditions: hot and sunny - 32-35C

For immediate release
Thursday, March 10th, 2005


Mitsubishi's Peterhansel sets fastest time on second Chilean stage
Delays for Spain's Roma on run north into Copiapó

COPIAPO, Chile - Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team driver Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret leapt back into contention for outright victory in the Patagonia-Atacama Rally, by setting the fastest time in the 476 kms selective section from La Serena on the Pacific coast to the remote town of Copiapó to the north, today (Thursday).

This year's Dakar Rally winners began the section 25m 28s behind the leading Volkswagen of Bruno Saby and Michel Périn, but swiftly moved ahead of their rivals as the section headed north towards Copiapó.

At the fourth passage control point in Caldera they were around 18 minutes ahead of Saby and arrived at the stage finish in Puesto Base, high in the sandy wastelands north of Copiapó, 14m 18s in front of Bruno after stopping to deflate their tires. Peterhansel now heads into the final two stages of the rally, 12m 29s behind Saby.

~It was a really interesting special stage with a wide variety of terrain,~ said Peterhansel. ~There were some very large dunes, nothing like Africa. They were like small mountains. The strategy yesterday was to drive with normal tire pressures and we had two punctures, so I stopped today to deflate the tires.

~We passed Bruno at the start of the second section of the stage. He was not on time to take the start and had some problems. You need to follow the track waypoint by waypoint and it was not easy with the road book. When you try and follow the line of a motorbike it is not easy with a car.

~Normally it would be an advantage for me to start first on tomorrow's stage, but this morning I passed Bruno after 100 kms and after 500 meters I lost the correct road again.~

Team mates Joan 'Nani' Roma and Henri Magne began the day in third position on the road and in fourth overall in their Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up. But they were delayed shortly after the first neutralisation point when the car stopped after a river crossing with minor electrical problems. The Pick-Up became stuck shortly afterwards and Roma broke reverse gear trying to extricate the car. The crew affected emergency repairs and continued over an hour behind their team mates.

~The race has a long way to run, but Stéphane has had a couple of racing adventures so far,~ said MMSP's Dominique Serieys. ~We knew that this stage and the one on Friday were going to be the most difficult. It is a long time since our cars crossed hard dunes and we need to be patient.

~Nani had his fair share of problems today. He was stuck and broke reverse gear. But this is all a learning curve for him and valuable experience for his career. I am happy with his performance so far.~

Today's stage began on the beach north of La Serena and offered a stark contrast of terrain, with teams heading north towards the Atacama Desert to a finish in a complex of towering sand dunes, north of Copiapó.

Tomorrow (Friday) is the sixth and penultimate stage of the event between Copiapó and the copper mining town of Antofagasta on the Pacific coast.

A short liaison takes teams to the start of a punishing 629 kms special stage - the longest of the rally - with a pair of liaison sections through the remote Atacama desert, the highest and driest desert in the world. The stage features numerous treacherous dune crossings and soft sand sections.

Overall positions after leg 5 (unofficial @ 16.35 hrs - local time):
1. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 18h 23m 29s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 18h 35m 58s
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 19h 01m 30s
TBA. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up

Overall positions on SS6:
1.Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5h 50m 07s
2. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 6h 04m 25s
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 6h 16m 58s


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D 65468 Trebur-Astheim
Florian Moser
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E-mail f.moser@mitsubishi-motor-sports.com

Date issued: 10/03/2005

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