CC Alphand and Masuoka for Mitsubishi in Tunisia
Optic 2000 Rally of Tunisia
FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, round 2
MITSUBISHI MOTORS REPSOL ATS STUDIOS TEAM ENTERS MASUOKA AND ALPHAND IN RALLY OF TUNISIA
Frenchman Alphand joins Japan’s Masuoka, both in latest Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005
The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team has entered a pair of the latest-specification Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions in the Optic 2000 Rally of Tunisia, round two of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, which takes place in North Africa on April 2nd-11th.
The Mitsubishi Motors team will run a pair of the 2005 Dakar Rally-winning MPR11s for Frenchman Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard and Japan’s Hiroshi Masuoka and French co-driver Pascal Maimon.
Maimon returns to the Mitsubishi Motors fold after several seasons working with a rival team and rekindles a successful working partnership with Masuoka, with whom he won the Dakar Rally in 2002 and finished second overall the previous year.
~This year’s Dakar Rally was a great success for the Mitsubishi team, but a disappointing one for me,~ said Masuoka. ~I aim to get back into winning ways in Tunisia. It is an event I like very much and a good test for the car. There are a lot of dunes and many different types of terrain.~
~We continue to make revisions and improvements to the latest Mitsubishi,~ said MMSP’s Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~We showed in Dakar this year that the Pajero Evolution is still the car to beat, but the opposition proved only a couple of weeks ago in South America that we cannot afford to stand still if we are to remain at the forefront of cross-country rallying.
~Luc and Hiroshi are proven drivers with a lot of experience and I am confident that we can win the Rally of Tunisia for a second successive year. The Patagonia-Atacama Rally was the first defeat for the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution after nine successive victories, so we aim to get back into the winning streak in Tunisia.~
Mitsubishi’s Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret followed up their maiden Dakar Rally success by leading the Rally of Tunisia from start to finish in 2004. Team mate Masuoka was delayed with clutch problems, but the Mitsubishi Motors team won five of the seven selective sections.
Organized by the Neveu-Pelletier Organisation (NPO), the Tunisian round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup is one of the most difficult events in the calendar and takes place over seven timed sections in Tunisia, offering a wide contrast of sand dunes and soft terrain around El Borma in the south and fast gravel stages in mid-country.
The event starts with documentation and scrutineering in Nice on April 1st-2nd, before the entire rally caravan boards a Mediterranean ferry for the sea crossing to Tunis. A road section takes the teams to the first bivouac on April 4th.
Seven subsequent selective sections begin on Tuesday, April 5th in the remote Tunisian deserts to the south, with the event drawing to a close on the holiday island of Djerba on Monday, April 11th after a route of around 3,500 kms.
Both Alphand and Masuoka face competition from the factory Volkswagen Touaregs of Germany’s Jutta Kleinschmidt and Frenchman Bruno Saby, Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser in his new V8-engined Buggy and a host of competitive European privateers.