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CC Masuoka holds second place in Rally of Tunisia Prologue stage

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

Optic 2000 Rally of Tunisia
FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, round 2

Weather conditions: dry and sunny - 19 C
Prologue stage: Liaison: 42 kms, Special stage 4 kms, Liaison 21 kms

For immediate release
Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

MITSUBISHI MOTORS REPSOL ATS STUDIOS TEAM HOLDS SECOND AND THIRD POSITIONS AFTER RALLY OF TUNISIA PROLOGUE STAGE

Japan's Masuoka second fastest through Levens stage
Frenchman Luc Alphand spins and holds third place

LEVENS, France - The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team held second and third positions after the opening four-kilometer timed Prologue stage of the Optic 2000 Rally of Tunisia, held on a twisty gravel stage in the hills, north of Nice, today (Sunday).

A sizeable crowd gathered in the foothills of the Maritime Alps to witness the start of the second round of the 2005 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup. Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka and French co-driver Pascal Maimon set the second fastest time in their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution, nine seconds behind the French stage winners Bruno Saby and Michel Périn.

~This is an important rally for Pascal and myself,~ said Masuoka. ~We have not competed together since we won the Dakar Rally in 2002 and we need to settle into a routine as soon as we can. I drove quite hard without taking risks. The stage was slippery and quite dangerous in places if you pushed too hard into a corner.

~Since the Dakar Rally this is my first race of the year and it is important that I make no mistakes and reach the finish. That is the goal.~

Frenchman Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard - the runners-up in this year's Dakar Rally - were third quickest in the second Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution, after spinning their car on the final corner of the stage.

~I was driving well and taking no risks and then we had this little scare on the last corner of the stage,~ said Alphand. ~We oversteered a little too wide into the corner and the car spun to a stop in front of a tree. It took a few seconds to select reverse gear and that is where we lost the time.~

The Mitsubishi Motors team is using this event, along with several test sessions throughout the summer months to further improve the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution, which remains unbeaten on the Dakar Rally since its introduction in 2003 and won nine successive international events.

~We continue to develop the latest Mitsubishi Evolution to stay ahead of the chasing pack in terms of competiveness,~ said Team Engineer Bernard Lindauer, celebrating his 47th birthday yesterday.

On Sunday evening the entire rally caravan boarded the Daniele Casanova ferry for the overnight voyage from Nice to Tunis. The remainder of Monday will be spent on the 207 kms liaison section between the ferry port and the first overnight halt at Le Kef, south of the capital, before the event gets underway in earnest on Tuesday,

The seven-day rally draws to a close on the holiday island of Djerba on Monday, April 11th after a total of 2,017 kms of selective sections in a route of 2,779 kms.

Positions after Prologue stage (unofficial @ 12.00 hrs):
1. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 3m 54.30s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4m 03.80s
3. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 4m 11.25s
4. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser-Buggy 4m 17.76s
5. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 4m 17.80s
6. Phillipe Gache (F)/Jean-Pierre Garcin (F) SMG Buggy 4m 18.12s

Ends

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Florian Moser
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E-mail f.moser@mitsubishi-motor-sports.com


Date issued: 03/04/2005

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