CC Luc Alphand leads in Tunisia for Mitsubishi Motors Team

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

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

Weather conditions: cold and drizzle (7C at stage start) and cool, bright and windy (17C at stage finish)

Leg 1: Le Kef - Tamerza
Liaison: 5 kms, Special stage 279 kms (shortened by 87 kms) , Liaison 1 km

For immediate release
Tuesday, April 5th, 2005


Frenchman Alphand sets fastest time and leads into Tamerza bivouac;
Japan's Masuoka catches Volkswagen's Saby and holds second

TAMERZA, Tunisia - The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team held first and second positions after the shortened second selective section of the Optic 2000 Rally of Tunisia, today (Tuesday).

Frenchman Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard set the overall fastest time and now hold a 1m 47s outright lead over their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution team mates Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka and French co-driver Pascal Maimon

Alphand began the stage third on the road and finished the varied section in the dust of Frenchman Bruno Saby and Masuoka. The former World Downhill skiier beat the Volkswagen driver by 2m 49s today and leads his nearest non-Mitsubishi by 3m 32s. Masuoka passed Saby on two occasions, only to lose his way and his place on the road.

~We set a good pace today and there was no dust,~ said Alphand. ~Just before the start it was so slippery. We were in second gear, around 30 km/h, sliding around when braking. It was pure mud and very dangerous. I saw Hiroshi in the middle of the stage and we set a good pace, but we lost about 10 seconds with a small navigation mistake. The car is perfect and I really enjoyed today's stage.~

~The beginning of the stage was very muddy and there were some big holes on the inside of the corners,~ said Masuoka. ~It was slippery and dangerous. I was careful, but then the tracks improved and we were okay and able to push. Twice I passed Bruno and then we lost our way and dropped behind again. The weather was very changeable. It was not easy today.~

Adverse weather conditions had affected the mid-Tunisia region when the rally caravan docked in Tunis on Monday afternoon and intermittent rain showers persisted throughout the night at the Le Kef bivouac.

This caused the opening section of the stage to Tamerza to be shortened by 87 kms for the car category, when muddy conditions prevailed on the hilly early sections. Although the bike riders tackled the full stage, the section was later shortened on safety grounds.

~Ten years ago on this rally you could almost be guaranteed warm, sunny conditions in this part of Tunisia and now we have rain,~ said a disbelieving MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys.

Today's selective section was the most varied in the entire route and headed out of the chilly overnight stop in the hills near Le Kef and offered a contrast of crop fields, pasture, desert terrain and slippery mountain tracks. The shortened special route skirted the Algerian frontier and passed under the tourist point at Jugurtha's Table en route to Tamerza.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) the event heads out of the hills around Tamerza and follows a southerly route towards the overnight halt at Sabria, which will host the event for two nights.

After a 19 kms road liaison, the 240 kms stage crosses the expansive Chott of Jerid and heads south of Tozeur and into a tricky dune complex. Teams then cross the vast salt flats again to the bivouac among the dunes in Sabria.

Positions after leg 2 (unofficial @ 13.30 hrs):
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 13m 34s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 15m 21s
3. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 17m 06s
4. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 15m 45s
5. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser-Buggy 2h 17m 53s

Positions on Le Lef to Tamerza stage: (unofficial 13.30)
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2m 09m 23s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 11m 17s
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 11m 27s
4. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 13m 12s
5. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser-Buggy 2h 13m 35s


Copyright free photographs for editorial media only can be downloaded from www.mmsp-media.com and www.mitsubishi-motors.com

For further information please contact Florian Moser, MMSP’s Communications Department:
Adam-Opel-Str. 4
D 65468 Trebur-Astheim
Florian Moser
Telephone +49 (0) 172 6697 578
Telefax +49 (0) 6147-203 599
E-mail f.moser@mitsubishi-motor-sports.com

Date issued: 05/04/2005

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