CC Luc Alphand wins Rally of Tunisia for Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News
Optic 2000 Rally of Tunisia
FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, round 2
Weather conditions: cool, sunny and windy - 17 C
Leg 8: Djerba - Djerba
Liaison: 91 kms, Special stage 264 kms, Liaison 37 kms
For immediate release
Monday, April 11th, 2005
MITSUBISHI MOTORS REPSOL ATS STUDIOS TEAM DRIVER LUC ALPHAND TAKES MAIDEN RALLY OF TUNISIA WIN
Frenchman Alphand takes maiden victory in Mitsubishi Motors team;
Japan's Masuoka sets fastest time and finishes third overall
DJERBA, Tunisia - Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team driver Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard finished third overall through the final Djerba loop stage of the Optic 2000 Rally of Tunisia today (Monday). But the result was sufficient to give the pair a maiden outright victory together and a first FIA World Cup success for Alphand on only his second event in the Mitsubishi team.
The former World Downhill Skiing Champion, who joined the Mitsubishi team in time to finish second overall in January's Dakar Rally, began the final selective section 15m 29s ahead of Volkswagen's Bruno Saby and Michel Périn.
After winning the penultimate stage he was first into the stage this morning and had already decided to err on the side of caution over the closing kilometers. He recorded an eventual winning margin of 11m 40s
~It is a great feeling to win,~ said Alphand. ~I feel a great release today. There has been a lot of pressure for two days. You know the win is possible, but until you cross the line anything can happen. I tried to drive a safe stage.
~Bruno was behind us over the closing kilometers and he was so nervous. I stayed two days behind him on the Dakar and also behind Jutta Kleinschmidt in Tichit, so I know it must be frustrating. But I was not going to push myself over the last few kilometers.
~It is a different feeling to winning in skiing. Those are powerful moments over two minutes. Here it is a team effort and I am sure it will take a few hours to sink in that we did a great job this week. I am pleased for everyone associated with the team.~
Japanese team mate Hiroshi Masuoka and French co-driver Pascal Maimon began the final section 2m 48s behind Saby's Volkswagen and the 2002 Dakar Rally-winning pairing pledged to try and overhaul the French duo and claim a Mitsubishi one-two on the podium.
Masuoka passed Sergey Schmakov's Buggy and Jutta Kleinschmidt's Volkswagen, but was unable to regain the lost time and settled for third place, 1m 15s behind his rival.
~I drove hard today, but I could not get back three minutes,~ said Masuoka. ~It is not too bad. We have a podium place and Pascal and I are now on a better level. Now we must work hard together on the two Morocco tests, maybe another event in September and prepare for the Dakar again next year.~
~This is a first win for Luc and it is a perfect day for the whole team,~ said MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~We are working in a smooth way and progressing well towards the goal of staying ahead of our rivals.~
Today's stage was the final timed section on the event and headed south of Djerba towards the Libyan frontier before retracing around 70 kms of Sunday's stage. The latter section crossed a chott and the finish was on the beach off the road to Medenine, south of Djerba.
The next round of the 2005 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup will be the NPO-organized Orpi Rally of Morocco at the end of May.
Positions after final leg 8 (unofficial @ 12.10 hrs):
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 19h 00m 55s
2. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 19h 12m 35s
3. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 19h 13m 50s
4. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 19h 24m 32s
5. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser-Buggy 19h 31m 35s
Positions on Djerba - Djerba stage: (unofficial @ 12.10 hrs)
1. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 19m 33s
2. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 21m 06s
3. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2m 24m 55s
4. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 26m 36s
5. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser-Buggy 2h 27m 05s
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For further information please contact Florian Moser, MMSP’s Communications Department:
D 65468 Trebur-Astheim
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