CC Third and fourth for Mitsubishi teams in Baja Portalegre Prologue
19th Baja Anta Da Serra 500-Portalegre, Portugal
FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 4 of 5 (Baja Greece cancelled)
Weather conditions: cool, drizzly, misty and overcast: 12 - 15 C
MITSUBISHI MOTORS REPSOL TEAM TAKES THIRD AND FOURTH
Frenchman Luc Alphand holds third place in the Portuguese drizzle;
Japanese team mate Hiroshi Masuoka lies in fourth position
PORTALEGRE, Portugal - The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Team held third and fourth positions in the 19th Baja Anta Da Serra 500-Portalegre after the opening seven-kilometer timed Prologue stage, near Portalegre, today (Friday).
Team drivers Luc Alphand and Hiroshi Masuoka, partnered by their respective French co-drivers Gilles Picard and Pascal Maimon, started cautiously in the poor visibility and damp, slippery conditions and finished the section six and nine seconds respectively behind the Prologue-winning Spaniard Carlos Sainz.
~The last time I drove in a rally I ended up on my roof in the Baja Spain,~ said Alphand, ~So I was conscious that I had to make a solid start. It will be useful over the next couple of days to see how much progress has been made by our rivals for the Dakar. But I will not be comparing my times, because I am not placing too much importance on the stage times, as I am not driving the latest version of our car. It was very wet and slippery out there today.~
Japanese team mate Masuoka was fully aware of the slippery nature of today’s twisty and muddy special stage on the outskirts of Portalegre. ~We carried out a small test on some farm tracks, near Portalegre, on Thursday,~ said Masuoka. ~They were incredibly slippery and the weather did not got any better. It has been damp and overcast, so I wanted to start cautiously and not take any risks.~
The timed Prologue stage sprang few surprises among the leaders, although Armindo Araujo - the Mitsubishi Portugal entrant in an L200 Pick-Up – lost time with windscreen wiper problems in the damp conditions.
The Pont-de-Vaux based Mitsubishi team is tackling the fifth round of the FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas as a penultimate shakedown for the Dakar Rally, starting in Lisbon on New Year’s Eve.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is the longest of the three days of the Baja Anta Da Serra 500-Portalegre and includes two timed selective sections, a shorter opening section of 175 kms in length and a longer 220 kms second stage split by a return to the Nerpor service park for service and refuelling.
Positions after Prologue stage:
1. Carlos Sainz (E)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 5m 23.08s
2. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 5m 28.46s
3. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5m 29.47s
4. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5m 32.80s
5. Carlos Sousa (P)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) Nissan Pick-Up 5m 33.89s
6. Rui Sousa (P)/Carlos Silva (P) Nissan Pick-Up 5m 34.08s
7. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 5m 35.32s
8. Mark Miller (USA)/Dirk Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 5m 35.62s
9. Miguel Barbosa (P)/Miguel Ramalho (P) BMW X5 5m 36.29s
10. Mark Blasquez (E)/Ignacio Salvador (E) Nissan Pick-Up 5m 37.27s