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CC Roma and Masuoka take Dakar Rally lead for Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2006 Dakar Rally

Weather conditions: cool, bright and sunny - 14/16C

Leg 3: Nador - Er Rachidia
Liaison; 237 kms; Special 314 kms; Liaison 121 kms

For immediate release
Monday, January 2nd, 2006

MITSUBISHI'S ROMA AND MASUOKA HOLD FIRST
AND SECOND PLACES IN 28th DAKAR RALLY

Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team holds 1st, 2nd, 6th and 9th overall
Mitsubishi drivers take 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 11th on first African stage

ER RACHIDIA, Morocco - Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team driver Joan 'Nani' Roma and co-driver Henri Magne set the sixth fastest time in the first African stage of this year's Dakar Rally between Nador and Er Rachidia in Morocco. But they now hold the outright lead in the overall classification, today (Monday).

Capping a successful day for the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team, Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka and French co-driver Pascal Maimon set the second fastest time in another Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution behind French stage winner Jean-Louis Schlesser.

Team mates Stéphane Peterhansel and Luc Alphand completed the stage in third and 11th places and now hold sixth and ninth in the overall classification. Roma and co-driver Henri Magne had begun the day in fourth place, before arriving in Er Rachidia as the overall leaders.

~I am very surprised and happy to be leading~ said Roma. ~I just tried to reach the finish without any mistakes. I had no real problems and I will continue with this strategy tomorrow - just drive and make no mistakes. It is dangerous to push in the dust. At one point there were 10 or 15 bikes together.~

Today's 314 kms stage offered a mixture of twisty gravel tracks, technical off-road sections, the occasional perilous wadi crossing and some navigation. It finished at Beni Tadjite, 121 kms from the overnight bivouac, adjacent to the small elevated airstrip at Er Rachidia.

Masuoka and French co-driver Maimon, with whom he won the Dakar Rally for the first time in 2002, held third overall through the opening passage control at the 122 kms point this morning, but were the first car across the finish line after starting sixth on the road.

~Today there was a lot of dust,~ said Masuoka. ~We drove for about 200 kms with Carlos (Sainz), Luc and (Nasser) Al-Attiyah. Then I overtook Luc, Carlos lost his way a little and I was in second position. Then I overtook Nasser and was first at the end of the stage. There were many motorcycles.~

Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret entered Africa in 10th position in the overall standings and rose to sixth place. ~Today's stage was difficult with the number of bikes and cars running closely together,~ said Peterhansel. ~I kept my distance to avoid the dust and to avoid having any problems in some big holes in the rocky tracks.~

Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard began the first African stage behind the early leader Carlos Sainz, but slipped to ninth in the results after losing time in rivals' dust.

~We let Carlos, Nasser and Hiroshi passed us today and then we were in dust,~ said Alphand. ~If you want to finish the stage safely you need to leave a gap behind the car in front in the dust. It was just like a long train of cars and bikes today. There was no chance to get into a rhythm.~

~We opted for a safe strategy over the first few days in Morocco, but it is very pleasing to be, not only in touch with our rivals, but actually leading the rally with the first two places,~ said Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~'Nani' has really benefited from his recent experience and again proved that we have four drivers who can win the Dakar this year.~

~I told our drivers that Volkswagen are the main rivals, but we should also watch out for Jean-Louis Schlesser and Robbie Gordon and 'Schless' proved the point and was the fastest today. We will maintain our strategy and see what develops. But it was a good day for us.~

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is the longest special stage of the event so far, starting 56 kms from Er Rachidia, north of Erfoud, and finishing 197 kms from Ouarzazate, near the town of Tagounite. The 386 kms special offers a fine balance of twisty and rocky tracks, high-speed roads, laterite piste and stretches of treacherous sand.

Positions on SS3 (unofficial @ 15.30 hrs):
1. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser Buggy 2h 50m 58s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 51m 17s
3. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 51m 35s
4. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 51m 54s
5. Robbie Gordon (USA)/Darrek Skilton (USA) Hummer 2h 52m 28s
6. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 52m 32s
7. Mark Miller (USA)/Dirk Van Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 53m 12s
8. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 53m 18s
9. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 53m 26s
10. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X3 CC 2h 54m 34s
11. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 57m 26s
12. Carlos Sainz (E)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 57m 42s

Positions after SS3 (unofficial @ 15.30 hrs):
1. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5h 27m 34s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5h 27m 40s
3. Bruno Saby (F)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 5h 28m 28s
4. Carlos Sainz (E)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 5h 28m 30s
5. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 5h 28m 31s
6. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5h 29m 10s
7. Mark Miller (USA)/Dirk Van Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 5h 30m 52s
8. Robbie Gordon (USA)/Darrek Skilton (USA) Hummer 5h 31m 45s
9. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5h 31m 59s
10. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser Buggy 5h 32m 00s
11. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X3 CC 5h 32m 04s
12. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 5h 32m 07s

Ends

Copyright free photographs, driver profiles and pre-event driver interviews for editorial media only can be downloaded from www.mmsp-media.com

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

or Neil Perkins and Sandy Divelec, On-event Communications, Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team, Tel: + 88 216 511 46540



Date issued: 02/01/2006

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