CC Mitsubishi storm into contention for Dakar Rally victory in Atar
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News
2006 Dakar Rally
Weather conditions: warm and sunny with a moderate breeze - 21/24C
Leg 7: Zouérat - Atar
Liaison; 10 kms; Special 499 kms; Liaison 12 kms
For immediate release
Friday, January 6th, 2006
MITSUBISHI'S PETERHANSEL AND ALPHAND STORM INTO CONTENTION FOR DAKAR VICTORY ON STAGE INTO ATAR
Frenchman Peterhansel takes crushing stage win into Atar;
Team mate Alphand moves into overall lead with second fastest time
ATAR, Mauritania - The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team leapt into contention to retain their Dakar Rally title for the sixth successive time, when Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret set the fastest time on the grueling special stage between Zouérat and Atar in Mauritania and team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard moved into the overall lead after setting the second fastest time, today (Friday).
Peterhansel and Cottret, the defending champions, were fastest through the opening passage control and maintained their momentum through the grueling latter part of the first all-desert stage of this year's Dakar to leap from ninth to second overall, 3m 12s behind their team mates. It was on the stage between Zouérat and Tichit, 12 months ago to the very day, that Peterhansel had stamped his authority on proceedings in Mauritania and moved into the outright lead.
~It was a very difficult stage with many sand dunes and some camel grass,~ said Peterhansel. ~The emphasis was on good navigation and not getting stuck. I had a puncture and we lost some time inflating and deflating the tires. It was necessary. But it was a very positive day for us.~
The French pairing of Alphand and Gilles Picard began the day in fifth place and pushed home the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team's supremacy in the desert by moving into the overall lead, 5m 58s ahead of their nearest non-Mitsubishi rival Jutta Kleinschmidt, who held third overall.
~It is nice to be in front at the end of the first real desert stage,~ said Alphand. ~But there is a long way to go. I hurt my neck a little and suffered a strain after a heavy landing, but not too serious. I got stuck four times today in total and think we lost around 15 minutes in the camel grass. But I am very happy to have arrived in Atar at this time without serious problems when there are so many teams still in the desert.~
Team mates Joan 'Nani' Roma and Henri Magne were classified 10th through the first passage control and eventually reached the finish of the stage in sixth place to climb to sixth in the unofficial overall standings.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is the final special stage before Sunday's rest day at the windy coastal city of Nouakchott, Mauritanian's commercial capital. A 34 kms liaison takes crews south-west from Atar to the start of a 508 kms special across western Mauritania. The stage crosses several canyons and wadis and there are numerous fast sections across a variety of track surfaces. The stage finishes by Ouad Naga, 26 kms east of Nouakchott.
Positions on SS7 (unofficial @ 16.30 hrs):
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5h 52m
2. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5h 58m 41s
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 6h 04m 07s
4. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 6h 08m 47s
5. Carlos Sainz (E)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 6h 27m 02s
6. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 6h 33m 01s, etc
Positions after SS7 (unofficial @ 16.30 hrs):
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 22h 32m 41s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 22h 35m 53s
3. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 22h 38m 39s
4. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 22h 42m 45s
5. Carlos Sainz (E)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 23h 01m 22s
6. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 23h 18m 25s, etc
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For further information please contact Florian Moser, MMSP’s Communications Department:
MMSP GmbH, Adam-Opel-Str. 4
D 65468 Trebur-Astheim
Telephone +49 (0) 172 6697 578
or Neil Perkins and Sandy Divelec, On-event Communications, Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team, Tel: + 88 216 511 46540