CC Mitsubishi team presses home its advantage into Nouakchott rest day

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2006 Dakar Rally

Weather conditions: warm and sunny with a gusting wind - 18-23C
Leg 8: Atar - Nouakchott
Liaison; 34 kms; Special 508 kms; Liaison 26 kms

For immediate release
Saturday, January 7th, 2006


New overall leader Peterhansel stays on track for second title defence;
Frenchman Luc Alphand falls behind Mitsubishi team mate into rest day;
Spaniard Roma completes superb day for Mitsubishi with fourth fastest time

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania - The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team remained firmly on course to defend its Dakar Rally title after the punishing eighth 508 kms special stage between Atar and Nouakchott in Mauritania, today (Saturday).

Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret began the longest stage of the event so far, a mere 3m 43s behind French team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard in the overall standings and the pair were evenly matched to the first passage control at 165 kms, with Alphand holding a slender 20 second advantage.

Through a tricky sea of dunes and engulfing sand to the second passage control at the 371 kms point, both Mitsubishis struggled in dunes at around 240 kms, but regained the piste, only for Alphand to fall behind Peterhansel in subsequent sand dunes at the 285 kms point.

Peterhansel and Cottret duly arrived at the stage finish with a 3m 44s advantage over their colleagues and will take a 32 second overall lead into the fourth and final Mauritanian stage between Nouakchott and Kiffa on Monday.

Their nearest non-Mitsubishi rival is third-placed Giniel de Villers, who lies 26m 16s adrift after eight special stages. Frenchman Thierry Magnaldi won today's special - his second of the campaign - with American Mark Miller matching Peterhansel's equal second fastest time.

~I got stuck in the sand and we also had two flat tires,~ said Peterhansel. ~The latter part of the stage was very fast and we reached 196 km/h with a tail wind on this section.~

~It was a bad day for me,~ said Alphand. ~I got stuck for about a quarter of an hour and we got lost for a time. It is disappointing to lose four minutes to Stéphane as well.~

Spanish Joan 'Nani' Roma and Henri Magne were classified seventh at the first passage control, but were running third on the road after a tricky waypoint between PCs one and two and eventually finished the stage with the fourth fastest time.

~It was a very difficult stage with a lot of sand and we spent too much time trying to find a difficult waypoint,~ said Roma. ~We spent five or six minutes trying to find this point. But our three cars are here in one piece and some of our rivals have had problems, so we should be very relieved at this point.~

~It is only half way to Dakar, but I will not deny that we have had a very positive couple of days,~ said Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys. ~But this is the Dakar Rally and anything can happen at any time. We will just keep our focus and maintain our concentration next week and see what develops.~

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the official rest day for competitors in this year's Dakar Rally. While mechanics use the day to refettle battle-worn cars, drivers and co-drivers use the time for well-earned rest and mix with large numbers of VIPs and members of the media who are flown in to visit the Dakar to absorb the atmosphere of the event.

Positions on SS8 (unofficial @ 17.00 hrs):
1. Thierry Magnaldi (F)/Arnaud Debron (F) Schlesser Buggy 5h 00m 56s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5h 07m
3. Mark Miller (USA)/Dirk Van Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 5h 07m 48s
4. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5h 08m 51s
5. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 5h 11m 32s
6. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 5h 27m 12s

Positions after SS8 (unofficial @ 17.20 hrs):
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 27h 43m 41s
2. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 27h 44m 13s
3. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Tina Thörner (S) Volkswagen Touareg 28h 09m 57s
4. Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (AND) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 28h 27m 16s
5. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Volkswagen Touareg 28h 50m 07s
6. Thierry Magnaldi (F)/Arnaud Debron (F) Schlesser Buggy 29h 17m 21s
7.Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Francois Borsotto (F) Schlesser Buggy 29h 29m 02s
8. Mark Miller (USA)/Dirk Van Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 29h 55m 54s, etc


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: 07/01/2006

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