Sousa bids to extend FIA Cross Country lead in Turkey

Rallye d'Orient Cappadoce
2003 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, round 6

For immediate release
Friday, August 8th, 2003


Komornicki enters in Ralliart Pajero

URGUB (Turkey): Mitsubishi's Carlos Sousa will be bidding to extend his lead in the FIA World Drivers' Championship, when he tackles the Rallye d'Orient Cappadoce, the sixth round of this year's FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, which starts in Turkey on Monday (August 11th).

With additional support from TMN and Galp for his Mitsubishi Portugal-backed L200 Strakar, the Portuguese and his French co-driver Henri Magne arrive in Turkey 10 points clear of defending World Champion Jean-Louis Schlesser in his Ford-engined Schlesser Buggy.

Sousa was plagued by a series of brake problems and a time-consuming flat tyre on the Baja event in Spain last month and finished seventh overall, four places behind his main rival for the title.

Schlesser, for his part, has an impressive record on this event and the pair will continue their two-way battle for the Drivers' title in energy-sapping summer temperatures and over punishing rocky mountain tracks through some of the remotest parts of Turkey - the gateway to the Orient.

~It is my first time on this rally and my first time in Turkey,~ said Sousa. ~I don't have any idea what to expect in terms of the stages, but Henri (Magne) has worked hard over the last couple of weeks studying maps and looking at the paperwork from the organisers. He has a general idea of what to expect. I will take it carefully and place the priority on reaching the finish.

~Looking down the entry list, the rally should be fought out between myself and Jean-Louis. We have the best cars on paper and the most experience, but you never can tell in rallying. There are likely to be several mountain stages and these should suit my car much better. I enjoy this type of stage.~

Poland's Lukasz Komornicki and co-driver Rafal Marton are also entered in this six-day cross- country event through the Turkish hills at the wheel of a Ralliart France-prepared Mitsubishi Pajero*. The pair finished fifth overall in the Orpi Rally of Morocco in June and Komornicki lies equal fifth in the FIA World Drivers' Championship.

Both Mitsubishi teams face competition next week from Frenchman Jean-Pierre Strugo in a Mercedes ML430, former racing driver Phillipe Gache in a Ford Pro Truck and a number of privateers in Chevrolets, Hondas, Nissans and Mitsubishis.

Formerly known as the Masters Rally and run by the French Dakar veteran driver René Metge, the Rallye d'Orient Cappadoce is now run entirely on gravel sections and features loops in and out of the town of Urgub in the Cappadoce region each day. Competition action reaches a conclusion next Saturday (August 16th) in the town centre.

This event has been radically revised and shortened in recent years: it used to head across several of the former Russian States, start in Istanbul and finish in St. Petersburg and was one of the longest events of its kind in the world.

Rallye d'Orient Cappadoce (top 10 starters):
200. Carlos Sousa (P)/Henri Magne (F) Mitsubishi L200 Strakar
201. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Jean-Marc Lurquin (F) Schlesser-Ford Raid
202. Jean-Pierre Strugo (F)/Pascal Larroque (F) Mercedes ML430
203. Lukasz Komornicki (PL)/Rafal Marton (PL) Mitsubishi Pajero*
204. Balazs Szalay (H)/Zsolt Revezs (H) Chevrolet Blazer
205. Eric Vigoroux (F)/Alexandre Wicocq (F) Chevrolet Pro Truck
206. Sergey Shmakov (RU)/Stanislav Orlov (RU) Honda HRV
207. Phillipe Gache (F)/Bruno Catarelli (F) Ford Pro Truck
208. Henry de Roissard (F)/Elodie Metge (F) Nissan Terrano
209. Bernard Dhont (F)/Jean-Claude Katet (F) Honda HRV

FIA World Drivers' Championship - after 5 rounds
1. Carlos Sousa - Mitsubishi (P) 79
2. Jean-Louis Schlesser - Schlesser-Ford (F) 69
3. Giniel de Villiers - Nissan (ZA) 45
4. Jean-Pierre Strugo - Mercedes (F) 36
5. Miki Biasion - Mitsubishi (I) 33
Lukasz Komornicki - Mitsubishi (PL) 33
7. Hiroshi Masuoka - Mitsubishi (J) 30
Luc Alphand - BMW (F) 30, etc


Date issued: 07/08/2003

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