CC Peterhansel gives new MPR13 its first ever stage win

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

2006 UAE Desert Challenge
FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, final round

Leg 3 Moreeb - Moreeb
Liaison 6 km, Special 218 km, Liaison 69 km - Total 293 km

Weather conditions: hot and sunny after early fog– 32-36C

For immediate release
Wednesday, November 8th, 2006


Frenchman Alphand extends his overall UAE Desert Challenge lead;
Japan’s Masuoka and co-driver Maimon set fifth fastest time

MOREEB, UAE – Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret recorded the first ever stage win for the new MPR13 version of Mitsubishi’s new Pajero/Montero Evolution on its race debut in the UAE Desert Challenge, today (Wednesday).

The victory on the car’s fourth day of competition moved Peterhansel and Cottret from fifth to second place overall. Defending Dakar Rally champions Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard extended Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart’s outright lead in the UAE Desert Challenge by setting the second fastest time. They now lead their team mates by 22m 22s, with Jean-Louis Schlesser a distant third.

Alphand and Picard had begun this morning’s second Moreeb loop stage with a commanding 14m 25s advantage over Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser. Opening the stage is not the ideal option and Alphand was caught by team mate Peterhansel shortly after PC1.

~Two small mistakes cost us some time, but it was nothing important, only about 30 seconds,~ said Alphand. ~The road book was not so clear and the tracks were quite old. But it was good to test the new car and follow Stéphane. I lost him a little bit at one point, but we managed to stay in touch. Now I must think about a finish and preserving this lead.~

Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret headed into the selective section 5m 15s behind fourth-placed Finn Ari Vatanen in the overall classification and immediately behind Alphand on the day’s timed section. They caught Alphand at PC1 and had taken 1m 47s out of the leader at the first PC. Peterhansel duly passed his team mate after PC1 and was fastest overall, a second quicker than Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah at PC2, before going on to secure the first ever stage win for the new MPR13 on its competition debut.

~Luc made a small mistake near the start and I caught him very early,~ said Peterhansel. ~After this I tried to push and keep a fast pace. The car is perfect. I think today we had a good tire pressure and the balance of the car felt excellent. Today was shorter than yesterday, but the tracks were the same. It is not easy to push too hard with these broken dunes, but it was a good day for us and a great test for the new car.~

Changing the clutch in the sand dunes had kept Hiroshi Masuoka and Pascal Maimon in contention for the top five on Tuesday afternoon and the Japanese star began this morning’s selective section 12th car on the road and in 10th place overall. He was running seventh quickest at PC1, sixth at PC2 and eventually set the fifth fastest time to move up to an unofficial eighth place.

~Winning the stage with the new car is very nice, but this is not ihat important,~ said MMSP’s Managing and Sporting Director Dominique Serieys. ~I asked Stéphane to push behind Luc to see where we were lying in the race after three days. Our drivers have done a great job. Our target was to work together and the drivers have done that today. Temperatures here are much hotter than we will face on the Dakar and the ground is much smoother, with no rocks and Mauritanian-type terrain. But we are here to develop the car and will continued to aim for our target over the next two days.~

Foggy and humid conditions are prevalent in the UAE at this time of year in the mornings and poor visibility hampered the organizers early today. In previous years there have been considerable delays on safety grounds in such conditions when event helicopters have been unable to over fly the route. For that reason today’s selective section was shortened to finish at PC4 and crews returned to the Moreeb Hill bivouac on an asphalt liaison section.

Punishing energy-sapping heat was making physical fitness and good preparation crucial factors in this year’s UAE Desert Challenge and the three Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart crews were able to benefit from a physical training and team bonding session they had carried out last month at La Grande Motte, near Montpellier, in France.

The event’s medical officials had warned competitors to fully hydrate themselves before each selective section and MMSP’s team physician and doctor Patrice Morel was on hand to ensure that members of the Mitsubishi team followed this crucial advice and were well prepared.

Tomorrow (Thursday) is the penultimate leg of this year’s UAE Desert Challenge and includes a tricky selective section through the Rub Al-Khali or Empty Quarter, made famous in the renowned books and stories by the late British author Wilfred Thesiger, who traversed Arabia in the middle of the last century.

The 378.90 km timed section – the longest of the entire event - again starts six kilometers from the Moreeb bivouac at the same point as Tuesday’s selective and passes through the Rub Al-Khali, south of Khis, before looping around the Humeem road. The finish will be a mere four kilometres from the second passage control on the road to Al-Dhafrah, near the finish of the opening desert selective section on Monday.

Positions on SSS3 – unofficial @ 14.30 hrs
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 39m 35s
2. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 43m 5t4s
3. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 2h 45m 24s
4. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X3 CC 2h 46m 54s
5. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2h 50m 31s
6. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3CC 2h 51m 39s

Positions after leg 3 – unofficial @ 14.30 hrs
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 9h 25m 53s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 9h 48m 15s
3. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Emmanual Guigou (F) Schlesser DSC Buggy 9h 51m 42s
4. Carlos Sousa (P)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 9h 54m 14s
5. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X3 CC 10h 37m 20s
6. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC 10h 53m 00s
7. José-Luis Monterde (E)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) BMW X5 10h 59m 17s
8. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 11h 02m 03s
9. Marc Corbett (ZA)Juan Mohr (ZA) Nissan Pick-Up 11h 12m 07s


Date issued: 08/11/2006

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