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CC Alphand and Picard win the UAE Desert Challenge for Mitsubishi team

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News

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

Leg 5 Moreeb - Dubai
Liaison: 119.35 km, Special 122.45 km, Liaison 103.85 km, Special 163.90 km, Liaison 44.85 km - Total 554.40 km

Weather conditions: hot and sunny – 26-35C

For immediate release
Friday, November 10th, 2006

LUC ALPHAND AND GILLES PICARD CLINCH OUTRIGHT VICTORY FOR MITSUBISHI IN UAE DESERT CHALLENGE

• Peterhansel finishes second overall; Japan’s Masuoka takes seventh place;
• Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart clinches FIA World Cup Manufacturers’ award;

DUBAI, UAE – Reigning Dakar Rally champions Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard clinched outright victory for Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart after five punishing desert legs of the 2006 UAE Desert Challenge, today (Friday).

The French duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret confirmed second overall on the final timed selective sections on Friday, wshile team mates Hiroshi Masuoka and Pascal Maimon finished in seventh place. Mitsubishi also confirmed victory in the 2006 FIA Cross-Country Manufacturers’ Championship.

The event is arguably the most difficult round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, held across some of the most remote and spectacular desert terrain in the world. This year it took place in some of the most extreme temperatures ever faced by teams in international Cross-Country rallying.

Alphand became the sixth Mitsubishi driver to win the UAE Desert Challenge in its 14-year history in the FIA World Cup. The Japanese manufacturer has now clinched eight wins in the last 14 seasons – the most successful run of form by any team in the history of the event. Alphand joins a list of Mitsubishi winners that includes Saeed Al-Hajri, Bruno Saby, Jean-Pierre Fontenay and team mates Masuoka and Peterhansel (three wins).

Alphand and Picard began the final day with a 20m 45s lead over Peterhansel and Cottret, the latter pairing giving the MPR13 version of Mitsubishi’s new Pajero/Montero Evolution its competitive debut before the Dakar Rally in January.

The new car recorded its first ever stage win on Wednesday’s third leg and the French duo confirmed the runner-up spot over today’s final two selective sections, as both leading cars stayed clear of trouble to complete a resounding Mitsubishi 1-2 finish. Alphand’s winning margin was 15m 59s.

“Today was a matter of staying out of trouble and making no mistakes,” said Alphand. “This was a long and difficult rally and I am delighted to win here for the first time. The terrain here is quite stunning and the temperatures inside and outside the car made it that much more of a challenge. Our whole team has performed superbly well.”

“There was no point in taking any risks today,” said Peterhansel. “We proved again that we are a very strong team and I am very happy with the performance of the new car. This was a good test for me and a great result for the whole team.”

Hiroshi Masuoka and Pascal Maimon began the day 2m 42s behind sixth-placed Jutta Kleinschmidt and the Mitsubishi duo reduced the deficit to a mere 1m 17s after the first section of the final selective by recording the third fastest time. But Kleinschmidt fended off the Japanese driver’s late challenge on the second timed test and Masuoka duly settled for seventh place, the finish boosting the twice Dakar champion’s confidence before his next Dakar challenge.

“The entire team has worked very hard in the last six months to develop our new car,” said MMSP’s Managing and Sporting Director Dominique Serieys. “We carried out tests in June and September and now we have achieved this great success in the UAE Desert Challenge. I am obviously delighted for the entire team that we have achieved this result, but my thoughts are also on the fact that it is only six months since we lost Henri (Magne) in Morocco and that was on my mind today.

“The goal will be to hopefully dedicate the next Dakar victory to him. We are pleased that another difficult test with the new MPR13 has gone well. Luc, Stéphane and Hiroshi did a good job and ‘Nani (Roma) will test the new MPR13 here in the next couple of days. We can now look forward to the Dakar with this good result behind us.”

“I am very proud of our team and their achievements this week,” said MMSP’s President Isao Torii. “They have worked well together to achieve this result and we can now concentrate our efforts on the target of winning the Dakar Rally again next year.”

“The rally in Dubai is held in special and unique conditions and is not really a true test of the new MPR13,” admitted MMSP’s Technical Director Thierry Viardot. “But we have proved one thing and that is we have no problems with the cooling. In fact, we even have a safety margin. The rally was good training for the drivers and the team, but we are under no illusions that the task on the Dakar will be much different.”

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart crews will now embark upon a further desert test this weekend in the dunes to the south of Dubai and then one final physical training and team building session in Brittany in December. Then the entire team’s efforts are concentrated on the defence of the Dakar Rally title for a record-breaking seventh successive season. The African classic gets underway from Lisbon on Saturday, January 6th.

Positions on SSS5 (section 1) –
1. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Emmanual Guigou (F) Schlesser DSC Buggy 1h 04m 50s
2. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 1h 05m 29s
3. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1h 06m 40s
4. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1h 06m 47s
5. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3CC 1h 08m 05s
6. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1h 08m 30s
7. Carlos Sousa (P)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 1h 09m 31s

Positions on SSS5 (section 2) –
1. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 1h 35m 14s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1h 37m 33s
3. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X3 CC 1h 37m 35s
4. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3CC 1h 37m 45s
5. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1h 39m 10s
6. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 1h 40m 36s
7. Carlos Sousa (P)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 1h 41m 20s

Final positions after leg 5 –
1. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 16h 51m 15s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 17h 07m 14s
3. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Emmanual Guigou (F) Schlesser DSC Buggy 17h 27m 42s
4. Carlos Sousa (P)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 17h 32m 12s
5. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehennec (F) BMW X3 CC 18h 02m 09s
6. Jutta Kleinschmidt (D)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC 18h 25m 34s
7. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 18h 28m 16s
8. José-Luis Monterde (E)/Jean-Marie Lurquin (B) BMW X5 19h 03m 50s
9. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (UAE) Liberty Chevrolet 20h 44m 43s
10. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 21h 12m 45s
11. Ahmed Bin Soughat (UAE)/Abdul Bari Bin Soughat (UAE) Liberty Chevrolet 21h 37m 09s

Ends




Date issued: 10/11/2006

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