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CC Mixed fortunes for Mitsubishi team on special stage into Mauritania

2007 Dakar Rally

Leg 6 Tan Tan – Zouérat
Liaison: 414.00 km, Special 394.00 km, Liaison 9.00 km, Total 817 km

Weather conditions: cool, overcast and windy: 10-19C

For immediate release
Thursday, January 11th, 2007

MIXED FORTUNES FOR TEAM REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART ON LONGEST DAY OF THE 29TH DAKAR RALLY

Peterhansel matches leader Sainz; Masuoka delayed with clutch problems;
Roma loses time with a puncture and at the scene of rival’s accident

ZOUÉRAT, Mauritania – The longest day of this year’s Dakar Rally – a tiring 817km section between Tan Tan in southern Morocco and Zouérat in north-western Mauritania – offered mixed fortunes for Team Repsol Misubishi Ralliart. Team drivers Luc Alphand, Stéphane Peterhansel, Joan ‘Nani’ Roma and Hiroshi Masuoka now hold fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth places in the overall standings.

Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret were the leading Mitsubishi crew through the first passage control in sixth position and finished the stage a mere 32 seconds behind the overall rally leader Carlos Sainz in fourth place. The French duo will now start the subsequent special into Atar, 25m 03s behind the Spaniard and in fifth position overall.

“My stage time was not so bad,” said Peterhansel. “The stage was so fast. We did 157km in the first hour! We are not as fast as some of the other cars on the high-speed sections. I hope now the race has entered Mauritania we have some big dunes. Maybe this is my opportunity to take some time back. For the last two years tomorrow’s stage has been good for Mitsubishi, but we do not know where the route will go, so we must wait and see.”

Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard were classified eighth through the first passage control and eventually finished the stage in seventh position. They now hold fourth in the overall standings.

“We must have spent three quarters of the stage absolutely flat out,” admitted Alphand. “I really tried hard in the camel grass and I still lost two minutes to Stéphane by the first passage control. Maybe my tire pressure was slightly under the ideal setting. The last part of the stage was a sandy track, with some camel grass and small dunes. I just have to keep up my pace and try again tomorrow. The others are really pushing.”

Joan ‘Nani’ Roma and Lucas Cruz began the stage as the leading Mitsubishi crew in fourth place and were 10th through the first passage control, but they lost over 20 minutes through the latter sections; four minutes to assist at the scene of the accident involving Guerlain Chicherit’s BMW X3CC and further vital minutes attempting to change a flat tire. Roma now holds seventh overall.

“At about 204km we stopped to help at the scene of the Chicherit accident for about four minutes,” said co-driver Lucas Cruz. “Then we passed Mark Miller and Carlos Sousa, but we had to stop with a flat right tire. We tried to change the wheel, but it took a lot longer than we hoped and we lost more time than usual for a flat tire.”

Hiroshi Masuoka and Pascal Maimon lost 35 minutes before the first passage control after stopping 60km into the stage to affect emergency repairs to their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution, which had suffered clutch problems.

“Everything was going very well,” said Masuoka. “Then we had a problem with the clutch and we had to stop and change it in the stage.”

“We limited the difference between us, the VWs and the Buggies in today’s stage and that was the priority,” said MMSP’s Managing and Sporting Director Dominique Serieys. “’Nani’ lost some time stopping to help Guerlain and then he had a flat tire, Hiroshi was delayed, but Stéphane and Luc did a good job. The average speeds were so high today.

“For nearly 400km, it took less than three hours for the leading cars. Now we must look ahead to tomorrow and the stage into Atar. It is not the same stage as last year and passes the right side of Atar. You never know what the weather conditions will be, but it is a new day and I hope that we can get some time back to organize a nice fight for the remainder of the race into Dakar.”

Tomorrow (Friday), Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart will tackle the first of the very difficult Dakar special stages between Zouérat and the rest day location at Atar. The 542km special begins just four kilometres from the overnight halt and is the longest of the event so far. It finishes in Atar after a short 34km liaison section.

The day marks the first of the treacherous Mauritanian dune crossings, the incentive to reach the finish being the onset of the rest day on Saturday. The stage loops its way around Choûm before heading south-west of Atar and returning on sandy tracks between Akjoujt and Ain Attaya.

Positions on SSS6 – Tan Tan to Zouérat (unofficial @ 17.00 hrs)
1. Robbie Gordon (USA)/Andy Grider (USA) Hummer 2h 58m 57s
2. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Arnaud Debron (F) Schlesser-Ford 2h 59m 14s
3. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 3h 05m 49s
4. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 3h 06m 14s
5. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 06m 46s
6. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehhenec (F) BMW X3CC 3h 07m 21s
7. Carlos Sousa (P)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 3h 09m 00s
8. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 09m 42s
9. Mark Miller (USA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) Volkswagen Touareg 3h 11m 35s
TBA. Joan ‘Nani’ Roma (E)/Lucas Cruz (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 27m 29s

Positions after leg 6 –
1. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 16h 00m 04s
2. Giniel de Villiers (ZA)/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 16h 03m 15s
3. Carlos Sousa (P)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 16h 14m 07s
4. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 16h 23m 59s
5. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 16h 25m 07s
6. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Arnaud Debron (F) Schlesser-Ford 16h 28m 54s
7. Joan ‘Nani’ Roma (E)/Lucas Cruz (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 16h 33m 35s
8. Mark Miller (USA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) Volkswagen Touareg 16h 54m 57s
9. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 17h 04m 27s
10. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehhenec (F) BMW X3CC 17h 23m 36s

Ends

For further information please visit:
http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com/motorsports/e/07dakar/index.html
For further information please contact: press-e@mitsubishi-ralliart.com



Date issued: 11/01/2007

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