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CC Mitsubishi maintain iron grip on 29th Dakar Rally

2007 Dakar Rally

Leg 10 Néma - Néma
Liaison: 10.00 km, Special 366.00 km, Liaison 24.00 km, Total 400 km

Weather conditions: warm, dry and windy: 18-29C

For immediate release
Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

TEAM REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART MAINTAIN IRON
GRIP ON DAKAR RALLY AFTER NĖMA LOOP STAGE

Peterhansel edges further ahead of team mate Alphand in overall standings;
Japan’s Masuoka sets second fastest time to consolidate fifth; Roma eighth

NĖMA, Mauritania – Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart maintained firm control of the 29th Dakar Rally, after the 366km loop stage around the Néma bivouac in Mauritania on Tuesday.

All four Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions reached the bivouac without any problems or without the drivers taking any risks, but Stéphane Peterhansel’s and Jean-Paul Cottret’s fourth fastest time means they head into the 11th stage on Thursday, 9m 56s ahead of team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard in the overall standings. Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah clinched his first ever Dakar Rally stage win, with Mitsubishi’s Hiroshi Masuoka in second place.

Alphand and Picard began the special behind Jean-Louis Schlesser’s Buggy, as they attempted to reduce Peterhansel’s 7m 50s overall lead. But Peterhansel had extended his advantage by 1m 41s at the 186km point and, despite following the defending champion for much of the special caught. He passed him near the end.

“We caught Luc after about 150km and we stayed behind him in the dust and the soft sand,” said Peterhansel. “Then, in an off-road section, we passed him about 10km from the end. But I drove more than 200km in the dust. It was not very comfortable. Today’s stage was not too fast and on a sandy track. It was not too hard, but we will see completely different terrain in the next few days and this was not very kind to me last year, so we will see.”

Alphand was unable to claw back any time: “We had orders to preserve our cars this morning and, when we passed Schlesser, it was not easy to be the first car on the road. It is not easy to find a good pace. We will try again over the next few stages without taking any risks. Stéphane will be ahead of us on the next stage, so it will be a little easier.”

Hiroshi Masuoka and Pascal Maimon began the stage in fifth overall and was the fastest of the four Mitsubishi crews at PC1 and PC2, 1m 22s ahead of Peterhansel at the 259km point. The Japanese reached the finish in second position to consolidate fifth overall.

“It was an enjoyable stage, driving in between the small trees,” said Masuoka. “It was difficult to overtake the bikes, because the riders were not able to leave the main track. For that reason we needed to be extra careful. When I caught Stéphane and Luc, I followed them and stayed behind them to the stage finish without taking any risks.”

Joan ‘Nani’ Roma and Lucas Cruz began the 10th stage in 13th position in the overall standings, after Carlos Sainz had been reinstated in the results in 10th place. Roma was seventh fastest through PC1 and eventually finished the stage in eighth to retain 13th in the overall standings.

“We lost about a minute and a half with a tiny navigational mistake, but everything else was okay,” said Roma. “After that I drove very carefully to make sure I did not break the car. The plan now is to follow the first two cars and stay in contact with them. The new partnership with Lucas is working well.”

“Today’s stage was very different to the last two Marathon days,” said MMSP’s Managing and Sporting Director Dominique Serieys. “It was not necessary to create a big fight by pushing. We have a cushion now and around 850km of special stages still to run. After the liaison tomorrow we will see. There is still some way to go. Hiroshi and ‘Nani’ are now working to support our two lead drivers.”

Tomorrow (Wednesday) will be an enforced rest day on the 29th Dakar Rally, the lack of competition brought about by the curtailment of competition between Néma and Timbuktu. Instead, teams will drive on a 280km liaison section from Néma to Ayoûn-el-Atroûs and competitive action will restart on Thursday morning.

Positions on SS10 –
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehhenec (F) BMW X3CC 3h 49m 48s
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 50m 16s
3. Mark Miller (USA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) Volkswagen Touareg 3h 51m 37s
4. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 51m 56s
5. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 3h 52m 36s
6. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 54m 02s
7. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Arnaud Debron (F) Schlesser-Ford 3h 57m 14s
8. Joan ‘Nani’ Roma (E)/Lucas Cruz (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 3h 58m 17s

Positions after leg 10 –
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 37h 35m 19s
2. Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 37h 45m 15s
3. Jean-Louis Schlesser (F)/Arnaud Debron (F) Schlesser-Ford 39h 06m 09s
4. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Alain Guehhenec (F) BMW X3CC 39h 35m 32s
5. Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Pascal Maimon (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 39h 47m 23s
6. Mark Miller (USA)/Ralph Pitchford (ZA) Volkswagen Touareg 39h 49m 26s
7. Carlos Sousa (P)/Andreas Schulz (D) Volkswagen Touareg 42h 56m 06s
8. Robby Gordon (USA)/Andy Grider (USA) Hummer 44h 28m 13s
9. Stéphane Henrard (B)Brigette Beceu (B) Volkswagen Buggy 45h 15m 40s
10. Carlos Sainz (E)/Michel Périn (F) Volkswagen Touareg 45h 21m 18s

13. Joan ‘Nani’ Roma (E)/Lucas Cruz (E) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 46h 54m 28s

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: 16/01/2007

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