Mitsubishi Motors' Cross-Country Program Gets Underway in Tunisia
Tokyo, March 30, 2004 -- The 2004 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies kicks off in Tunisia next week (April 3-12) and the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports Team will field two Pajero/Montero Evolutions for former Dakar Rally winners Stephane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret and Hiroshi Masuoka/Gilles Picard.
Peterhansel and Cottret dominated the Rallye de Tunisie last year, controlling the leaderboard for six of the seven stages before losing a potential victory within sight of the finish. Since then, the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution has undergone extensive testing and development and took an emphatic victory in the 2003 UAE Desert Challenge as well as a fourth consecutive win for Mitsubishi in the 2004 Dakar Rally. The specification of the car remains unchanged from the Dakar, in which Mitsubishi notched up an impressive one-two, as well as its ninth outright victory.
"Tunisia is one of my favorite events of the year," said Peterhansel, who won the rally with Mitsubishi in 2002. "Last year was bitterly disappointing for me and the entire team and it came on the heels of our disappointments in Dakar 2003 and Italy. But that is history and we have begun this year in the best possible way by winning the Dakar. That was a dream for me and I am looking forward to continuing my run of good results."
In addition to the regular expertise from team engineers and mechanics, Peterhansel and Masuoka will be supported by five Mitsubishi dealer mechanics that have undergone rigorous tests in Japan to be part of Mitsubishi's winning cross-country team. As part of a staff incentive program -- successfully tried and tested in previous years -- Mitsubishi Motors offered this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to five of its mechanics and after months of intense tests and various endurance exercises, five have been chosen from a staggering 8,300 to join the team in Tunisia.
The Optic 2000 Rallye de Tunisie starts in Nice on Sunday April 4 and kicks off with the traditional prologue stage before the entire caravan of teams and support crews head towards Marseille and the Mediterranean ferry crossing to Tunisia. Seven stages lay in wait in the remote southern deserts before the finish in the town of Tozeur on Easter Monday (April 12).