Dakar: Mitsubishi celebrates overall win

Mitsubishi Motors Takes Fourth Straight Dakar Crown for Record Ninth Win - Peterhansel, Masuoka Drive Montero Evolutions to 1-2 Finish - TOKYO, Jan. 20 -- Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC), together with motor sport affiliate MMSP GmbH.,...

Mitsubishi Motors Takes Fourth Straight Dakar Crown for Record Ninth Win
- Peterhansel, Masuoka Drive Montero Evolutions to 1-2 Finish -

TOKYO, Jan. 20 -- Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC), together with motor sport affiliate MMSP GmbH., took its record-breaking fourth consecutive win and ninth overall victory since first entering the event in 1983, on Sunday, January 18, 2004 when Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret won the prestigious Telefonica Dakar Rally. Montero Evolution teammates Hiroshi Masuoka and Gilles Picard claimed an emphatic one-two for Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports team, making it the seventh year Mitsubishi Motors has filled at least the top two winning positions on the Dakar Rally (1992, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004). Andrea Mayer and double Dakar Rally-winning co-driver Andreas Schulz fulfilled their support role superbly, the German pair arriving in Dakar in a fine fifth position in their Montero.

Upon hearing the results, MMC President and CEO Rolf Eckrodt said: "The Dakar Rally is the toughest and most demanding motor sports event in the world. We take great pride in the fact that Mitsubishi Motors has won the title four times in a row. This result stems from the core values that characterize Mitsubishi Motors: Passion, Performance and Perfection. The passion to excel underpinned by an undaunted team spirit and forged with competition-bred performance has produced a winning recipe. It is our customers who ultimately benefit from our motor sports experiences and success by enjoying cars that mirror exactly this formula for success."

Sven Quandt , who heads MMC's motor sports unit MMSP, added: "2004 marks the start of a new page in MMC's motor sports history. Coming into the Dakar Rally with a revamped organization and new team structure, I am overjoyed at our fourth consecutive overall victory and the individual performances of Stephane, Hiroshi and the rest of the team.

"Last year Stephane suffered the bitter disappointment of losing the race near the finish and we are all delighted for him that he has made amends with victory this time. Andrea raced a Mitsubishi on last year's Dakar, but this was her first time in the full factory team. We are all delighted with her fifth-place position. She drove very well in her role as a support driver.

"MMC returns to the WRC after a year's hiatus this month with the brand-new Lancer WRC04 in the Rallye Monte Carlo, which starts on January 23. It will be no easy matter to deliver the results in the first event but, as for the Dakar Rally, the whole team gave 100 percent. Our goal was for the new car to finish the event on its first attempt."

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports Team's performance in this year's Telefonica Dakar Rally has been virtually textbook, but for the retirement of former World Rally Champion Miki Biasion at the end of the sixth leg. The 11,052-kilometer route, through seven countries, has been classified by many as one of the toughest in years, and the fact that Mitsubishi Motors dominated throughout says volumes of its dedication to test and development work and its desire to succeed in one of the world's toughest endurance rallies.

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports drivers won six of the 14 competitive stages and, between Peterhansel and Masuoka led the event for all but one of the legs. Germany's Andrea Mayer also finished the rally as the leading female driver, despite her first priority being to support the Montero Evolution crews.

Unprecedented teamwork, skilled crews and exceptional technology have once again reaped rewards for Mitsubishi and its domination of the Dakar Rally continues. A rich variety of conditions, including gravel, snow, sand and the treacherous camel grass, combined with a mixture of weather, ranging from freezing to fearsome heat, fail to halt Mitsubishi's remarkable machinery, and the team will be back to defend its title and attempt to secure a tenth victory in 2005.

Stephane Peterhansel
"On the liaison section this morning I couldn't help but think about last year," said a delighted Peterhansel, who lost a potential victory in the penultimate stage of the 2003 event. "It has been a long time to wait one year for this victory. There were many times when it was easy to make a mistake. I spoke with Jean-Paul when we crossed the finish line of the special today and thanked him for a great job. I am happy for him. It's his first Dakar win."

"For the first win with the bike I had to wait four years. For the first win with the car it took me six", added Peterhansel, who now features in the record books alongside former Mitsubishi driver Hubert Auriol as one of only two winners in two different categories. "It is a completely different feeling. Hiroshi drove a perfect race as well, but it was my turn this time!"

Hiroshi Masuoka
"First of all, I would like to convey my congratulations to Stephane," said Masuoka. "As a member of the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Spots Team I am very happy with the results. I myself am very happy that I was able to contribute to Mitsubishi's one-two finish for the fourth consecutive year. Of course, I wish I would be the winner; therefore, I'm satisfied with this year's event. I made only one shift error, at Leg 8. Fortunately its impact wasn't huge, and I drove without problems in any of the other stages. It proved that our machine development process and my training program were right. My dream is to someday achieve the first-ever five Dakar wins. Therefore, I look forward to giving it my best on next year's event. From today, I intend to start preparing for the 2005 Dakar Rally. I hope everyone will continue to support me."

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Series DAKAR