DAKAR: Mitsubishi's Repsol Team 2006 sneak preview

MITSUBISHI MOTORS REPSOL TEAM HAPPY WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF THE NEW MPR12 Positive results after two intense test weeks in Morocco with the new Montero, ready for the 2006 Dakar The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Team has returned from a grueling ...

MITSUBISHI MOTORS REPSOL TEAM HAPPY WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF THE NEW MPR12

Positive results after two intense test weeks in Morocco with the new Montero, ready for the 2006 Dakar

The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Team has returned from a grueling two-week test and development session in Morocco with new MPR12 versions of the Mitsubishi Montero Evolution put through a punishing endurance test. Team drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Hiroshi Masuoka, Joan 'Nani' Roma and Luc Alphand put the revised new Montero Evolution through a series of rigorous tests over rocky and desert-type terrain. The endurance test was carried out over 9,000 kilometres in the remote Moroccan deserts and was attended by a full squad of drivers, co-drivers, management and team technicians. It was the second test of its kind that the Japanese manufacturer has planned and carried out this summer.

The successful team sponsored by Repsol will continue to work on revisions to the new Montero Evolution at the team's headquarters in Pont-de-Vaux, near Lyon, with the test and development program likely to continue over the coming weeks in readiness for the start of the 2006 Dakar Rally.

Continuing Mitsubishi's build-up to the world's most famous off-road rally, the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol team will enter two cars in both the Portalegre-based Baja Anta Da Serra 500 in October and the UAE Desert Challenge, the final round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, in the United Arab Emirates in mid-November. Alphand/Picard and Masuoka/Maimon will compete in Portugal and Peterhansel/Cottret and Roma/Magne in the UAE. For both events the crews will use the modified MPR11 chassis to make sure that preparations for the latest MPR12 version's debut on the Dakar can continue without delay.

The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Team recently extended its partnership with the Spanish oil company Repsol YPF and will enter four Mitsubishi Montero Evolutions in the 2006 Dakar Rally, which starts in Lisbon on New Year's Day. Defending champions Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret will be joined by fellow countrymen and last year's runners-up Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard, twice former winner Hiroshi Masuoka and new co-driver Pascal Maimon and this year's Baja Spain winners Joan 'Nani' Roma and the experienced Henri Magne for the 15-day African classic.

Dominique Serieys, Director MMSP's Team: "It was a successful test for the whole team and we remain on target with our detailed preparations for the Dakar Rally. We planned the test so that we carried out rigorous endurance driving with each of our four drivers. They all had time behind the wheel of the new MPR12 over gravel, in sand dunes and in camel grass. The outside temperatures were as high as 42-45 degrees Centigrade on some days, but we were delighted with the results of the test. 'Nani' Roma and Stephane drove during the first week and Hiroshi and Luc took over for the second week. After the successful Morocco test, we must ensure that our drivers are fully-prepared. The main goal of the Baja in Portugal and the longer event in Dubai is to further train our drivers in race conditions. We have a strong team and have maintained the same drivers who achieved such a great result on this year's Dakar Rally. The next two rallies should be an excellent training environment."

Stephane Peterhansel: "It was a very useful exercise for me; I had a lot of time behind the wheel of the new car and there was not one technical problem. The improvements the team have made to the suspension and engine characteristics were really positive and the ride was more comfortable. The new car has proved its durability and I am looking very confident to the Dakar again next year."

Nani Roma: "The results of this test week have been very positive. I enjoyed a lot, but the most important is that I felt comfortable at the wheel of the new version, the MP12, being able to continue with my aim of gathering experience. We made a resistance test that provided valuable information to the team. In addition to the test as such I'm very happy with my evolution in this year. I've progressed a lot and I hope that this training period will allow me to face the coming Dakar with certain guarantees. For the moment, we will continue with our working plan, testing and racing the UAE Desert Challenge."

-mitsuibishi-

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Series DAKAR