Mitsubishi Pajero / Monteros take three of top four places in prologue stage. The Mitsubishi Motors Team held second, third and fourth places after the one kilometre Prologue stage, which officially got the 2003 TelefÃ³nica Dakar Rally underway...
Mitsubishi Pajero / Monteros take three of top four places in prologue stage.
The Mitsubishi Motors Team held second, third and fourth places after the one kilometre Prologue stage, which officially got the 2003 Telef?nica Dakar Rally underway at Parc Chanot in Marseilles on New Year's Day (Wednesday).
St?phane Peterhansel and Hiroshi Masuoka, at the wheel of a pair of Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolutions, held second and third positions, with Peterhansel a mere 0.36 seconds behind the overnight leader Kenjiro Shinozuka.
Italy's "Miki" Biasion, competing in his first Dakar for the Mitsubishi team, was fourth overall and 1998 winner Jean-Pierre Fontenay, from France, finished the stage in sixth position.
A massive crowd had gathered adjacent to the Stade V?lodrome to witness the official start of the 25th Anniversary event and see off the entry of 162 bikes, 130 cars, 51 trucks and 147 assistance vehicles at the start of the 8,602 kms race across five countries. The purpose-built, loose-surface special stage was designed to accommodate two competitors running in parallel.
"This is an ideal way of entertaining the crowds and bringing the excitement of the Dakar to the general public", said Mitsubishi's team director Dominique Serieys. "But we know that the outcome of this Prologue has little impact on the overall result of the rally. There are a lot of difficult sections to pass before the finish on January 19th".
After this evening's short stage competitors headed north-west, en route to the first passage control at Salon-de-Provence and a brief meal stop arranged within the confines of the Roman Amphitheatre in N?mes.
The overnight parc ferm? was situated at the Exhibition Park in Narbonne and teams were greeted over the traditional finish ramp late on Wednesday evening by an enthusiastic crowd lining the streets in the city centre.
The Mitsubishi team will head out into the second leg of the 2003 Telef?nica Dakar on Thursday morning and into a short liaison section to the start of a 43 kms special stage, near Corbi?res. Competitors will then begin a 510 kms road section to the overnight halt at Castell?n, across the border on Spain's east coast.