Top four places for Mitsubishi Motors Team. The Mitsubishi Motors Team was in dominant form today, taking the top four places in today's tenth stage of the TelefÃ³nica Dakar Rally. Recovering from his difficulties during Friday's stage, Hiroshi...
Top four places for Mitsubishi Motors Team.
The Mitsubishi Motors Team was in dominant form today, taking the top four places in today's tenth stage of the Telef?nica Dakar Rally. Recovering from his difficulties during Friday's stage, Hiroshi Masuoka set the fastest time at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolution, coming home two minutes and 46 seconds ahead of team-mate and rally leader St?phane Peterhansel. The two Mitsubishi Motors drivers further increased their lead over their nearest rival, Gr?goire de Mevius and his BMW X5, who suffered from navigational problems today.
The 521 km stage between Zilla and Sarir started off with 130 km of sandy tracks, before heading off-road for the remaining distance - all without the use of the Global Positioning System. The pressure was therefore on the co-drivers and their navigation skills. Although windy, the day was warm and sunny, with temperatures in the mid-twenties, and the landscape stretched out endlessly to the horizon, with no landmarks, and hardly any vegetation. Today's finish point was situated on the edges of an oil refinery, in the dunes, the bright lights of which should serve as a beacon for any competitors arriving after dark.
Today stage winners, Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka, and his co-driver Andreas Schulz of Germany, completed the stage in 3 hours, 46 minutes and 36 seconds. "There were a couple of places in the dunes where it could have been quite tricky", Masuoka explained. "But it was a good day for me". Schulz was equally pleased with the day's result. "I suppose that without the GPS today there was more pressure on the co-drivers, but the stage was straight-forward. The latter part was just straight, straight, straight ahead, so there were no real problems."
Their Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolution is now only 14 minutes and 6 seconds behind overall leader St?phane Peterhansel and his co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret.
"It was a very fast stage", said Peterhansel. "It was not too difficult, just a little windy at the start. By the end it was just flat out across the sand. We had no problems. It was a case of not doing anything silly".
Jean-Pierre Fontenay, in the n° 202 Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero, claimed his third successive top-three position, coming in third today after setting the second fastest time yesterday. "The visibility was not too good at the start, due to the wind, but after that there were no further problems", his co-driver Gilles Picard explained. "There was some nice scenery. We started in second place on the road this morning and passed Ari Vatanen, when he stopped to change a wheel. The rally pace is very fast when the top cars are finishing a 521 km stage in less than four hours!" Fontenay and Picard are currently lying fifth overall.
"Miki" Biasion and Tiziano Siviero, at the wheel of the n° 207 Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero, were fourth today, gaining a place in the overall classification, in which they now occupy the 6th position. "I am trying to drive faster each day, but we have had small problems each time", admitted Biasion, the double World Rally Champion. "We lost 30 minutes with a wheel problem two days ago and then on Friday, we got lost. Today was okay. This is a great experience for me, and I really want to reach the finish, especially as this is my first time with Mitsubishi".
Over the past three days, Portugal's Carlos Sousa has been creeping up the leaderboard in his Mitsubishi L200 Strakar, beginning today's section in fifth place. He finished the stage in 10th place. "We had difficulty finding the first passage control, but after that it was okay, just flat out to the end", he explained. Sousa and his co-driver Magne are lying seventh overall.
Meanwhile, Spaniard Jos?-Luis Monterde continues to head the privateers' category in 12th place in his Mitsubishi Pajero. 14th-placed Brazilian Klever Kolberg leads the Total Trophy for Amateur drivers and Frenchman Jean-Fran?ois Guinot is 17th in a Challenger GLX. Germany's Andrea Mayer finished 19th overall in the day's stage and holds 29th position.
The section finished within two kilometres of the windswept bivouac in Sarir, where an incessant sandstorm made conditions difficult for the Dakar caravan. The Mitsubishi Motors Team mechanics began their long task of preparing the cars in readiness for tomorrow's stage, which will take them into Egypt. The special stage, 438 km long, features a number of towering dunes, with tricky ascents and descents. After 147 km of liaison, they will reach the overnight halt at the Siwa oasis, which will be their home for three nights.