Dakar: Repsol Mitsubishi scrutineering report

REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART TEAM SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES RALLY CHECKS The drivers of the 2005 winning team will face tomorrow's inaugural stage of the Lisbon Dakar Rally with caution The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team completed the final ...

REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART TEAM SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES RALLY CHECKS
The drivers of the 2005 winning team will face tomorrow's inaugural stage of the Lisbon Dakar Rally with caution

The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team completed the final formalities at the Belem Cultural Centre in Lisbon this morning, prior to the official start of the 28th edition of the Dakar Rally tomorrow morning in the Portuguese capital.

Repsol drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Luc Alphand, Hiroshi Masuoka and Nani Roma were joined by their respective co-drivers Jean-Paul Cottret, Gilles Picard, Pascal Maimon and Henri Magne to finalise administrative paperwork and technical checks to pass the organizers' stringent safety and legality checks.

In addition to the four Repsol Mitsubishi Montero, there will be a record field of 240 motorbikes, 184 cars, 80 trucks and 240 assistance vehicles, ready to take part in this year's rally that will be made up of 15 special stages making up 4,813 kms of the total 9,043 kms that make up the route that will take them through Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Senegal. The event will have its traditional finish at Lake Rose, close to Dakar, on Sunday, January 15th.

Tomorrow will be the opening leg of the 2006 Dakar Rally, featuring a potentially treacherous special stage between Lisbon and Portimao, on the Algarve. After a road liaison section of 186 kms, the participants will tackle a narrow and winding 83 kms stage in the Alentejo wine region. The teams are now anxiously looking at the weather forecasts to ensure that the correct tires are fitted for the stage. Finally, a 101 kms liaison section will then take the crews to the overnight halt and traditional New Year's Eve dinner in the holiday town of Portimao.

Nani Roma: "There's nothing left for the start and fortunately the whole checking procedure is over. You spend these days walking around with not much to do, eager to start the race. The forecasts say that we will find a lot of mud and water tomorrow, but it will be the same for all of us. These are stages we just have to pass. We have to take it with ease, not wanting to do more than what we should because the real race starts in Africa and here, the only thing you can do is loosing it. We have to move on calmly, being aware that there is a long way ahead; the real Dakar will start in a couple of days. There'll be time enough to take risks. I'm not nervous but I got a lump in my stomach because a very important race will start. Both Henry and I are really looking forward to the start. Once we have started the first special, everything will be fine."

Stephane Peterhansel: "It is never easy to win the Dakar for the first time. But our whole team works really well together and I have a great chance to win the race for the third year. We carried out some very positive tests with the new Pajero Evolution over the last few months and I think that we are ready for the battle over the coming days."

Hiroshi Masuoka: "The Baja Portalegre in October was a great test for the first stage on Saturday. It was a difficult special, particularly in the rain. We have the option of mud tires if the weather is bad. I will follow Giniel de Villiers in the stage and be on the track in front of Carlos Sainz, so it will be interesting. I will be cautious, because I would be quite happy with fifth or sixth place when we cross into Morocco."

Dominique Serieys, Team Manager: "Our team knows that it would be stupid to take any risks over the first two days in Portugal, where a mistake could be very costly. We know that the stages can be slippery. It is a time to be cautious. You can lose the Dakar in Portugal, but you cannot win it!"

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Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Luc Alphand , Henri Magne , Hiroshi Masuoka , Stéphane Peterhansel , Jean-Paul Cottret , Gilles Picard , Giniel de Villiers , Pascal Maimon , Nani Roma