Mitsubishi aims for Dakar title

Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Ats Studios Team Bids For Fifth Successive Dakar Rally Victory With Strong Five-Car Team Defending champion Peterhansel and two times winner Masuoka on track 2004 Dakar Bike winner Roma and Frenchman Alphand join the ...

Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Ats Studios Team Bids For Fifth Successive Dakar Rally Victory With Strong Five-Car Team

Defending champion Peterhansel and two times winner Masuoka on track
2004 Dakar Bike winner Roma and Frenchman Alphand join the team
Support role for German lady driver Mayer and her new co-driver Polato

Tokyo, December 7, 2004 -- The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team has entered five cars in the 2005 Dakar Rally, as it bids to become the first team in history to win five successive Dakar rallies and clinch a record-breaking 10 overall victories.

The Mitsubishi Motors team has not been beaten on the gruelling African event since the Millennium and has entered a team of four Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions and a single Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up for the 16-day event, starting in Barcelona, Spain, on New Year's Day and finishing in Dakar, Senegal, on January 16th, 2005.

Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team presentation: the team members pose.
Photo by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.
Spearheading the team's challenge are the defending champion Stephane Peterhansel and the Japanese twice former winner Hiroshi Masuoka. Peterhansel teams up with regular co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret, while Masuoka is reunited with Germany's Andreas Schulz, with whom he won the event in 2003.

Completing the official team line-up are the Spanish newcomers Joan 'Nani' Roma, Frenchman Luc Alphand along with Germany's Andrea Mayer, and their respective co-drivers Henri Magne, Gilles Picard and Jean-Michel Polato.

Peterhansel won no less than six Dakar titles during an illustrious career as a motorcycle rider, also became only the second individual in the 27-year history of the event to win outright on both two and four wheels last January. Masuoka won outright in 2002 and 2003 and finished as the runner-up last year.

"We have carried out a lot of testing with the car since the last Dakar Rally," said Peterhansel. "I won both the Tunisia and Morocco rallies with the Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR10 and we were delighted with the performance of the new MPR11 during the recent competitive test in the UAE Desert Challenge. The revised car is more stable in the dunes and over fast ground, has more torque than the MPR10 and should be more competitive on this year's Dakar."

"It has been a quiet year for me in terms of competition since the Dakar Rally," said Masuoka. "One of my goals was to win the UAE Desert Challenge and I achieved that at my sixth attempt in October. That was a great result for my confidence. The team has tested the revised car in Morocco and there have been some marked improvements. I am confident that I can take my third Dakar victory.

Team newcomer Joan Roma won the 2004 Dakar Rally at the helm of a factory KTM motorcycle. He joins the Mitsubishi Motors team for the first time with Andorra-based Henri Magne, one of the most experienced of all the cross-country co-drivers and the winner of last year's FIA World Cup and this year's FIA European Baja Cup.

Roma drove a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution for the first time in September during the Morocco test and additionally after the UAE Desert Challenge also testing in the Middle East. At the end of November he will enter the Qatar Baja driving the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero to gain as much pre-event experience as possible. He has entered the Dakar on numerous occasions on a motorcycle. The start in Barcelona will mark only his second event with the Mitsubishi Motors team and his first behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution.

"This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for me to join Mitsubishi Motors for the Dakar," said Roma. "I have witnessed the successful transition that Stephane and Andrea have made from motorcycle riding to rallying on four wheels and hope that I can repay the team with a good result."

Luc Alphand was a World Downhill skiiing champion, before he became involved in cross-country rallying. The Frenchman was the first driver in history to win a stage of the Dakar in a diesel-engined car and joins Mitsubishi Motors for his team premiere after taking victories last year on the Baja Spain and Baja Germany events. He finished fourth overall in the 2004 Dakar Rally with co-driver Henri Magne.

"Mitsubishi Motors was always the team that I was trying to beat on rounds of the World Cup and the Dakar," said Alphand. "I am proud to be a part of the team now and feel confident that I can be one of the front-runners in the Dakar."

German lady Andrea Mayer joined the official Mitsubishi Motors factory team in 2003 and finished the 2004 Dakar Rally fifth overall in a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero. She tackled the recent UAE Desert Challenge in a Ralliart customer development car and she returns for the Dakar at the wheel of the L200 Pick-Up in which she finished 10th overall in June's Rally of Morocco.

Mayer teams up with Frenchman Jean-Michel Polato for the first time. Polato co-drove in the Mitsubishi Motors Portugal team during 2001 Dakar Rally for Carlos Sousa. He partnered Ralliart customer Nicolas Misslin during the 2003 Tunisia and Morocco rallies in a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero MPR9.

"It has been an excellent learning year for me," said Mayer. "I was running as high as fifth overall in the recent UAE Desert Challenge and have worked with the team throughout the 2004 season. The L200 Pick-Up is a competitive car and I hope to achieve a good result on the Dakar. I have a crucial support role to play for the team and that is the most important factor."

"We have worked tirelessly to ensure that the revised Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution stays at the forefront of development and competitiveness," said MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys. "We have put together a team for the Dakar, which offers a balance of experience and speed and I am confident that we can fulfil the goal of a 10th Dakar win and continue the overall winning streak we started in 2001."

"I was impressed with the professionalism of the entire team when I saw everyone working in extreme conditions in the UAE Desert Challenge for the first time in October," said Isao Torii, the new President of MMSP. "I am confident that they can deliver the goals we are looking for and wish everyone every success for the Dakar."

Spain will play host to the Dakar Rally for the fourth time - the event started from Granada in 1995, 1996 and 1999. The starting venue will be Spain's second city Barcelona. The major conurbation in Catalunya also witnessed the passing of the Dakar Rally in 1987 and 1989.

Scruitineering and documentation take place in Barcelona on December 28th-29th, before a Prologue stage on New Year's Eve. On New Year's Day the event gets underway from the Plaza de Espana and heads south for two timed sections en route to Granada.

Over the following 16 days the capacity entry heads into Morocco, through the Sahel and into the depths of the Mauritanian Sahara, before a rest day at the town of Atar. From there the planned route heads across the Mauritanian wilderness en route to the Republic of Mali and a traditional finish beside Lac Rose, near Dakar, in Senegal on January 16th 2005.

There will be only limited GPS points made available to competitors, one or more stages without GPS and two Marathon stages where service assistance is not permitted.

MITSUBISHI MOTORS REPSOL ATS STUDIOS TEAM - 2005 DAKAR RALLY ENTRIES:

Stephane Peterhansel (F)/Jean-Paul Cottret (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution

Hiroshi Masuoka (J)/Andreas Schulz (D) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution

Luc Alphand (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution

Joan Roma (E)/Henri Magne (F) Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution

Andrea Mayer (D)/Jean-Michel Polato (F) Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up

-mitsubishi-

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Series DAKAR