DAKAR: Mitsubishi Motors Team summary 2003-01-05

Mitsubishi Motors Team holds first, second and fifth places in Dakar Rally ER RACHIDIA (Marocco) - Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports (MMSP) team drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Miki Biasion and Hiroshi Masuoka held first, second and fifth places in...

Mitsubishi Motors Team holds first, second and fifth places in Dakar Rally

ER RACHIDIA (Marocco) - Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports (MMSP) team drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Miki Biasion and Hiroshi Masuoka held first, second and fifth places in the overall classification of the 2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally, after the 75 kms special stage between Tanger and Er Rachidia in Morocco on Sunday.

Frenchman Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret finished the first African stage of this year's Dakar a mere 10 seconds behind Finland's stage winner Ari Vatanen in a Nissan bakkie. The latter collected a record 50th Dakar Rally stage win.

"Ari won yesterday's special stage and I will start behind him on the longer stage today," said Peterhansel. "This is good for me, because he will open the road for the cars and I will have Miki running just behind me as well. It will be the first of the really competitive African stages - a good test."

The Frenchman's Mitsubishi Motors team mate Biasion and co-driver Tiziano Siviero finished yesterday's stage in third position in the second of the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolutions and they lie 1m 07s behind 'Peter' in the overall results.

Defending Dakar champion Hiroshi Masuoka and co-driver Gilles Picard were fifth on yesterday's Moroccan stage and lie a mere 1m 37s behind the leaders in the third factory Pajero Evolution.

German lady Andrea Mayer and her co-driver Andreas Schulz finished the stage in 12th position and retained a similar placing in the overall standings.

"Yesterday's short stage was not the most difficult challenge for a driver," said Mayer. "But it offered a mixture a sandy tracks and muddy conditions. I was running behind Jutta (Kleinschmidt) and caught her tracks, but then I dropped back again over the last section of the stage to be on the safe side."

"There was no need for our drivers to push yesterday," said MMSP Team Director Dominique Serieys. "We have two drivers in the first two places and Hiroshi and Andrea are running well. It was a short stage. I am quite happy with everything so far."

The Mitsubishi Motors Team and the entire Dakar caravan spent Sunday night at the military garrison town of Er Rachidia, which is renowned for its lush palm groves, natural springs and stunning volcanic landscapes.

Today is the longest special stage thus far between Er Rachidia and the bivouac in Ouarzazate - the 'Gateway to the South'. After a 56 kms liaison, the stage crosses rocky tracks and the notorious dunes of the Erg Chebbi en route to a finish in Tazzarine. A second 182 kms liaison guides teams into the bivouac. Sections of this stage were used on the Rally of Morocco in June last year.

-www.mitsubishi-motors.co.za

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Series Dakar
Drivers Hiroshi Masuoka , Stéphane Peterhansel , Miki Biasion , Ari Vatanen , Andrea Mayer