Dakar: Mitsubishi stage 3 report

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret lead the 2004 Telefónica Dakar Rally as it heads from European soil on to the African continent. The French Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution driver...

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret lead the 2004 Telefónica Dakar Rally as it heads from European soil on to the African continent. The French Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution driver finished third on today’s Spanish stage to overhaul Josep-Maria Servia for the outright lead by five seconds.

Team-mates "Miki" Biasion and Hiroshi Masuoka hold station in fifth and sixth positions respectively, while Germany’s Andrea Mayer has climbed from an overnight 15th to 12th.

Today’s third leg saw the crews tackle the last of the short European stages and gave a teasing taste of the sand to come, as the nine kilometer section hugged the shores of the Valencia Gulf and finished on the beach at Costa Azahar, near Castellón.

Now, the crews start the long 820 kilometer liaison section to the Mediterranean port of Algeciras where the whole convoy will board the ferry for a short crossing to Tangier, Morocco, for the overnight halt.

"That was the last stage in Europe and once we have driven the long road section the whole team can look forward to Africa", commented Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports Team Director Dominique Serieys.

Peterhansel and Cottret started from an overnight second position, just three seconds adrift of Servia, but third position in this second competitive section - behind stage winner Giniel de Villiers and second-placed Grégoire de Mevius - was enough for the French crew to power their Pajero / Montero Evolution into the lead as the crews now begin the long journey to Algeciras.

Italian former World Rally Champion "Miki" Biasion, co-driven by Tiziano Siviero, was equal seventh in the stage alongside Britain’s Colin McRae, the 1995 World Rally Champion who is contesting his first-ever Dakar Rally. Biasion maintains his fifth position overall in the second of three Pajero / Montero Evolutions in the top six.

Team-mate and double Dakar Rally winner Hiroshi Masuoka claimed equal fourth in the stage and he and French co-driver Gilles Picard also maintain their sixth position going to Africa.

Andrea Mayer, who celebrated her 36th birthday in Castellon yesterday, climbed up the leaderboard today and she and former Dakar Rally winning co-driver Andreas Schulz now hold 12th position overall in their Pajero / Montero.

Sunday’s fourth leg marks the first on African soil, but by Dakar standards it is still a short stage at 75 kilometers. A long 233 kilometer liaison section takes the crews to the start of the Tangier-Er Rachidia stage, a fast, twisty and sandy route partly through the Mamoora Forest, near the town of Rabat. After this, a 444 kilometer road section takes the crews into the overnight bivouac.

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Series Dakar
Drivers Colin McRae , Hiroshi Masuoka , Andreas Schulz , Stéphane Peterhansel , Jean-Paul Cottret , Gilles Picard , Giniel de Villiers , Andrea Mayer , Gregoire de Mevius , Josep-Maria Servia