Mitsubishi's Peterhansel extends Dakar rally lead with first stage win. Peterhansel 15m 33s ahead of nearest non-Mitsubishi Masuoka second overall Biasion loses 17 minutes QUARZAZATE (Marocco) - Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports (MMSP) team ...
Mitsubishi's Peterhansel extends Dakar rally lead with first stage win.
Peterhansel 15m 33s ahead of nearest non-Mitsubishi
Masuoka second overall
Biasion loses 17 minutes
QUARZAZATE (Marocco) - Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports (MMSP) team drivers Stephane Peterhansel, Hiroshi Masuoka and Miki Biasion hold first, second and eighth positions in the 2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally, after a varied 337 kms special stage between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate in Morocco today (Monday).
Peterhansel drove the fastest of the three Mitsubishi Pajero Evolutions to record the Japanese manufacturer's first stage victory on the most difficult section of this year's Dakar Rally to date.
The Frenchman and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret beat team mates Hiroshi Masuoka and Gilles Picard by 4m 35s, after taking the lead mid-way through the section through the Erg Chebbi, south of Erfoud. They now lead their team mates by 6m 12s.
"It was a great stage for me today," said Peterhansel. "Last night I decided that I would push this morning if I felt in the right frame of mind. I know this stage quite well. Around 80% of the terrain has been used on the Rally of Morocco and Mitsubishi and other teams tested cars in this area last summer. I felt happy to press on."
Defending Dakar champion, Masuoka, led through the early section of the stage, but ultimately consolidated his second position in the overall classification with the second fastest time.
Biasion and co-driver Tiziano Siviero finished the stage in eighth place. They had been running in third position after the second passage control, but lost over four minutes. Germany's Andrea Mayer and co-driver Andreas Schulz were classified 14th through the stage and hold a similar position in the overall standings.
"We have made a good start, but this is the Dakar Rally and there are some very difficult days ahead," said MMSP Team Director Dominique Serieys. "Stephane has a 15-minute lead over the third-placed driver, but that is nothing. It is like having a 10s advantage on a WRC rally! There is a long way to go."
Belgian BMW driver Gregoire de Mevius was fifth quickest through the stage and holds third overall, albeit 15m 33s behind Peterhansel in the leading Mitsubishi.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) begins with a 176 kms liaison from Ouarzazate to the competitive start in Foum Zguid and a tricky 351 kms special stage to Foum El Hassan. This is a particularly rocky stage, with several fast twisty sections. A 276 kms liaison passes through the town of Goulimine, en route to the Atlantic coastal town of Tan-Tan in the south of Morocco.