Dakar: Mitsubishi stage four report

Peterhansel Powers To Second Overall After First African Stage Alphand climbs to fourth in the Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution The Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution crew of Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret have powered up the ...

Peterhansel Powers To Second Overall After First African Stage
Alphand climbs to fourth in the Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution

The Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution crew of Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret have powered up the leaderboard into second overall after the first competitive section of the 2005 Telefónica Dakar Rally on African soil.

Team-mates Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard are just one minute and 24 seconds adrift in fourth position, while Hiroshi Masuoka and Joan 'Nani' Roma hold 14th and 15th positions respectively in the other Pajero / Montero Evolutions.

The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team's support driver Andrea Mayer lies 17th in her L200 Pick-Up at the end of the fourth leg of this 16-day event.

Today's 123 competitive kilometer section marked the first on African soil and, although short in Dakar terms, was nevertheless a tricky and technical test for the crews.

Fog added to the challenge and, while the car crews were delayed waiting for the mist to rise and the safety helicopters to fly, the bike competitors at the head of the field were forced to ride it as a liaison section for safety reasons.

Twisty narrow tracks offered little overtaking opportunities and while navigation in the first part was relatively straight-forward, the landscape in the second half of the stage called for skill and concentration.

Stéphane Peterhansel claimed second position in the stage, 53 seconds adrift of winner and outright leader Robby Gordon. He will start tomorrow's leg just 59 seconds adrift of the American Volkswagen driver.

Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution team-mates Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard were hot on Peterhansel's heels to claim fourth in the stage and the same position overall.

Double Dakar Rally winner Hiroshi Masuoka and co-driver Andreas Schulz lost more than seven minutes in the stage with a flat tire and drop down the leaderboard from seventh to 14th overall.

Joan 'Nani' Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne completed the stage in 14th position and are just behind their team-mates in 15th overall. Andrea Mayer, who celebrated her birthday in Rabat yesterday, maintains 17th position in her role as the team's rapid support driver in a Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up.

"I told our drivers not to push and to drive in a restrained and sensible manner over the first two African stages", admitted Team Director Dominique Serieys. "There is more to lose than gain by pushing too hard. We learned from the Rally of Morocco in June that it is easy to get a flat tire on these stages. Admittedly, the temperatures were much higher in the summer, but the rocks are very sharp and we had a catalogue of punctures on the rally last summer".

"I have been pleased with the performance of all the team so far. I have spoken to each driver in turn and they have a strategy. 'Nani' Roma has begun very well. I told him that if he feels confident then he can push harder after Smara, but I want him to feel completely comfortable behind the wheel first".

Tomorrow's leg takes the crews south from Agadir to Smara for the second of only two competitive sections in Morocco and the toughest of the event to date. After a 240 kilometer liaison to the start of the 381 competitive kilometer stage in Guelmin, the route offers a mix of high and low speed action, partly over rough and very rocky terrain. It is likely to be a telling stage where initial supremacy is established...

Holowczyc leaps 10 places to lead Mitsubishi Ralliart customers

Multiple Polish Rally Champion Krzysztof Holowczyc and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marc Fortin were on stunning form today and leapt 10 places up the leaderboard to head the Mitsubishi Ralliart customers in Africa.

The Polish Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero driver finished 19th in the stage to climb from 29th to 19th overall in just one stage.

Team-mates Dominique Housieaux and Loïc Fagot were classified 23rd through the stage but also climb the leaderboard into 22nd position.

Brazilians Klever Kolberg and Roldan Lourival hold 27th place, all in similar machinery.

Thailand's Pornsawan Siriwattanakun and Pornthep Sukafuta were 52nd in the stage with their Mitsubishi Truck Evolution and occupy the same position in the overall classification.

Chinese driver Guan Yuang Men completed the day's timed section in 53rd position but slips down the leaderboard to 46th overall.

"The logistics of the first three days meant that there was little competition but a lot of road distance for the teams and the mechanics", said Ralliart Team Manager Jürgen Masal.

"Our last car arrived in the Rabat bivouac at 03.15 hrs this morning and, to ensure that we gave the cars a full service, our mechanics worked through the night".

"The important thing for us is to make sure that the cars are serviced efficiently, but I want to make sure that the team do not get too tired early in the race, because there are some very difficult sections to come".


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Luc Alphand , Henri Magne , Hiroshi Masuoka , Andreas Schulz , Stéphane Peterhansel , Jean-Paul Cottret , Gilles Picard , Klever Kolberg , Roldan Lourival , Andrea Mayer , Dominique Housieaux , Loïc Fagot , Krzysztof Holowczyc , Jean-Marc Fortin , Pornthep Sukafuta