Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolutions Joint Fourth and Seventh After European Dakar Stages. Peterhansel second in competitive section After two European competitive sections of the 2005 TelefÃ³nica Dakar Rally, the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS...
Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolutions Joint Fourth and Seventh After
European Dakar Stages.
Peterhansel second in competitive section
After two European competitive sections of the 2005 Telefónica Dakar Rally, the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios crew of Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret hold equal fourth position in their Pajero / Montero Evolution. Team-mates Luc Alphand and Hiroshi Masuoka overnight just two seconds adrift in equal seventh.
From the overnight halt in Granada, shadowed by the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the crews made the short liaison section to the Armilla gravel stage for the second 10 kilometer competitive section.
Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret powered their Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution through the section second fastest to stage victor and overnight leader Colin McRae, the Scot taking a one-second advantage into Africa. The French duo now overnight equal fourth overall.
"It was a nice stage with a lot of spectators", said Peterhansel. "But there could be problems for the cars running behind because the track was getting softer and cutting up quite badly".
Team-mates Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard claimed equal fifth in the section to hold joint seventh alongside double Dakar Rally winner Hiroshi Masuoka.
"I had a discussion with Gilles and we thought about a strategy for the next couple of days", said Alphand. "The second stage in Morocco will be narrow and there will be no real places to overtake. So, perhaps, we will push a little on Monday after Rabat to ensure that we take a position inside the top five or six. The top few cars are sure to push, so there should be no risk of being held up in dust".
Hiroshi Masuoka and German co-driver Andreas Schulz set eighth fastest time through the stage in Granada.
"I heard that the stage would be dry and dusty", said Masuoka. "There has been no rain in this area for a long time, so I was pleased to be running second on the road because of the risk of dust. It was a nice stage and we had no problems".
German lady driver Andrea Mayer, who is competing in a Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up, completed the stage in 17th place and holds the same position overall. "The dust was a problem for me", said Mayer. "It was hanging in the air and you were into a corner before you had time to react properly".
Spanish team-mate Joan Roma, who is competing for the first time on the Dakar in a Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution, soaked up the local atmosphere and took 19th fastest time in his second-ever rally in a car. Last year's Dakar motorcycle winner now holds 19th overall.
From Granada, the Dakar convoy heads south to the Port of Algeciras for the short ferry journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Tangier. A road section then takes them to the familiar city of Rabat, the commercial capital of Morocco, for the overnight halt. Tomorrow then sees the first action on the African continent and the traditional stages for which the Dakar is renowned. From Rabat, the crews embark on a 122 kilometer liaison section to the start of the 123 competitive kilometer section towards Agadir. After powering over twisty tracks on a wide range of tricky surfaces, the crews then make the long 421 kilometer liaison to the overnight halt in Agadir.
Housieaux lead the Mitsubishi Ralliart customers into Africa
Frenchmen Dominique Housieaux and co-driver Loic Fagot lead the Mitsubishi Ralliart customer team assault after the third leg of the Dakar Rally, the Pajero / Montero crew 25th overall. However, regular challengers Klever Kolberg/Roldan Lourival were fastest of the Ralliart customers through the stage, the Brazilians 21st in similar machinery. They hold 26th position overall, just one second adrift of their team-mates.
Multiple Polish Rally Champion Krzysztof Holowczyc felt much happier after the run south towards Morocco, his initial worries in the opening leg behind him. "I asked the mechanics to check through the car after the first stage because I thought the engine was very noisy", he said. "Now I feel much better. There was a small engine problem, which is now okay, and the long road section to Granada on Saturday was a good test that there were no problems any more".
China's Guan Yuang Men was delighted with his performance on the European stages. He was provisionally 31st through the stage and holds 35th in his Pajero / Montero. "I have enjoyed these two stages", he said. "There is still room for improvement, but I am driving quicker than I did in Dubai".
Thailand's Pornsawan Siriwattanakun was impressed with the performance of his Mitsubishi Truck Evolution and holds 41st overall.
There was however disappointment for Francisco Inocencio, the Portuguese driver badly delayed in the opening leg of the event. Problems with the diesel pressure pump prevented them starting the first stage in Barcelona and despite frantic efforts by the Ralliart mechanics, he and co-driver J¨rgen Masal were forced to retire.