Mitsubishi and Peterhansel win the opening stage of the 2003 Dakar Rally. Five Mitsubishis inside the top ten. Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret won the opening special stage of the 2003 Telefonica Dakar Rally in their Mitsubishi Pajero...
Mitsubishi and Peterhansel win the opening stage of the 2003 Dakar Rally. Five Mitsubishis inside the top ten.
Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret won the opening special stage of the 2003 Telefonica Dakar Rally in their Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution. The French duo beat their nearest rivals by 17s, as Mitsubishi Motors team mates Hiroshi Masuoka, "Miki" Biasion and Jean-Pierre Fontenay completed the 43 kms special stage, across dusty and foggy mountain tracks, near Ch?teau Lastours, in third, sixth and eighth places overall.
"I didn't really push that hard this morning", said Peterhansel. "I found a nice rhythm. With about 10 kms of the stage to go I saw (Kenjiro) Shinozuka's dust and realised that I had set a competitive time".
Masuoka and co-driver Andreas Schulz, at the wheel of the second Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution, completed the stage behind the South African Giniel de Villiers. "The surface was very slippery", said Masuoka. "The track was narrow and it was too risky to push hard so early in the race with so much at stake".
Italians "Miki" Biasion and Tiziano Siviero were pleased with their sixth fastest time. "It was okay this morning. The track was quite tight and I was not in the mood to take risks", said Biasion.
Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Gilles Picard finished the special stage behind seventh-placed Mitsubishi driver Carlos Sousa in the Mitsubishi L200 Strakar. "I was following behind a slower car for a short time and this cost me some vital seconds", said Fontenay.
A short service stop followed the stage, near Roquefort des Corbi?res, before the Mitsubishi Motors Team began the 510 kms road section across the border into Spain and on to the overnight halt at Castellon.
Friday's third section begins with a five-kilometre liaison section to the start of a sandy eight kilometre special stage near Castellon. An 82 kms liaison takes the Dakar caravan into Valencia and an afternoon spent arranging pre-boarding formalities for the Mediterranean sea crossing to Tunis.
The entire Dakar entry of bikes, cars, trucks and assistance vehicles will then spend two nights and one day at sea.