UAE Desert Challenge : Mitsubishi Motors - Prologue
Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Team drivers Stéphane Peterhansel and Joan 'Nani' Roma completed the opening two kilometer Prologue stage of the 2005 UAE Desert Challenge, adjacent to the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai, in first and
second positions in the car category.
Partnered by their respective co-drivers Jean-Paul Cottret and Henri Magne, the Mitsubishi Motors Team pairing are tackling the final round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup as a final competitive shakedown test for January's Dakar Rally.
They will now head a field of 61 bikes, nine quads, 31 cars and three trucks into the opening timed selective section from Abu Dhabi city to the remote Moreeb outpost on Thursday morning. Peterhansel and Cottret won this event in 2002 and 2003 and have admitted the importance of doing well again this year.
"Since I won the Dakar Rally for a second time with Mitsubishi in January, I have had my fair share of bad luck," said Peterhansel. "So it is important that I take a good finishing position here in the UAE. I had bad luck in Argentina, lost the chance of a win on the final morning in Morocco and didn't manage to win in Spain. So this rally is very important for my confidence. I enjoy this event. The stages in the desert are a good test for me and for the team in preparation for the Dakar."
Spaniard Roma joined the Mitsubishi Motors Team shortly before the Qatar Baja last year and has quickly become a major contender for victory in the next Dakar. The Baja Spain winner was content with his second position on the Prologue.
"I have the MPR10 version of the Mitsubishi, which was used by Luc Alphand to win the recent Baja in Portugal," said Roma. "This event is a great chance for me to get more experience in the car, especially in the sand dunes. This could be crucial on the Dakar."
Tomorrow (Thursday) marks the opening timed selective section in the six-day event across some of the remotest desert terrain in the United Arab Emirates.
Teams will drive from Dubai to the neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi for the official start in front of the luxurious Emirates Palace Hotel, before a 55 kms liaison section takes them to the beginning of a 283 kms timed section, finishing 75 kms away from the overnight bivouac at Moreeb, near Liwa.
This year's UAE Desert Challenge has been extended by one day to six days and will reach a conclusion at the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) on Monday afternoon (November 14th) after 1,583 competitive kilometers through the desert in a total route of 2,260 kms.
Press Release Mitsubishi Motors