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Peterhansel cruises into 26-minute lead
UAE Desert Challenge : Mitsubishi Motors - Leg 1
Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Team drivers Stephane Peterhansel and Joan 'Nani' Roma completed the first 282.70 kms desert stage of this year's UAE Desert Challenge in first and third positions, with Peterhansel cruising into a
26-minute overall lead in the general classification.

The twice Dakar Rally winner and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret led from the start of the stage and now have a commanding lead. Team mates Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne lost time in soft sand before the first passage control and were then forced to stop on two further occasions when Roma was overcome by stomach problems and sickness.

"I would not say the stage was any harder than last year, but it was not easy," said Peterhansel. "It was very fast at the beginning. There was a fast track, with some dune crossings, but the sand was not too soft and I found the day quite okay. I have a really good feeling about the car. The engine, the suspension, the balance, they all feel really good."

But Roma had endured his fair share of problems. "I made a small mistake and lost a few minutes stuck in the soft sand before the first passage control, but then I started to feel unwell. It was terrible. I had cramps in my stomach and there was no alternative but to stop. I stopped on two occasions."

Such was the dominance of Peterhansel's factory Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution on this opening stage, that the Frenchman will begin day two 26m 26s clear of the second-placed BMW X5 of Spaniard Josť-Luis Monterde and Italian co-driver Tiziano Siviero.

Cars were flagged away from the official start in Abu Dhabi this morning and the Mitsubishi Team duo led the car entry into the desert, courtesy of their two fastest times on the timed Prologue stage on Wednesday evening.

Tomorrow (Friday) is the second leg of this year's UAE Desert Challenge and teams will tackle two timed selective sections in a loop-stage format around the Moreeb bivouac, near Liwa. The opening section will run for 134 kms and the second longer selective of 210 kms will return teams to the finish control just outside the bivouac. The event will finish back in Dubai on Monday afternoon.

Positions after leg 1(unofficial)
1 Peterhansel-Cottret Mitsubishi Pajero 2h37'37
2 Monterde-Siviero BMW X5 3h03'03
3 Roma-Magne Mitsubishi Pajero 3h07'11
4 Al Helai-Al Kendi Chevrolet Pick-Up 3h20'01
5 Bin Soughat-Al Balooshi Chevrolet Pick-Up 3h26'39
Press Release Mitsubishi Motors

     Peterhansel and Roma take first and second places
     Desert Challenge sets pace in Rally World Cup
     Lohr aims to make her mark on Desert Challenge
     Volkswagen in testing marathon
     Peterhansel seeks third UAE win
     Mitsubishi set for UAE desert challenge
     Mitsubishi driver Luc Alphand wins Baja Portalegre
     Accomplished debut for new Race Touareg 2
     Carlos Sousa third-fastest on final special stage
     Jutta Kleinschmidt in second place

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