Dakar : Mitsubishi Motors - Scrutineering
The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team completed its final pre-Dakar Rally formalities at the Belem Cultural Centre in Lisbon on Thursday morning, prior to the official start of the 28th grueling African classic on Friday (New Year's
Team drivers Stéphane Peterhansel, Luc Alphand, Hiroshi Masuoka and Joan 'Nani' Roma were joined by their respective co-drivers Jean-Paul Cottret, Gilles Picard, Pascal Maimon and Henri Magne to finalise administrative paperwork and ensure that their quartet of Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions passed the organizers' stringent safety and legality checks.
Ahead of the four Mitsubishi teams and a record field of 240 motorcycles, 184 further cars, 80 trucks and 240 assistance vehicles will be 15 special stages, totalling 4,813 kms, in a total route of 9.043 kms. The remainder of the official route through Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Sénégal will constitute road liaison sections. The event finishes at Lac Rose, near Dakar, on Sunday, January 15th.
"It is never easy to win the Dakar for the first time," said Peterhansel. "But our whole team works really well together and I have a great chance to win the race for the third year. We carried out some very positive tests with the new Pajero Evolution over the last few months and I think that we are ready for the battle over the coming days."
Team mate Hiroshi Masuoka knows the importance of a safe start to the rally in Europe. "The Baja Portalegre in October was a great test for the first stage on Saturday," said Masuoka. "It was a difficult special, particularly in the rain. We have the option of mud tires if the weather is bad. I will follow Giniel de Villiers in the stage and be on the track in front of Carlos Sainz, so it will be interesting. I will be cautious, because I would be quite happy with fifth or six place when we cross into Morocco."
"Our team know that it would be stupid to take any risks over the first two days in Portugal, where a mistake could be very costly," said MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys. "We know that the stages can be slippery. It is a time to be cautious. You can lose the Dakar in Portugal, but you cannot win it!"
Tomorrow (Saturday) is the opening leg of the 2006 Dakar Rally and features a potentially treacherous special stage between Lisbon and Portimao on the Algarve. After a road liaison section of 186 kms, the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team will tackle a narrow and winding 83 kms stage in the Alentejo wine region.
Teams will be looking anxiously at the weather forecast to ensure that the correct tires are fitted for the stage. A 101 kms liaison section then takes crews to the overnight halt and a New Year's Eve dinner in the holiday town of Portimao.
Press Release Mitsubishi Motors