Dakar : Mitsubishi Motors - Leg 5
The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team clinched its first stage victory of the 28th Dakar Rally, when Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret guided their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution to the quickest time on the
350 kms special stage between Ouarzazate and Tan Tan, today (Wednesday).
The defending champions moved up from 11th in the overall standings to ninth place, as team mates Luc Alphand and Joan 'Nani' Roma climbed to third and seventh positions, respectively. Spaniard Carlos Sainz continues to lead the event, although his advantage has been substantially trimmed to just 1m 28s.
Peterhansel had begun this morning's stage behind all his major rivals for victory. "I started 14th on the road behind many cars this morning and managed to make good progress," said Peterhansel. "A couple of cars had flat tires and we moved up the field. Tomorrow I will start first on the stage and we will enter Mauritania. The race may well take on a different form from now on. I lost 17 minutes in Morocco yesterday, but now I have a good chance to make up that time over the next few days."
Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard had begun the stage in fourth place in the overall standings and moved up to third overall after setting the fifth fastest time.
Team mates Joan 'Nani' Roma and Henri Magne were third quickest today, after leading at the first passage control, and will now head into the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in seventh place.
"It was not easy and I had to start at the back of the first group of drivers," said Roma. "Mark Miller was in front of me and I was lucky that he was driving quickly. It was not possible to push too much in the dust. Now I think the race will change. It will become very difficult over the next three days and I think that the overall leaderboard will change a lot."
"I was not too unhappy yesterday," said Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys. "Today has been much better. We have not been able to use the true potential of our cars yet, because of the narrow tracks and the risks associated with passing motorbikes in dust. Stéphane will open the track on Thursday. We know this area quite well and it isa fast track, which may also suit the Buggies. Tomorrow is not the only day in Mauritania. There are four days and the stage tomorrow may be the quickest of them all. We will see."
Tomorrow (Thursday) marks the final journey through Morocco before the rally heads across the border into the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Teams will leave Tan Tan - one of the southernmost settlements in Morocco and main centre of the Tarfaya province - in the middle of the night to tackle the first punishing 336 kms liaison section across a remote border control.
The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team will then enter a southerly 444 kms special stage along the western Mauritanian border to a finish 12 kms from the town of Zouérat. The stage is arguably the most difficult so far and features rocky tracks, gravel roads and sand dunes.
Press Release Mitsubishi Motors