For the Patagonia Atacama Rally
The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team continues its 2006 Cross-Country motorsport activities by fielding a pair of Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions in the Patagonia-Atacama Rally, the opening round of the 2006 FIA Cross-Country Rally World
Fresh from finishing first, third and fourth overall in the punishing Dakar Rally, the Pont-de-Vaux-based team will enter the French Dakar-winning crew of Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard in the South American classic, alongside Spaniard Joan ‘Nani' Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne.
The South American event starts in northern Patagonia, Argentina, on Tuesday, March 7th and finishes in northern Chile on Thursday, March 16th.
The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team will send a total of 28 team members to South America for the opening FIA Cross-Country rally of the season. “This will be an important event for our sponsor Repsol YPF in a key market for them and a crucial opportunity for our team to return to a competitive environment before we line-up against our main rivals Volkswagen in the near future,“ said Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys.
“Our complete Cross-Country program for 2006, which includes development of a new MPR13 version of the Pajero Evolution, will be confirmed as soon as we have approval from Mitsubishi Motors in Japan,” said Isao Torii, MMSP's President.
In South America both teams will use two MPR12 versions of the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution, which guided the Japanese manufacturer to a record-breaking sixth successive Dakar win in 2006 and an 11th victory in 24 years.
Former World Downhill Skiing Champion Alphand travels to South America straight from working in a television commentator's role at the Winter Olympics in Turin. Alphand will be rallying in South America for the first time, although he did visit Bariloche in Argentina on several occasions for winter training sessions during his distinguished skiing career.
Roma followed up a win in last year's Baja Spain by finishing third overall in the 2006 Dakar Rally. He tackled last year's Patagonia-Atacama Rally in a Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up and finished fourth overall at his first attempt..
“It is a long and very difficult rally and a good test for our drivers and members of the team. It is very similar to the Dakar in many ways,” added Serieys. “We are expecting there to be a lot more sand dunes this year. Last season we decided to take two older cars to South America – an MPR10 and an L200 Pick-Up – and lost our chance of taklng victory when Stéphane (Peterhansel) clipped a rock, rolled over and eventually finished around 12 minutes behind Bruno Saby. We could have won that race and we intend to make amends this time.“
The Patagonia-Atacama Rally begins in the Argentine town of San Martin de Los Andes on Tuesday, March 7th and finishes on Thursday, March 16th in the northern Chilean town of Iquique.
The organisers have devised an extended route for this year's event and the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team faces a strong local contingent in the vast Patagonia region, along the spine of the magnificent Andes mountain range and the Chilean Pacific coast and on through the Atacama desert – the driest and highest terrain of its kind in the world.
Press Release Mitsubishi Motors