Morocco : Mitsubishi Motors - Preview
The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team will send three Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions to next week's Orpi Rally of Morocco, round three of the 2006 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, which starts in Erfoud on Wednesday, May 31st.
The French duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret will be joined by Spaniard Joan ‘Nani' Roma and Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne and Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka and French co-driver Pascal Maimon in MPR12 versions of the Japanese manufacturer's all-conquering off-road vehicles. Team drivers Luc Alphand and Peterhansel have already won this year's Dakar, Patagonia-Atacama and Tunisia rallies.
“We know the area around Erfoud very well,” said Peterhansel, who led until the final stage in Morocco last year and was the winner of the rally in 2004. “For the last three years Mitsubishi has used the region for its summer and autumn testing and development programs. As we head south the stages around Ouarzazate are likely to be more difficult and I know from past experience that punctures can be a major risk on the big rocks and sharp stones.
“I am pleased that Cyril Neveu and his organising team have decided to use this part of the country after two years starting in Agadir and using stages in the south. Cyril deserves credit for always coming up with a new and innovative route where possible. At Mitsubishi we know that it will not be easy to win in Morocco this year.
Our rivals have closed the gap and it is no longer possible to play a waiting game and plan your attack on a given day. To win in Morocco this year we will all need to be competitive from the start of the very first stage.”
Team mate Masuoka needs a good result in Morocco to maintain his confidence. “The Moroccan stages of this year's Dakar Rally were the closest of the entire race,” said Masuoka. “I was forced to retire from the event there, but we know that are rivals are very competitive on these stages and this event will be important to us to assess our improvement and the progress of our rivals.”
Spaniard ‘Nani' Roma came within a few kilometers of recording his second victory for the Mitsubishi team earlier this month on the Transiberico Rally. Roma is probably the most improved driver in the championship and has belied his relative lack of experience of rallying on four-wheels. Bearing in mind he only switched from motorcycles to cars at the end of 2004, Roma will be one of the favourites for a podium finish in Morocco.
This year's Orpi Rally of Morocco will see the Mitsubishi Ralliart Team come face-to-face with a pair of Volkswagen Race Touaregs, driven by Carlos Sainz and 2003 event winner Giniel de Villiers. Former winner Jean-Louis Schlesser is also entered in a Ford-engined Buggy and former Mitsubishi driver Carlos Sousa makes his first appearance in a Phoenix Sport VW.
After scrutineering in the eastern town of Erfoud on Tuesday, May 30th, the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team will embark upon the opening 310 km loop stage around Erfoud on Wednesday, May 31st. The second 475 kms leg takes teams from Erfoud to Ain Beni Mathar and the third 479 kms leg returns to Erfoud.
The route then heads in a southerly direction towards the town of Zagora and on to the popular tourist city of Ouarzazate on Sunday, June 4th. The sixth and final stage of the event is a 311 kms loop around Ouarzazate, with the event drawing to a conclusion on Monday, June 5th.
Press Release Mitsubishi Motors