Tuesday, 25 June 2024
12 April 2004 - 20:41
Peterhansel takes emphatic win in rally of Tunisia
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Coma-Despres: the battle rages
Optic 2000 Rally Tunisia : Leg 5 - 274 km [10/04/04 - 16:03]

After two days in the dunes around El Borma, the competitors on the Rallye Optic 2000 Tunisie headed north today for Ras El Oued and the second navigation stage of the race, without GPS. In the cars, Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi Pajero Evo II) managed to get lost at the start, but came back hard to win the special, his 4th of the rallye, ahead of his rapid assistance' Masuoka.

In their slipstream, Philippe Gache (SMG Buggy) took third place, ahead of the Honda buggy of Thierry Magnaldi, now up to third overall. On the bikes, the Spaniard Marc Coma (KTM LC4) charged through the pack to not only win the special but also take the overall lead by just 6 seconds over Cyril Despres, 5th on the stage. With only two days to the finish the battle between the two factory KTM riders risks being a hard fought one...

A sand storm in the south of Tunisia complicated the already difficult navigation special, the second of the 23rd Rallye Optic 2000 Tunisie. And if Stephane Peterhansel took the wrong piste early on in the stage he got back on track with vengeance to once again take the special at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Pajero Evo II.

Tucking in behind, Philippe Gache (SMG Buggy) finished third ahead of Thierry Magnaldi, who himself took advantage of a navigation mistake made by Stephane Henrard (VW Tarek Buggy) to move up to third overall. The Frenchman is now only 12 minutes behind the Nissan Pickup of Shinozuka who also got lost today. With only 20 minutes separating Shinozuka, Magnaldi, Henrard and Al Mutawei (BMW X5) the third place on the podium risks to be hotly disputed.

In the T1 class the penalties awarded to Isabelle Patissier (10') and Alexandre Debanne (15') for straying off the ideal route by more than 3,3 km made little impact on the overall rankings, and despite the Mercedes MLs' counterattack today, Patissier and her Nissan remain comfortably in the lead. Penalised for the same reasons, the Russian Mardeev (Kamaz) continues to dominate the truck class.

For the first time a women wins a trucks leg in Cross Country World Cup
Elisabete Jacinto (Renault Kerax Rallye Raid) wins trucks classification in 5th leg of Tunisia Rally.
1. Elisabete Jacinto (Renault Kerax Rallye Raid) - 4h24m51s
2. Rambeau (Mercedes) at +1m48s
3. Mardeev (Kamaz) at +12m01s
4. Panseri (Mercedes) at +18m50s
5. Slaller (Mercedes) at +1h10m32s

In the bikes class Marc Coma continues to impress. The young Spanish rider, won his second African special today, flying over the 5th stage to win the special and take the overall lead from Cyril Despres by just 6 seconds. The battle for final victory promises to be very hard fought... and possibly influenced by their respective team mates and compatriots Richard Sainct and Esteve Pujol...

Not far behind the overall leaders, the 450 class continues to be dominated by Carlo De Gavardo (KTM) with Franck Olmi, in his element on his little XR400 over the more technical going, holding second place. The leader of the quad class since the second stage, Christophe Declerck (Yamaha), saw his race come to an abrupt end when he crashed heavily and fractured his sacrum. He was flown to the organisers medical unit by helicopter in Ras El Oued before being repatriated to Europe.

Press Release
Neveu Pelletier Organisation


Al Mutawei and Henrard fight back
Optic 2000 Rally Tunisia : Leg 6 - 314 km [11/04/04 - 16:42]

Cyril Neveu gave due warning last night that the loop around Rass El Oued would be the toughest stage of the 23rd Rallye Optic 2000 Tunisie. And as it turned out the five times Dakar winner was right on the money. In the cars the clear winner was Khalifa Al Mutawei (BMW X5). Not only did he win the stage, but in doing so jumped from 5th to 2nd place overall, behind the comfortable leader Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi Pajero Evo II).

Second on the special, the Belgian Stephane Henrard (VW Tarek Buggy) also moved up the overall ranking to third. Paying the price for all this movement were the Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka (Nissan Pickup) and Thierry Magnaldi (Honda Buggy), both of whom ran into major transmission problems out on the piste. In the bikes Cyril Despres (KTM LC4) put the overall rankings back in order. Winner of the stage the Frenchman now leads the Spaniard Marc Coma (KTM LC4) by six minutes with just one stage left to go...

Virtually all the competitors agreed that the third navigation stage, with just an electronic compass and a road book, was a great success. Without doubt the 6th stage of the Rallye Optic 2000 Tunisie lived up to all its promise. And if Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi Pajero Evo II) remains rooted at the top of the rankings, the sand storm that kicked off this morning blew away with it the hopes Kenjiro Shinozuka (Nissan Pickup) and Thierry Magnaldi (Honda Buggy). Both ran into major mechanical problems during the special and gave away several hours a piece to the benefit of Khalifa Al Mutawei (BMW X5) and Stephane Henrard (VW Tarek Buggy). These two are now second and third respectively and separated by less than two minutes. The last special to Tozeur risks being very closely fought!

In T1 it was the Nissan Pathfinder of Jacky Bourgin who won the special ahead of the Mercedes MLs of Jean Pierre Strugo and Alexandre Debanne. Fourth on the stage, Isabelle Patissier (Nissan Pathfinder) nevertheless conserves her overall lead by more than 30 minutes. In the trucks the Kamaz of Russian Mardeev finished 23rd overall to increase his overall lead.

On two wheels Cyril Despres (KTM LC4) found the instructions for his calculator.

The World Champion attacked hard throughout the special to retake the overall lead by a 6 minute margin. Guided by his compatriot and team mate Esteve Pujol (KTM LC4), Marc Coma hasn't however given up yet. The young Spaniard has promised to put the pressure on the Frenchman all the way to the final finish line. For his part Richard Sainct (KTM LC4) also needs to watch out for Esteve Pujol who is menacing his third place overall. Ninth on the stage and second in the 450 class, behind the KTM of the Chilean of De Gavardo, Franck Olmi (Honda XR400) has also promised to do all he can tomorrow to get in to the top three on the last special.

Press Release
Neveu Pelletier Organisation


Peterhansel and Despres : champagne !
Optic 2000 Rally Tunisia : Leg 7 - 281 km [12/04/04 - 16:03]

A few sand dunes over from where Georges Lucas filmed Star Wars, Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi Pajero Evo II) and Cyril Despres (KTM LC4) took the final chequered flag for the first rounds of the FIA World Cup and the FIM World Championship respectively. Leader since the first day, Peterhansel took his 4 stage win of the rallye, to win by almost one and a quarter hours ahead of Al Mutawei (BMW X5) and the Belgian Stephane Henrard (VW Tarek Buggy), who fought for second place until the last kilometres.

For Cyril Despres it was his first victory on the Rallye Optic 2000 Tunisie, after coming second last year, the reigning World Champion winning by just over 3 minutes ahead of Marc Coma (KTM LC4). Third was Despres's team mate Richard Sainct (KTM LC4)

If Peterhansel started this morning with an almost unassailable lead, only two minutes separated Khalifa Al Mutawei and Stephane Henrard. Coming up behind the BMW X5, the VW Buggy managed to briefly get past, before falling victim to a puncture. Coming across the final finish line just behind Mutawei, Peterhansel couldn't hide his joy. One year after having had his victory snatched away from him, when his car caught fire on the last stage, the ex-motorcyclists took his third consecutive victory, after Dubai and the Dakar.

In T1 Isabelle Patissier (Nissan Pathfinder), second in her class on the last Dakar, became the first woman to win a round of the World Cup in the production class. After a long battle with the Mercedes ML of Alexandre Debanne, the charming Isabelle impressed with her tactical skill. Victim of a roll on this last special, Debanne gave away is second pace to his team mate Jean-Pierre Strugo. Only factory' truck entered in T4, the Kamaz of the Russian Mardeev won relatively easily, while behind him the Portuguese lady driver Elisabete Jacinto and the Frenchwoman Aline Rambeau fought a spirited duel.

On two wheels the Italian Matteo Graziani (KTM LC4) won the special, while Cyril Despres and Marc Coma fought it out for final victory. With nothing to lose, the Spaniard attacked right from the start and was momentarily virtually' in the lead before running into fuel supply problems. At the finish Despres won by 3 minutes ahead of the uncontested revelation of the 23rd Rallye Optic 2000 Tunisie. With 3 stage wins and second place overall the young Spaniard appears to have been inspired by his best friend Nani Roma.

Held back by bad luck and mechanical problems over the first half of the rallye, Richard Sainct (KTM LC4) completed the podium. With nine bikes in the top ten overall, KTM also took victory in the 450 category, with the Chilean Carlo De Gavardo beating Franck Olmi on his XR400, 10th overall. In the production class victory went to the Mexican Pedro De Uriarte, while Jean Philippe Caillet won the quad class ahead of the Tunisian Rhida Mehnni.

Press Release
Neveu Pelletier Organisation


Peterhansel takes emphatic win in rally of Tunisia
Optic 2000 Rally Tunisia : Mitsubishi Motors Team - Finish [12/04/04 - 16:22]

Masuoka pleased with testing data in Tunisia.

Tozeur (Tunisia) Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports team driver Stphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret clinched victory in the seven-day Rally of Tunisia, by finishing first overall through the final selective section between Ras El Oued and a scenic 'Star Wars' filming location at Nefta, near Tozeur, today (Monday).

The 2002 event winner began the morning's 282 kms competitive section with a commanding 69-minute lead over his nearest rival, the UAE's Khalifa Al-Motaiwi. He eventually beat the BMW driver by a margin of 1h 14m 13s.

"Last year's Rally of Tunisia was my third consecutive disappointment and now, 12 months later, this is my third win in three major rallies," enthused Peterhansel. "It is a great feeling. This was not the hardest of races for me, because after two days I had a big advantage. But it is easy to lose concentration when you are not pushing to the limit. Today's stage had difficult navigation, but it was not a real problem."

Japanese team mate Hiroshi Masuoka and French co-driver Gilles Picard shadowed Peterhansel to the finish of today's section in the second Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution. They lost their chance of taking a podium placing after clutch problems on the first stage last week and finished second overall through the final stage.

"My rally was over after the first day," said Masuoka. "But it was a good chance for the team to test the cars. It was not an easy rally. Some of the stages were difficult and the navigation was tricky. It was a case of being careful today and making sure that the team took a top result."

"Everybody worked very hard," said MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys. "This was a great result for Mitsubishi, Stphane, Jean-Paul and the whole team. I feel upset for Hiroshi and Gilles, because the problems they had on the first day gave them no chance to challenge for the win.”

"We used the rally to carry out extensive testing with new tires, brakes, dampers and shock absorbers and this was a very useful exercise. Only a race environment can prove whether the revisions we have made are successful. It was a nice rally. The stages were more difficult than last year and the sand storms and sections without GPS made it that much tougher."

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports Team's next event will be the Orpi Rally of Morocco at the start of June. Stephane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret will be joined by a second yet-to-be-announced driver.

Press Release
Mitsubishi Motors Team


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