06 June 2004 - 07:29
Rallye Orpi Maroc: Peterhansel clinch victory for Mitsubishi
Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret gave the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports Team an emphatic victory in the five-day Orpi Rally of Morocco, which finished in Agadir today.
Peterhansel, who had already won the Dakar and Tunisia rallies this season, began the final two stages between Oued Chebika and Agadir with a 26m 30s advantage over his nearest rival Jean-Louis Schlesser and went on to win the event for the first time in a car by 23m 36s.
The success also marked Mitsubishi's first victory in the five-year history of the NPO-organised event in Morocco and gave Peterhansel the outright lead in the FIA World Cup Drivers‘ Championship.
This was a perfect race for me, said Peterhansel. This is my fourth successive win and I feel very happy. Both Jean-Paul and I were confident this morning. We were relaxed and drove slowly to make sure we had no problems.
Defending FIA World Cup champion Carlos Sousa and his Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne finished third overall in the second Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution, despite coming under pressure from Volkswagen's Jutta Kleinschmidt on the final stage. The former Mitsubishi driver closed to within 58 seconds of Sousa after beating him by over four minutes in the sixth section.
I lost time to Jutta on the first stage and needed to push a little in the second one, said Sousa. It was a nice day and I was pleased to finish third here. It was a challenging rally, but a podium place was what I wanted.
Germany's Andrea Mayer and co-driver Andreas Schulz completed their second competitive appearance of the season in 10th position in a Mitsubishi L200 Pick- Up, despite two time-consuming incidents earlier in the week where Schulz was forced to repair a broken rear wheel knuckle. They also suffered minor electrical problems today and a replacement battery was fitted at the assistance point.
It was a disappointing day with the battery problem, said Mayer. It cost us more time, but I enjoyed my experience in the L200 and this will stand me in good stead for the future.
It is never easy to win a race and we have won this weekend with no problems with the cars, said MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys. The gap between the teams is getting closer each race and we will work over the next four months to make sure that we are ready for Dakar. Both Carlos and Andrea are still young and learning. Stéphane and Hiroshi (Masouka) are now driving at a very high level and the others will need to work to reach this position.
It was not easy, but I feel very satisifed with the team's performance, said Sven Quandt, MMSP's Head of Motorsport. There were no incidents and the cars performed very well. We know we have to work hard to keep the lead, but that is what we expect.
Today‘s final selective offered two competitive sections; the first 179 kms track headed from Tan Tan to a finish at Sidi Ifni, while the second 60 kms section began on the beach at Aglou and finished in the fishing village of Tifnit.
The next round of the 2004 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup takes place in Spain in July. The event is also a round of the FIA European Baja Cup for Drivers.
Ralliart Teams :
Dominique Housieaux and co-driver Loic Fagot finished fifth in the overall classification, after completing today's two stages in eighth and seventh positions.
The car was perfect, said Housieaux, who won the FIA World Cup's T2 category with Jean-Paul Cottret back in 1994. It was difficult in the first stage and we had a puncture, but I enjoyed the final section and am pleased with my result.
Spanish team mates Jose-Luis Monterde and Rafael Tornabell were classified 14th overall after the final two stages into Agadir.
We lost some time in the dust behind slower cars, said Monterde. I was not going to push too hard though, because there were so many big stones and I wanted to avoid a puncture.
Mitsubishi Motors [06/06/04 - 18:28]