Automotive Press Releases Friday January 7, 2005 12:10
Bangkok--Jan 7--Asatsu Thailand

Today's leg saw the Dakar Rally hit the dunes for the first of six stages in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. A 121 kilometer liaison took the crews from Smara to the Mauritanian border and the start of the 492 competitive kilometer stage. Nearly 245 kilometers of rapid pistes followed before reaching the dunes and absolute skill behind the wheel and top navigation come into play.

The Mitsubishi Team moved back into contention for victory in the 26th Dakar Rally by setting the first, second and fourth fastest times through the 492 kms special stage in the north-west of Mauritania today (Wednesday). Frenchman Luc Alphand and co-driver Gilles Picard with their car Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution number 312 moved up to second place in the Dakar Rally with total time 9h 23m 11s, after setting the fourth fastest time today, behind Peterhansel and Frenchman Bruno Saby.

Frenchman St?phane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret with Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution number306 held third position through the second passage control into Zouerat after starting the day in 14th overall and set the overall fastest time to move back up to fifth overall. The defending Dakar champion began today's stage still suffering from the effects of influenza and was forced to borrow a wheel off team mate Joan Roma before the start of the special stage.

"I had three Volkswagens in front of me on the stage into Smara," said Alphand. "It is not worth the risk to overtake them on narrow tracks when there is such a long way to go. I saved my car through Morocco so we are in good shape for the next few days. I would have been happy with my current position if you had given me this in Spain."

"We still have a lot of time to get back into contention for the victory. We will see on Saturday night what the situation is. For me the key will be Friday and Saturday. It is not a small gap to close, but it is possible. Now we will change the strategy for Hiroshi. He will become a really fast service car and provide good support for Luc and St?phane, said MMSP Team Manager Dominique Seriyes.

Hence the Mitsubishi Ralliart Team has altogether 8 teams at the beginning, since Thai Team left at stage 5. The French duo of Dominique Housieaux and Loic Fagot led Mitsubishi Pajero number 331 of the Ralliart teams across the border into the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in 20th place and were classified 15th overall with total 10h 26m 31s at the end of the day. Chinese driver Guan Yuang Men began the first Mauritania stage in 58th position with French co-driver Serge Henninot and their Mitsubishi Pajero V60 number 373 with total time 13h 46m 21s.

Tomorrow is the longest stage of the rally and most difficult of the event so far, a 660 kilometer Marathon section from Zou?rat to the remote oasis at Tichit. The stage passes through the El-Ghallaouiya Pass, crosses a complex of small dunes at El Mrayer and is followed by several hundred kilometers of camel grass and fast, rutted tracks. As with all Marathon stages, Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team crews will have to undertake all mechanical repairs to their vehicles without the assistance of team technicians at the Tichit overnight halt, before heading into a 520km stage the day following along the fast sinuous tracks towards Tidjikja.

Regarding Pornsawan's dianogsis and his backache since January 3rd, 2005, today at 2.00pm his team and himself is arriving Bangkok and leave to his hometown in Lam Pang for recovered himself.

For Motor Sports Thai fans that want to catch up with 'Telefonica Barcelona-Dakar 2005', please follow up a review programme from Television of Thailand Channel 11 (TV 11) on 01.00 – 01.30am every night from now until January 16th, 2005. Furthermore, every free television channel is going to broadcast a short report on Daily Sports News (TV 3, 5, 7, 9, and iTV), and/or,

For more information please contact
Asatsu Thailand Co.,Ltd
24th Floor Sirinrat Building,
Rama 4 Road, Klongton, Klongtoey
BKK 10110 Thailand
0 2367 5951 ext 3302 0 2367 5946, or
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