The Argentinean Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero crew of Andres Memi and Daniel Trippar today finished the Por Las Pampas Rally in fourth position, the final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. In the overall standings, Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei became the first Arab driver to win the series, the Dubai driver claiming outright victory in this South American event. Despite focusing on its preparations for the 2005 Dakar Rally, Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports driver St´phane Peterhansel finished second in the series, courtesy of victories in Tunisia and Morocco, while 2003 FIA World Cup Champion Carlos Sousa finished third in his Mitsubishi.
"I was disappointed to miss out on the podium," said Memi, who set the fastest time in the final stage. "It was a long and difficult race. I felt a little disappointed for the organizer that the entry was on the low side, but that was because the FIA World Cup was all but finalized on the last rally. I drove well and would have made the podium on stage times alone, but we were awarded a one-hour time penalty and that dropped us into fourth place."
Memi found himself gripped in a tussle for the final podium position with Hyundai driver Marcelo Lusianzoff. The pair was separated by a mere two minutes after 14 hours of rallying across the remote moonscapes of the Córdoba Province. Memi was second fastest through the fourth stage, held in rain and higher humidity, which resulted in a slippery and muddy surface, but he incurred a one-hour time penalty on the fourth stage and slipped behind his rival. He had the satisfaction of finishing fastest overall in the final stage.
"There were a few kilometers which were difficult, but we did really well thanks to a tire change courtesy of the X-Raid Team," said Memi. "I was able to set a good pace and we had no problems. The rain was not a problem for us. It was disappointing to miss out on the podium though."
The Por Las Pampas Rally, which ran from November 1-6, attracted just 17 starters in the car category and was based in the tourist city of La Cumbre for the first time. After the opening Prologue stage at the Pro Racing Circuit in Malagueño on Monday, the opening leg took crews over a loop stage through remote countryside around La Cumbre. Wednesdays second leg covered another 640 competitive kilometers while Thursday took the crews through another 420 kilometers of competitive competition. On Friday, the crews contested another 426.19 kilometers before the final day today, which took the crews over the final competitive section to the finish back at La Cumbre. In total, the route covered 1,666 competitive kilometers in a total distance of 2,019 kilometers, 25% of which relied on GPS navigation.