COMMUNIQUE 9
Monday 12 April Leg 7 - RASS EL OUED / TOZEUR - 505 km SS 7 - Matmata / Star Wars - 282 km

MITSUBISHI MOTORS MOTOR SPORTS DRIVER PETERHANSEL
TAKES EMPHATIC WIN IN RALLYE DE TUNISIE
Masuoka pleased with testing data in Tunisia

Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolution
Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret
(Leg 7 - 12 April 2004)

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports driver Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret clinched victory in the seven-day Rallye Optic 2000 Tunisie, rounding off the event with victory through the final competitive section between Ras El Oued and a scenic ’Star Wars’ filming location at Nefta, near Tozeur, today (Monday).

Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution /
Montero Evolution

Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret
with rally organizer Cyril Neveu
(Leg 7 - 12 April 2004)
The 2002 event winner began the morning’s 282 kilometer competitive section with a commanding 69-minute lead over his nearest rival, the UAE’s Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei. 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".

Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution /
Montero Evolution

Hiroshi Masuoka / Gilles Picard
Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret
with MMSP Team Director Dominique Serieys
& five Japanese mechnics
(Leg 7 - 12 April 2004)
"Everybody worked very hard", said MMSP’s Team Director Dominique Serieys. "This was a great result for Mitsubishi, Stéphane, 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. Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret will be joined by a second yet-to-be-announced driver.

THREE RALLIART CUSTOMER CARS INSIDE FINAL TOP TEN

Spaniards José-Luis Monterde and Rafael Tornabell began the final stage in fourth overall and maintained their position to the finish, 40 kilometers from Tozeur.

"I had a big fight with Housieaux today", said Monterde. "Over the last 100 kilometers I eased off a little, because after a jump we had a heavy landing and damaged the front of the car. It was a hard stage for me. I have a headache and a sore neck".

Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero
José-Luis Monterde / Rafael Tornabell
(Leg 7 - 12 April 2004)
Frenchman Dominique Housieaux and Belgian co-driver Jean-Marie Lurquin held sixth position at the start of the final stage and ended the rally in a similar position.

"I drove nearly 150 kilometers behind Monterde before PC2 and after PC3 today", said Housieaux. "We had a good battle. It became quite tactical! The navigation was not easy, but the tracks were fast and I enjoyed the stage".

Poles Lukasz Komornicki and Rafal Marton had moved up to eighth position after the stage from El Borma to Ras El Oued and began the final run into Tozeur in seventh overall. They finished in the same position.

"After the start we damaged the front differential", said Komornicki. "But I managed to finish the stage in a good position, despite the damage. There were no problems with the navigation today".

Overall classification after SS 7>> Go to stage times
  Driver / Co-driver Car Gr/Cl Time Diff.
1 Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2.1.1 21.02.49   
2 Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei / Alain Guehennec BMW X5 2.1.2 22.17.02  + 1.14.13 
3 Stéphane Henrard / Alain Low Volkswagen 2.2.2 22.40.06  + 1.37.17 
4 José-Luis Monterde / Rafael Tornabell Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.1.2 23.33.13  + 2.30.24 
5 Georges Lansac / Jean-Robert Jacquemard Protruck 2.2.1 23.44.30  + 2.41.41 
6 Dominique Housieaux / Jean-Marie Lurquin Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.1.1 23.50.14  + 2.47.25 
7 Lukasz Komornicki / Rafal Marton Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.1.1 23.58.51  + 2.56.02 
8 Jean-François Guinot / Manfred Kroiss Buggy Maxi Raid 2.2.1 24.39.09  + 3.36.20 
9 Isabelle Patissier / Bernard Irissou Nissan Terrano 1.1 24.48.43  + 3.45.54 
10 Alexey Berkut / Nikolaev Anton Nissan Patrol 2.1.1 25.50.33  + 4.47.44 
11 Jean-Pierre Strugo / Pascal Larroque Mercedes ML 430 1.1 25.52.36  + 4.49.47 
12 Konstantin Zhiltsov / Konstantin Mechtcheriakov Mitsubishi Challenger 2.1.1 26.25.38  + 5.22.49 
13 Alexandre Debanne / Marc Joineau Mercedes ML 430 1.1 26.29.29  + 5.26.40 
14 Philippe Vandromme / Loïc Fagot Buggy Bat 2.2.1 26.30.21  + 5.27.32 
15 Thierry Delli-Zotti / Alain Schurger Proto Raimondi Pajero/Montero 2.2.1 26.39.53  + 5.37.04 
16 Helder Oliveira / Maurizio Dominella Nissan Pick Up 2.1.1 27.44.00  + 6.41.11 
.../...
26 Abdellatif Chedly / Hichem Soualmia Mitsubishi L200 2.1.2 29.27.57  + 8.25.08 
31 Hiroshi Masuoka / Gilles Picard Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2.1.1 31.34.26  + 10.31.37 
42 Gil Bonnet / Franck Bonnet Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 1.1 35.35.21  + 14.32.32 
44 Maris Saukans / Didzis Zarins Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.1.1 35.54.06  + 14.51.17 
54 Franco Regalli / Marco Rosso Mitsubishi L200 2.1.2 39.10.05  + 18.07.16 
60 Christian Tricoire / Noël Abel Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 1.2 48.31.18  + 27.28.29 
64 Jean-Pascal Besson / Christophe Courville Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.1.2 49.28.19  + 28.25.30 

Times on SS 7<< Back to overall classification
  Driver / Co-driver Car Gr/Cl Time Diff.
1 Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2.1.1 2.49.02   
2 Hiroshi Masuoka / Gilles Picard Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2.1.1 2.51.29  + 2.27 
3 Dominique Housieaux / Jean-Marie Lurquin Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.1.1 2.53.15  + 4.13 
4 Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei / Alain Guehennec BMW X5 2.1.2 2.54.02  + 5.00 
5 Philippe Gache / Bruno Cattarelli Buggy SMG 2.2.1 2.56.42  + 7.40 
6 Georges Lansac / Jean-Robert Jacquemard Protruck 2.2.1 2.58.19  + 9.17 
7 Lukasz Komornicki / Rafal Marton Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.1.1 2.59.53  + 10.51 
8 José-Luis Monterde / Rafael Tornabell Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.1.2 3.02.02  + 13.00 
9 Maris Saukans / Didzis Zarins Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.1.1 3.05.12  + 16.10 
10 Jean-Pierre Strugo / Pascal Larroque Mercedes ML 430 1.1 3.07.22  + 18.20 
11 Isabelle Patissier / Bernard Irissou Nissan Terrano 1.1 3.07.25  + 18.23 
12 Alexey Berkut / Nikolaev Anton Nissan Patrol 2.1.1 3.07.38  + 18.36 
13 Jean-François Guinot / Manfred Kroiss Buggy Maxi Raid 2.2.1 3.07.55  + 18.53 
14 François Cros / Fabrice Vachard Nissan Terrano 2.1.1 3.13.09  + 24.07 
15 Jacky Bourgin / Gérard Ancement Nissan Pathfinder 2.1.1 3.14.54  + 25.52 
16 Stéphane Henrard / Alain Low Volkswagen 2.2.2 3.15.16  + 26.14 
.../...
22 Abdellatif Chedly / Hichem Soualmia Mitsubishi L200 2.1.2 3.26.16  + 37.14 
26 Konstantin Zhiltsov / Konstantin Mechtcheriakov Mitsubishi Challenger 2.1.1 3.27.09  + 38.07 
44 Jean-Pascal Besson / Christophe Courville Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.1.2 4.01.35  + 1.12.33 
48 Franco Regalli / Marco Rosso Mitsubishi L200 2.1.2 4.08.16  + 1.19.14 
59 Christian Tricoire / Noël Abel Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 1.2 4.32.24  + 1.43.22 
64 Gil Bonnet / Franck Bonnet Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 1.1 5.07.29  + 2.18.27