COMMUNIQUE 7
Friday 15 October Leg 5 - “Haleeba” and "Khatam" Moreeb - Dubai Mina Seyahi- 305 km

MITSUBISHI PAJERO / MONTERO EVOLUTION DRIVER HIROSHI MASUOKA
CLAIMS VICTORY IN THE UAE DESERT CHALLENGE
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports confirms Dakar Rally potential
Stéphane Peterhansel finishes eighth and completes valuable test

Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolution
Hiroshi Masuoka / Andreas Schulz
(Final Podium - 15 October 2004)

The Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution crew of Hiroshi Masuoka and Andreas Schulz claimed a maiden victory in the UAE Desert Challenge today, winning the event by a margin of 13 minutes and 14 seconds over Grégoire de Mevius. The Japanese Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports driver set two fastest stage times from the four sections run in his first competitive outing since April’s Rallye de Tunisie. Team-mates Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret suffered problems earlier in the event but ultimately claimed ninth position in this, the sixth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.

Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution /
Montero Evolution

Hiroshi Masuoka / Andreas Schulz
(Final Podium - 15 October 2004)
"It was a great feeling to cross the finish line", said Masuoka at the finish ceremony at the Dubai International Marine Club this afternoon. "I felt the same feeling when I won the Dakar Rally on two occasions. It was a short race, but the stages were very difficult and we did not make the best of starts. I was down in sixth position after the first day, but this sport is so difficult to predict. You can be far behind one day and then on top of the world the next. Now I can look ahead to the Dakar Rally in January in a very confident frame of mind".

French Pajero / Montero Evolution team-mates Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret shadowed Masuoka through yesterday’s final competitive section, ready to assist if the Japanese suffered any last minute problems. The two-time winner of the UAE Desert Challenge also gave the new MRP11 version of the Pajero / Montero Evolution its first stage victory in the third leg of the event and ultimately crossed the finish line in ninth position.

"This rally has been a very useful test for the team", said Peterhansel. "The new car has been perfect. We received positive feedback from the changes we have introduced. Now I look forward to the Dakar".

Adding to their comments, Isao Torii, the new President of Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports said: "I am very proud of our whole team and especially pleased for Hiroshi and Andreas in taking their first win here on the UAE Desert Challenge. I was particularly impressed with the professionalism of the entire team".

"We carried out a good test here in Dubai", added a delighted Team Director Dominique Serieys. "We decided to keep some older components, like the engine, in the cars. We are now sure that we know the life expectancy of the differentials and transmissions in the cars and coming here was invaluable to prove this.

"Stéphane did a good job and drove the rally without the tire deflation system. We were happy with the performance of the MPR11. It was good to compare with the MPR10. I am delighted for Hiroshi after his accident in Morocco; it was good for him to get back into winning ways. He did not push for the first two days and then he drove hard.

"The strategy of Stéphane opening the road on the final stage worked perfectly and we can look forward to The Dakar. In the last year we have not lost one race with the Pajero / Montero Evolution and have taken eight victories".

Housieaux claims a fine sixth in Ralliart Pajero / Montero

Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero
Guan Yuan Men / Serge Henninot
(Final Podium - 15 October 2004)
The Ralliart customer team of Dominique Housieaux and Loïc Fagot finished the UAE Desert Challenge in a fine sixth position. The Pajero / Montero crew started yesterday’s final competitive section in seventh and a measured drive, combined by benefiting from problems experienced by Mark Powell and Ahmad Bin Suqat, saw them climb into sixth at the end of the event.

"It was a nice rally", said Housieaux. "I don’t think we have ever raced in an event where the temperatures have been as consistently high as here. The heat in the cars was incredible. We had a problem with a persistent misfire at higher revs, but it was a good result for me on difficult stages".

The Spanish Pajero / Montero crew of José-Luis Monterde and Rafael Tornabell began the final stage in 25th position, after problems with the front differential in the previous leg. They eventually finished 21st overall.

Chinese newcomer Guan Yuang Men and French co-driver Serge Henninot were classified at the rear of the field, having amassed massive penalties throughout the event. The Chinese Pajero / Montero driver can nevertheless be pleased to have finished his first-ever desert event.

German lady driver Andrea Mayer and co-driver Henri Magne had been running as high as fifth overall before their customer development Pajero / Montero was struck with engine problems, ultimately forcing them into retirement.

Final overall classification
  Driver / Co-driver Car Gr/Cl Time Diff.
1 Hiroshi Masuoka / Andreas Schulz Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2.1 14.05.57   
2 Grégoire de Mevius / Jacky Dubois Nissan Pick Up 2.1 14.19.11  + 13.14 
3 Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei / Alain Guehennec BMW X5 2.2 14.50.32  + 44.35 
4 Juha Kankkunen / Juha Repo VW Touareg 2.2 15.39.44  + 1.33.47 
5 Matthias Kahle / Thomas Schünemann 2 Drive TW 104 2.3 17.00.28  + 2.54.31 
6 Dominique Housieaux / Loïc Fagot Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.1 17.06.55  + 3.00.58 
7 Mark Powell / Tim Ansell Land Rover Defender 2.1 20.22.01  + 6.16.04 
8 Laurent Rosso / Christian Rosso Nissan Pathfinder 1.1 21.15.02  + 7.09.05 
9 Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution 2.1 21.56.19  + 7.50.22 
10 Isabelle Patissier / Bernard Irissou Nissan Pathfinder 1.1 23.34.29  + 9.28.32 
.../...
16 Nazir Al-Shanfari / George Aletraris Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 1.1 27.21.07  + 13.15.10 
19 Jean-Pascal Cuerel / Mathieu Kurzen Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 1.2 33.25.00  + 19.19.03 
21 José-Luis Monterde / Rafael Tornabell Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 1.1 34.24.20  + 20.18.23 
25 John Martin / Matt Stevenson Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 1.1 36.54.25  + 22.48.28 
28 Vural Ak / Guray Karacar Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.2 42.34.49  + 28.28.52 
31 Guan Yuan Men / Serge Henninot Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero 2.2 50.45.00  + 36.39.03