Rallye ORPI Maroc / FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies - Round 3 of 6
25 - 29 May 2005

MITSUBISHI & PETERHANSEL ROBBED OF VICTORY
Four fastest stage times for Peterhansel before disappointing retirement
Roma claims first-ever fastest times and finishes fourth overall

Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution
Joan Roma / Henri Magne

After leading every single leg of the Rallye ORPI Maroc, the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team crew of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret were robbed of victory in the final leg when they broke the steering and were forced into retirement. Team-mates Joan "Nani" Roma and Henri Magne rounded off the event with their second fastest stage time and clinched fourth overall in the Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution.

Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution
Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret
"I must accept that we cannot win all the races", said Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports, Isao Torii. "But a real positive for us was to see Nani Roma set the fastest time again today. This shows that the team is on a good strategy in its preparations for the next Dakar".

The Rallye Maroc, round three of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, started from Agadir on Wednesday May 25 and took on a five-day southerly route through the remote Moroccan deserts, near the Atlantic coast. The Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution crew of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret started the opening leg on a hot pace, last year’s French-winning team claiming fourth and then fastest time through the first two competitive sections in leg one, which took the crews from Agadir to Oued Chebika. Overnight, they held more than a one minute advantage, despite a small navigational error and a loss of three minutes changing a flat tire. In the second leg (Thursday May 26), Peterhansel - who won the Dakar Rally in January for the second successive year - again claimed fastest time over the longest competitive section of the event, a technical and fast 351 kilometers trouble-free run to Laayoune.

At the mid-point of the event (Friday May 27), the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team crew firmly stamped their authority on the top of the leaderboard. The Pajero / Montero Evolution duo set fastest time on leg three’s fourth and fifth special stages, extending their outright lead to 14 minutes, despite tricky navigation in the second stage. In the penultimate leg (Saturday May 28), the pair dropped valuable minutes with a puncture and were fifth fastest through the section, however they nevertheless went into the final day of competition with nine minutes and 35 seconds in hand to second placed Bruno Saby. In what was billed as the most varied stage of the entire event, the French Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution crew were fastest at the first check-point, but then damaged the steering box in a rough section before the second control. They were forced into a disappointing retirement after setting the pace during the entire event.

Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution
Joan Roma / Henri Magne
Team-mate Nani Roma and his Andorra-based co-driver Henri Magne lost time in the opening leg but completed the day in fifth position, the Spanish Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution driver continuing to revel in the challenge posed on four wheels. Thursday’s second leg (May 26) was the longest of the event, with a 351 competitive kilometer section ultimately taking the crews to the overnight halt in Tarouma. Roma maintained position, again taking the fifth fastest time over the section.

In Friday’s third leg (May 27), however, Roma and Magne, driving the MPR10 version of the Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution, lost time in both stages with punctures. A navigation problem also saw them doubling back to find the correct route and the time lost meant the crew dropped from fifth to sixth going into the penultimate leg on Saturday. However, they then stole the show, setting fastest time through the 291 kilometer stage between Tan Tan and Tarmquist. For Roma, a former motorcycle Dakar Rally victor, it was his first ever scratch time in a car since swapping to four wheels last autumn. "It is a fantastic sensation for me to take my first scratch time! The stage was not easy; it was technical and necessary to change my pace a lot", said a delighted Roma.

In the final leg of the event today, the Spanish driver climbed from sixth to fourth overall after setting another fastest stage time into Agadir. "It was great to win today’s stage, but it was not easy", said Roma at the finish. "There were several vehicles too close to the stage and one of them was stuck across the track and we had to help move it. Then I just wanted to reach the finish without problems".

Adding to Roma’s comments, Team Director Dominique Serieys said: "This was a good race, but it is not possible to win every one we take part in. Volkswagen has found a good speed this year and the competition is tough. We were leading the rally from the end of the first day, but these things can happen in rallying. Nani Roma has impressed me this week with his speed and I am delighted that he set another fastest time. We are making good progress and will spend the next few months preparing as best we can for Dakar 2006".

The fourth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies takes the contenders to the Rallye d’Orient (June 25-July 2). However, the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios team is planning a series of test sessions throughout the summer and autumn, in readiness for the competition debut of the new Evolution 4 version of the Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero. This is likely to be either in September’s Egypt Rally or in the United Arab Emirates in November.

FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Bruno Saby / Michel Perin F  Volkswagen Touareg T1.2 16.39.56   
 Giniel de Villiers / Kristina Thörner ZA/S  Volkswagen Touareg T1.2 16.45.18  5.22 
 Jutta Kleinschmidt / Fabrizia Pons D/I  Volkswagen Touareg T1.2 16.53.53  13.57 
 Joan Roma / Henri Magne E/F  Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution T1.1 16.56.57  17.01 
 Jean-Louis Schlesser / Arnaud Debron F  Schlesser-Buggy T1.1.1 16.57.13  17.17 
 Thierry Magnaldi / Didier le Gal F  Fast & Speed T1.1.1 17.14.24  34.28 
 Jean-François Guinot / Manfred Kroiss F  Volkswagen Buggy TDi T1.2.1 18.44.01  2.04.05 
 Laszlo Palik / Gabor Darazsi H  Nissan Pick-up T1.1.1 19.14.16  2.34.20 
  Sergey Sukhovenko / Vladimir Korolev RUS  Nissan Pathfinder T2.2.1 19.22.12  2.42.16 
10   Benoît Rousselot / Jacky Dubois F  Nissan Pathfinder T2.2.1 19.28.16  2.48.20 
.../...
13   Pedro-Manuel Grancha / Jaime Santos P  Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero T1.1.2 20.21.08  3.41.12 
18   Christian Barbier / Odile Barbier F  Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero T2.2.2 20.50.21  4.10.25 
31   Francisco Inocencio / Nuno Azevedo P  Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero T1.1.2 34.02.13  17.22.17 
Nationalities: D=Germany / E=Spain / F=France / H=Hungary / I=Italy / P=Portugal / RUS=Russia / S=Sweden / ZA=South Africa /