Por Las Pampas Rally / FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies - Round 1 of 6
6 - 12 March 2005


PETERHANSEL TAKES 2nd IN MITSUBISHI PAJERO / MONTERO EVOLUTION
ROMA 4th IN MITSUBISHI L200 PICK-UP

Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution
Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret

The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studio Team crew of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret finished the Por Las Pampas / Patagonia-Atacama Rally in second position in their Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution. Team-mates Joan "Nani" Roma and Henri Magne claimed fourth overall after an almost trouble-free run in their Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up.

Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution
Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret
The opening round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies attracted a strong international field of entries and the cars were flagged off from the ceremonial start in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, on Saturday March 5. The route, which headed through spectacular terrain in southern Argentina and Chile’s central and northern regions, covered 2,540 competitive kilometers in a total distance of 3,840 kilometers before reaching the finish in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, today.

The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team crew of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret set a blistering pace in the opening leg, the Dakar Rally victors claiming fastest time in the first competitive section in their Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution. However, their charge was slowed during the second day when they rolled after hitting a rock hidden in grass. Forced to wait for team-mate Roma for assistance, the crew slipped to third overall.

"We did a half-roll on to the roof and had to wait for "Nani" to help us onto the wheels with a rope", said Stéphane of the incident. "The power steering was broken and it was very difficult to reach the finish on the narrow and twisty sections afterwards".

Peterhansel and Cottret were however the pace-setters in the following leg between San Rafael in Argentina and Santiago de Chile, the French crew claiming fastest time to close the gap to rival, event leader and ultimate winner Bruno Saby.

Mitsubishi L200
Joan Roma / Henri Magne
Going into the second half of the event, the Pajero / Montero Evolution crew clawed back time to second-placed Jutta Kleinschmidt but this fourth leg also saw them lose precious minutes with two punctures. Nevertheless, they claimed second in the section to maintain third overall, just 1 minute 20 seconds adrift of Kleinschmidt. In the fifth leg however, the pair soared back into contention after setting another fastest time - more than 14 minutes quicker than leader Bruno Saby - to climb into second position. In the penultimate leg, the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team duo finished the longest section of the event between Copiapó and Antofagasta, in northern Chile, in third, having lost time stuck in soft sand in the dunes. They nevertheless maintained second position going into the final day and rounded off a successful event with fastest time to claim second position overall in the opening round of the 2005 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. After nine consecutive victories for the Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero, the all-conquering Japanese manufacturer’s car has finally been beaten for the first time since the 2003 Rally of Morocco.

"Over the last seven days we have seen some really different stages", said Peterhansel at the finish of the event. "In Argentina it was completely different. The last two days were a little like Africa, but the navigation was a little easier".

Mitsubishi L200
Joan Roma / Henri Magne
Team-mates Joan ’Nani’ Roma and Henri Magne also made a fine start to the rally, claiming third position in the team’s Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up by the end of the opening leg. However, after stopping to help Peterhansel in the second leg, they too dropped down the leaderboard, finishing fourth overall. They preserved their position in leg three, after slowing to let a charging Peterhansel maintain his winning pace over the fast but also twisty section reminiscent of an FIA World Rally Championship stage.

In the fourth leg, the Spaniard was hot on Peterhansel’s heels and set third fastest time in the stage, maintaining fourth position in his L200 Pick-Up. Roma and co-driver Henri Magne however lost time in the fifth leg when the car ground to a halt after a river crossing, and then they also got stuck and lost reverse gear trying to extricate the car. Despite emergency repairs, they lost over an hour to Peterhansel, dropping down the leaderboard in the process. After a trouble-free penultimate leg, the crew claimed fourth in the final section today and in only his third event with the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studio Team, Roma finished fourth overall in the L200 Pick-Up.

"I am happy with my position and my progress in the car", said Roma at the finish. "I have a quicker speed than I had on the Dakar, but I still need some more time in the dunes. The race was enjoyable. It was hard for the mechanics and the whole team and it was fantastic to start in Bariloche and finish at 3,000 meters in the desert".

Adding to his comments, Team Director Dominique Serieys said: "I am very happy with this result; it’s a very good start to our cross country program for the season. We had a good battle with Bruno Saby and Jutta Kleinschmidt in the Volkswagens and both Stéphane and ’Nani’ have driven well".

The second round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies takes the contenders to North Africa for the Rallye de Tunisie (April 1-12).

FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Bruno Saby / Michel Perin F  Volkswagen Touareg T1.6 24.49.35   
 Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret F  Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero Evolution T1.3 25.00.47  11.12 
 Jutta Kleinschmidt / Fabrizia Pons D/I  Volkswagen Touareg T1.6 25.26.16  36.41 
 Joan Roma / Henri Magne E/F  Mitsubishi L200 T1.3 27.04.53  2.15.18 
 Sergey Shmakov / Sergey Mishin RUS  Honda Shmakov Buggy T1.7 30.20.11  5.30.36 
 Ronan Chabot / Gilles Pillot F  Toyota Land Cruiser T2.6 33.10.40  8.21.05 
 Jorge Latrach / Americo Aliaga RCH  Toyota SR 5 T1.3 36.45.12  11.55.37 
 El Chacarero / Angel Blazquez RA  Toyota T1.3 46.57.51  22.08.16 
 Andres De Carcer / Homero Novoa RCH  GM T1.3 56.07.09  31.17.34 
10   Claudio Sampieri / Oscar Schidt RA  Nissan Terrano T1.6 56.31.24  31.41.49 
Nationalities: D=Germany / E=Spain / F=France / I=Italy / RA=Argentina / RCH=Chile / RUS=Russia /