Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mitsubishi Motors launches new Delica D:5 (Japan)

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— Full redesign to "Safety with peace of mind" theme —
— 5th generation Delica fuses minivan people-friendliness with SUV tough and strength —

Delica D:5

Rib bone frame

Tokyo, January 31, 2007 — Mitsubishi Motors Corporation today announced the Japanese market launch of the fully redesigned Delica D:5, a minivan that delivers monobox roominess and utility together with high levels of performance and stability in on- and off-road driving. The 2.4-liter 4WD Delica D:5 goes on sale at affiliated dealerships throughout Japan today carrying a tax inclusive price tag ranging from ¥2,614,500 to ¥3,412,500.

The fifth iteration of the series, Delica D:5 inherits and builds on the strengths of the Delica brand philosophy: a peoplemover that transports its occupants to their destination in safety and comfort under all driving conditions. Covering running performance, body structure and cabin environment, Delica D:5 has undergone a full redesign to a development theme of fusing minivan people-friendliness with SUV tough and strength.

Although classified as a monobox minivan, in line with Mitsubishi Motors' All Wheel Control (AWC) vision of active safety Delica D:5 sports electronically-controlled 4WD, Active Stability Control (ASC) together with ample obstacle clearance angles and ride height to give it improved running performance and stability both on- and off-road. Other features that will instill a greater sense of safety and reassurance in its users include a new hoop-design "rib bone frame" body structure, a driver SRS knee airbag standard on all models, and for the first time on a Mitsubishi brand model the use of plastic resin fender panels that are pliant and have superior shape recovery properties.

Delica D:5 presents the first full manifestation of Mitsubishi's Cocochi interior*1 developed around three central themes: Clean; Stress-free; and Reassuring & Safe. In realizing a cabin environment that encourages occupants to relax in reassuring comfort, all models are fitted as standard with UV/IR solar control glass that cuts the amount of ultra-violet and infra-red radiation penetrating the cabin, a deodorizing Clean Air Filter and an odor-eating head lining that eliminates or reduces living odors, cigarette odors and volatile organic compound (VOC) levels.

Delica D:5 also offers outstanding environmental performance: with the equivalent of a 4-star rating for emissions that are 75% lower than required by Japan's 2005 Emission Standards and qualifying for Vehicle Green Tax exemption by returning fuel consumption that is 10% better than Japan's 2010 Fuel Economy standards.
*1: Based on three central themes — Clean, Stress-free and Reassuring & Safe — the cocochi interior is a generic term coined by Mitsubishi Motors to describe the features and components used to provide an occupant-friendly cabin environment that is healthy and comfortable.

I. Delica D:5 product features

1. Design


* Delica D:5 presents a striking road-presence with all-terrain ride height traditional to the series and a boxy body sitting on large wheels and tires. The linear styling treatment produces a handsome and ageless exterior design that readily communicates its functional qualities.
* The front fascia uses a powerfully crafted vertical bar grille to join the headlamps together in a straight band and project a wide, purposeful look.
* The rear end shares a similar treatment with the combination lamps and tailgate garnish running the full width of the tail in a single band in a frill-free and clean design.
* Front and rear bumpers feature skid plate styling to project the vehicle's SUV tough personality and use a functional sectional design that facilitates repair work for minor damage.


* The roof garnish-to-pillar trim styling highlights the hoop-design rib bone frame to create a cabin landscape that appears to cocoon the occupants and instill a reassuring sense of being safely protected.
* The dashboard features a powerful surface composition of functionally defined and optimally located blocks designed to give the driver intuitive and optimal access to switches and controls. The speedometer cluster located in the block opposite the driver employs a precision instrument motif in its design.


* Delica D:5 is offered in 14 body colors. Seven two-tone color schemes highlight the vehicle's SUV tough and high-mobility qualities while seven monotone colors give expression to its premium-value and choice quality attributes. Hinting at the grandeur of Mother Nature the brand-new Jade Green Mica is offered for both 2-tone and monotone body colors.
* Warm White Pearl is available at an additional tax-inclusive cost of ¥31,500 in both 2-tone and monotone schemes.
* Two interior color schemes are offered: Dark Grey that has a strongly active bias and Beige that projects a stronger feel of comfort and fine texture quality.

2. Packaging

* Delica D:5 features a high-efficiency packaging layout that provides 100 mm more interior height despite having a ride clearance that is 20 mm higher and an overall height that is 100 mm lower than its predecessor Delica Space Gear.
* Delica D:5 sports obstacle clearance angles that are on a par with a crossover SUV and allow it to deliver serious off-road performance: 24° approach angle, 18° ramp breakover angle, and 21.5° departure angle.
* Both 2nd and 3rd row seats sit on longer slide rails, allowing the seating to be ideally tailored to different passenger and luggage loads and assuring generous knee room in all seats even when slid right forward.

3. Powertrain

* Delica D:5 uses an improved version of the compact 2.4-liter 16-valve DOHC MIVEC engine with aluminum die-cast cylinder block that has won high critical acclaim in powering the Outlander and that was developed to a high-power, low consumption, lightweight concept. All models earn a 4-star rating for emissions that are 75% lower than Japan's 2005 Emission Regulation requirements and return mileage that is 10% better than the 2010 Fuel Economy Standards and thereby qualify for Green Vehicle Tax exemption status.
* The engine is mated to Mitsubishi's INVECS-III CVT (available with 6-speed Sport Mode) that automatically shifts to the optimal gear ratio for a given engine speed to return superior fuel economy and deliver crisp response. INVECS-III CVT 6-speed Sport Mode models are fitted with Paddle Shifters that allow the driver to change gear manually with both hands on the steering wheel. (Standard on G-Power package, G-Navi package and G-Premium trim lines.)
* All Delica D:5 models use Mitsubishi's electronically controlled 4WD system that optimally tailors front/rear wheel torque split to the driving conditions. A selector dial next to the shift selector allows the driver to switch between three drive modes: 2WD, 4WD AUTO and 4WD LOCK.

4. Body

* Delica D:5 employs a "rib bone frame" design that uses closed-section joins to link the pillars, roof bows and underfloor cross members in hoops at the pillars and the tailgate opening to realize significant improvements in body rigidity and durability as well as to provide outstanding crashworthiness.
* Delica D:5 makes more extensive use of rust-resistant steel in the floor structure than Delica Space Gear. Body corrosion resistance has also been significantly improved through the more extensive use of underfloor sealing and with the application of more undercoat.
* Delica D:5 uses fender panels made of a plastic resin that is flexible and can recover its shape. The switch to this material reduces weight by about 4 kg and makes the fenders more resistant to damage in minor impacts.
* Delica D:5 is available with power sliding rear doors and an electric tailgate (all with anti-trapping protection) that can be operated either using the outer or inner handles or the keyless entry remote unit. The G-Premium model comes with power sliding doors on both sides and electric tailgate as standard. G-Navi package and G-Power package models have a power sliding door on the nearside as standard, while the electric tailgate is available as a factory-fitted option (all with anti-trapping protection).
* Available on all models is a Triple Panorama Sunroof that locates independent glass panels over the front, 2nd and 3rd row seats as a factory-fitted option. The front seat and 3rd row seat tilt-up panels are manually operated while the 2nd row seat panel has power tilt-and-slide operation.
* All Delica D:5 models come equipped as standard with an Active Cornering Light (ACL) system that optimizes the area illuminated at intersections and through corners on mountain roads. The system is synchronized to steering wheel position as well as to turning signal operation.

5. Chassis

* All models, apart from the M grade, are shod as standard with 225/55R18 tires on new designed light and stiff 7-spoke alloy road wheels. M has 215/70R16 tires on steel wheels with full wheel covers.
* Delica D:5 uses the MacPherson strut front / multi-link rear suspension well received on Outlander.
* All Delica D:5 models are fitted as standard with Mitsubishi's Active Stability Control (ASC) system that prevents the vehicle skidding on slippery surfaces or as the result of sudden steering inputs.

6. Interior trim and appointments

* The glovebox is divided into temperature-controllable upper and lower sections. The tray at the bottom of the upper section can be removed to join the two sections large enough to stow two liter-size bottles in an upright position.
* All models, apart from the M grade, are fitted as standard with Relaxing Interior Illumination, a cabin lighting system adjustable for brightness that provides LED indirect lighting to illuminate behind the dashboard center panel, under the center console, the front door upper pockets and the ceiling. Beige and Dark Grey scheme interiors use white and blue LED lighting respectively.
* Delica D:5 comes with six Multi-use Hooks in the quarter trim, four in the tailgate trim and four in the roof beam garnish that are handy for attaching accessories or for securing luggage or cargo.
* The nearside 2nd row seatback features a lever actuated walk-in & tilt-up mechanism to facilitate access to and from the 3rd row seats.
* Lengthy 340 mm slide rails and a side flip-up mechanism allow the 3rd row seating to be optimally arranged to match occupant and luggage space requirements. On G-Premium models the 3rd row seats have a bungee cord that is useful for securing small items.

7. Entertainment

* Standard on G-Premium and a factory-fitted option on the G-Navi package is a Rockford Fosgate premium sound system that uses a 860 Watt amplifier, 12 speakers and 5.1 channel Dolby Digital/ Digital Theater Sound (dts) surround sound technology to create an awesome sound field with superior tone quality.
* Standard on G-Premium and G-Navi package is a 30 GB hard disk drive on-board navigation system with 7-inch LCD monitor that uses dedicated LSI circuitry for ultra-fast route search. Mounted in the rear cabin ceiling and available as a factory-fitted option on G-Premium and G-Navi package is a 9-inch wide display with built-in DVD/CD player and infrared headphones.

8. Safety and peace of mind features

* All models are fitted as standard with driver and front passenger SRS dual-stage airbags that deploy in one of two modes depending on the severity of the impact to provide optimal occupant restraint and location and, a first on a Mitsubishi brand model, with a SRS knee airbag for the driver. Available as a factory-fitted option on all models are SRS curtain airbags that provide better head protection for occupants in all three rows of seats.
* Other passive safety features designed to mitigate occupant injury in a crash include front seats that are designed to reduce impact forces on the neck and that use a cross member under the squab to limit forward movement. In addition, 2nd and 3rd row seats use a strengthened seatback frame to prevent luggage intrusion into the cabin.
* Measures providing pedestrian impact protection include a redesigned front hood hinge and latch and the use of plastic resin fenders.
* Standard on G-Premium and G-Navi package models is the Multi-around Monitor system that displays pictures of left and right forward directions, the sides and the rear on a dashboard monitor to supplement the driver's direct vision and eliminate virtually all blind spots around the vehicle.

9. Cabin environment: the cocochi interior

* All seats use dirt-protection upholstery fabric, the surface of which that has been coated with a fluorine resin using an acrylic resin binder to provide enhanced water and grease repellency.
* Delica D:5 uses a deodorizing Clean Air Filter and odor-eating head lining to reduce and limit everyday-life odors, cigarette odors and volatile organic compounds and provide a clean and comfortable cabin environment.
* All models use UV/IR solar control glass in the windshield and front door windows to reduce penetration of ultra-violet and infra-red radiation into the cabin. The use of water-repellent glass in the front door windows (M grade excluded) improves driver visibility when driving in the rain.

10. Other features

* Specially designed to further enhance Delica D:5's attractive qualities is a comprehensive range of dealer-fitted accessories. Included are bumper protectors, underguard bars and other dress up parts that bring out the full flavor of Delica D:5's off-road styling taste. A heavy-duty roof carrier and rear ladder are just two examples of items designed to bring further convenience and utility to the outdoor adventure experience. And the new sub-battery system allows hours and hours of DVD's entertainment on the navigation monitor and rear cabin display as well as powering accessory sockets or supplying the AC power source without having to keep the engine running.
* Available as a factory-fitted option for specially-equipped vehicles is a Power Side Step the deployment of which is synchronized to the opening and closing of the nearside sliding door.

II. Sales information
1. Monthly sales target: 2,300 units

2. Available at:
Mitsubishi dealerships throughout Japan


Paddle shifters


Monday, January 22, 2007

Mitsubishi Motors to develop and launch flexible fuel vehicle (FFV)

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— Brazil market FFV launch scheduled for 2007; US market models in development —

Tokyo, January 22, 2007 — Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) today announced plans to launch a flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) in the Brazil market within fiscal 2007. The Company also announced that models are in development for the US market for a fiscal 2009 launch.

One of MMC's design objectives is to create vehicles that meet the requirements of the Century of the Environment. This can be seen in the MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative electric vehicle), a next generation electric car that is a core element in the company's environmental technology strategy, and can also be seen in the next generation diesel engine that is now under development. In addition to these initiatives, MMC and its local manufacturing and sales unit, MMC Automotores do Brasil Ltda. (MMCB) have been developing a flexible fuel vehicle for the Brazil market. The FFV can run on gasoline, ethanol, or a mixture of the two, and will be launched in the Brazil market within fiscal 2007. Practical FFV solutions are also in development for the US market, where a fiscal 2009 launch is planned.

The FFV system utilizes oxygen concentration sensors to measure the concentration of oxygen in exhaust gas passing through an ordinary exhaust system. This information enables the concentration of ethanol in the fuel to be inferred, so that the amounts of fuel injected and the ignition spark timing can be optimized. As a result, the engine can handle gasoline-ethanol fuel mixtures with proportions of ethanol between 0% and 100%. The overall design achieves dynamic (engine) performance and environmental performance (fuel consumption and exhaust emissions) on a par with gasoline vehicles.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart claims 7th successive Dakar win

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21 January 2007
Liaison 77kms / SS 16kms
Total 93kms

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart rewrote the history books by claiming a seventh successive victory in the punishing 2007 Dakar Rally after the final 16km special stage, near Dakar, in Sénégal on Sunday.

The success was a record-breaking 12th win in the team’s 25-year history of competing in the world’s toughest and most famous off-road rally. The French crew of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret won the event for the third time in four years in their Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution and beat their team mates and defending champions Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard by a margin of just seven minutes 26 seconds, after 15 days of bruising competition across Portugal, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali and Sénégal.

Stephane Peterhansel/Jean Paul Cottret (1st place)

"I was very nervous on the last big African special stage yesterday and I just drove very slowly on the beach this morning," said Peterhansel. "It was not necessary to do the show for the crowd and the television on the last stage. When I won my first motorcycle race in Tunisia, I did not win a special stage, so in my head it was never a problem not to win a special stage on this Dakar. It is not that important.

"Taking the overall victory on the Dakar is the important thing. It is the best feeling. Our new MPR13 is very good and very fast, but I am sure that we can make even more improvements this year before we come back to try and win the Dakar again in 2008."

The Japanese manufacturer hit the front on the ninth special stage between Tichit and Néma in the Mauritanian Sahel, when long-time leader Giniel de Villiers suffered turbocharger problems and lost his place in the top 10. For the last six days of the rally, Mitsubishi controlled proceedings through careful team management, a professional approach by each of the drivers and thorough car preparation to record victory without the need to take a single stage win.

Stephane Peterhansel (left, 1st place)/Luc Alphand (right, 2nd place)

Mitsubishi also failed to clinch a stage win in 2001 when Jutta Kleinschmidt and Andreas Schulz clinched overall victory for the Japanese manufacturer. The statistic proved that individual stage wins on an event of the punishing nature of the Dakar are largely irrelevant.

"I won the race last year, but the important thing was to give the team victory again this time," said runner-up Alphand. "This morning it was like a party on the beach, with friends, the ocean and the victory. We proved that we have great team spirit, real determination and the best group of people."

Mitsubishi's winning 1-2 photo finish

Japan’s Hiroshi Masuoka and Pascal Maimon lost their chance of taking a podium finish with two time-consuming clutch problems and a series of flat tires, but the twice former winner reached Lac Rose in fifth position after a late time penalty cost rival Nasser Al-Attiyah his place in the top five.

"This is my first Dakar finish for three years and it was a nice feeling to reach the end," said Masuoka. "But I had some problems in the early stages and this cost me my chance of a win. The team has again proved that experience is crucial on an event like the Dakar. Now we can look forward to the future and our continued success in this rally."

Spaniards Joan ’Nani’ Roma and Lucas Cruz finished their first Dakar Rally together in 13th position, after clutch problems and a low-speed roll in the Mauritanian sand dunes pushed them out of contention. They were 10th fastest on the final stage, near Dakar, on Sunday, despite the fact that Roma was competing with a broken thumb after the incident with a tree stump on Saturday en route to Dakar.

"It was not my turn to win the Dakar this year, but it has been another great learning curve for me," said Roma. "It was my first event with Lucas and we have worked well together. I had some problems, but it is great to see the team continuing its winning streak. I can look forward to another season with Mitsubishi and planning ahead for the next Dakar, when it could be my turn to take the victory."

Drivers and co-drivers of the Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart management dedicated the Dakar win to the memory of co-driver Henri Magne, who lost his life in a tragic accident during last June’s Rally of Morocco. His wife and adopted child joined the team for the podium at Lac Rose. Magne won the Dakar Rally on two occasions and was third overall last year with Joan ’Nani’ Roma.

"I am very proud that we have managed to record the seventh win in seven years," said MMSP’s Managing and Sporting Director Dominique Serieys. "The new car won out of the box with a couple of minor problems with some external components and this bodes well for the ongoing development throughout 2007 and into 2008. I don’t think that this was a difficult Dakar. For sure, our strategy was different this time, but you can see from the number of finishers that it was maybe an easier race than previous years. We had many more difficult battles with Citroën in previous Dakars.

"Last summer we suffered the tragic loss of Henri Magne and he is always in our thoughts. But life has to go on. For that reason we have dedicated this victory to his honour and to his wife Lucette and baby Louis, who have joined us in Dakar to share this special and emotional occasion."

"I am very happy for the entire team that we have achieved this victory," said Osama Nakayama, General Manager, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation Okazaki R&D Motor Sports Team. "But it was very difficult this year. Volkswagen made great progress with their cars and it was a super fight for many days. We had some problems with the clutch, but the new MPR13 has won its first Dakar outing. For the future we will look to improve our chances of retaining the Dakar title and begin to develop environmentally-friendly technologies through our Cross-Country motor sport program."

Out of a capacity entry of 185 cars, 247 bikes and quads and 85 trucks, only 109 cars, 132 bikes and quads and 59 trucks reached the finish in Dakar after a shortened route of 7,915km, of which 4,309km were competitive.

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart will concentrate on further developing the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution over the coming months and will embark upon a new FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup program this season.

China’s Lui Bin and Thailand’s Pornsiriched finish Dakar Rally in 47th and 67th positions

Frenchman Housieaux leads Mitsubishi privateers in 19th

Novitskiy (20th), Soloviev (53rd) and Kolberg (57th) complete 2007 Dakar

China’s Lui Bin and French co-driver Serge Henninot survived a 10-minute scare at Lac Rose to complete the Dakar Rally in 47th place. They were classified last on the special stage, but the Chinese driver was understandably delighted with his success at reaching the finish.

"The objective was to reach Dakar and we achieved that target," said Bin. "It was a very difficult and long race, but I gained in confidence each day and managed to survive the very hard days in Mauritania. I enjoyed my first taste of the dunes and was confident that I could reach the finish once we were through Mauritania."

Frenchman Dominique Housieaux and co-driver Jean-Michel Polato were the leading Mitsubishi privateers to finish the event this year in 19th overall at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero, one place ahead of the Russian driver Russian Leonid Novitskiy in his Mitsubishi L200 Triton.

Thailand’s Mana Pornsiriched and French co-driver Jean Brucy finished the rally in 67th position in their Mitsubishi L200 Triton.

"It is a fantastic feeling to reach Dakar," said Pornsiriched. "There were times over the last two weeks when I did not think it would be possible to complete the rally. But the mechanics did a fantastic job to keep us in the rally and we made it to the finish. It’s a great day for me."

Brazilian Klever Kolberg completed the rally in 57th place and Russian Yaroslav Soloviev was 53rd in their Mitsubishi Pajeros/Monteros.

Lac Rose (Pink Lake), Dakar, Senegal

Final Overall Standings


Toni Gardemeister takes points from Rally Monte-Carlo

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20 JANUARY 2007

Finnish driver Toni Gardemeister made his debut in a Mitsubishi Lancer WRC on this week’s Monte Carlo Rally. Despite his inexperience of the car – he only drove it for 90 kilometers before the start – he spent much of the event challenging for fourth position. Unfortunately for Gardemeister and co-driver Jakke Honkanen, they slipped down the order on Saturday’s third leg, eventually ending the event in seventh position.

Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkannen

Gardemeister was delighted with the performance of the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC, and posted top six times regularly throughout the opening round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship, which was based in Valence, rather than the principality of Monaco. The event had undergone extensive changes, the main one being the move to the Ardeche region, 400 kilometers north of Alpes-Maritimes, the traditional home of the rally. The event did visit Monte Carlo, when the competitors tackled the lower half of the world famous grand prix circuit this morning.

Gardemeister said: "I have enjoyed this event. The Mitsubishi has been very good for me. The car ran without any problems through the rally. It took me some time to get used to the Mitsubishi as I hadn’t competed in it before, but it was very stable and nice to drive. We had a small brake problem in some of the faster stages. I’m not sure what was the cause, but it was not a technical problem with the brakes. The fight for fourth place was very hard, everybody was pushing to the limit. I usually go well in the changeable conditions, which are usually typical of this rally, but this time the weather was not quite so normal. We had some damp stages, but there was no snow at all, which wasn’t really like the normal Monte Carlo."

Xavier Pons/Xavier Amigo

Gardemeister’s team-mate Xevi Pons damaged the transmission on the first stage on Friday morning, forcing him to continue in the event under the Superally regulations, which dropped the Spaniard’s Mitsubishi Lancer WRC down the field to 25th at the end.

Richard Frau/Jean-Paul Ayme

There was more success for Mitsubishi in the Group N category, where the Lancer Evolution IXs of Richard Frau and Jean-Paul Ayme clinched the second and third podium spots in a typically hard-fought battle for production glory.

"It was a strange Monte Carlo," said Frau. "The weather was always so warm, it was odd for this event. I didn’t have the right set-up in the front differential, which was causing my tires to be worn too quickly, but otherwise it was good. There were so many spectators, it was incredible at times. I have really enjoyed the rally and it was very good to compete on the grand prix track at the finish as well."

Andreas Aigner/Klaus Wicha - Redbull Rallye Team

Frenchman Sebastien Loeb and his Monegasque co-driver Daniel Elena celebrated their return to the sport, after Loeb broke his arm in September, with a fourth Monte Carlo victory from five starts. Citroen took a one-two on the debut of the C4 WRC, as Dani Sordo clinched the runners-up spot ahead of Marcus Gronholm’s Ford.

The next round of the FIA World Rally Championship is the Swedish Rally, February 8-11.


Volkswagen clinched 10 of 14 possible stage win in 2007 Dakar

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In the 2007 Dakar Rally Volkswagen – having clinched ten of 14 possible stage victories and leading the event for eight days – was the dominant team in the field, but in the overall classification the factory team headed by Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen was not rewarded for its performance.

After 8,000 kilometres factory driver Mark Miller (USA) and his co-driver Ralph Pitchford (South Africa) in the Race Touareg 2, as the make’s best pairing, finished in fourth place overall. Prior to this, a defect on a cam follower in the valve train of the diesel engine, which had never occurred before in countless kilometres of testing and competition, had robbed the German automotive manufacturer that had been successfully defending its lead up to this point of all chances for victory.

On all the competition days and in highly varied terrain the Race Touareg powered by a 285-hp 2.5-litre TDI turbodiesel engine had been proving its strengths: From the first to the eighth stage the Volkswagen drivers were leading the 29th running of the desert classic. In the final analysis, this shows a significant improvement over the prior year when the squad finished with five days of leading the rally and five stage victories. On the ninth stage both of the best-placed Race Touareg prototypes were struck by an identical engine defect that caused them to suffer an unrecoverable set-back: Giniel de Villiers (South Africa), runner-up in last year’s ‘Dakar’, with co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz (Germany), who had been leading with a half-hour advantage up to that point, and Carlos Sainz (Spain) with co-driver Michel Périn (France), who had been running in second place up to the eighth stage.

In the following chase to make up ground the factory team and the drivers gave proof of their unbroken sporting spirit: In a fantastic showing Carlos Sainz – in his second "Dakar” the front runner from the third to the sixth day of the competition and two-time stage winner up to that point – delivered a series of three further stage victories, starting with the twelfth leg. In the end, the Spaniard finished in ninth position overall. Giniel de Villiers, who clinched four stage wins, including two of the three most difficult stages in Mauritania, and was leading the field on the seventh and eighth stages, ultimately improved from 13th to eleventh position.

Carlos Sousa/Andy Schulz

The Portuguese Carlos Sousa and his German co-driver Andy Schulz proved that in a customer-run Race Touareg 2 excellent showings are possible as well. The duo from the Portugese Lagos Team, for whose fielding the German squad of Phoenix Sport headed by Team Director Ernst Moser was responsible, won the first stage, had the overall lead on the rally’s first two days and defended third place up to the sixth stage. On the seventh stage the duo got stuck in the sand but was able to free itself. In the heavy sandstorm, though, the driver and co-driver unfortunately lost sight of each other and a lot of time in the process of looking for one another. Sousa/Schulz finished the rally at the famous Lac Rose in seventh place overall.

The four-time Dakar Rally winner Ari Vatanen from Finland in the fourth Race Touareg, navigated by his Italian co-driver Fabrizia Pons, on the second stage dropped back to 113th place after a driving mistake while passing through water. On the seventh day a fire of the vehicle put a premature end to the duo’s running.

-Volkswagen Motorsports

Saturday, January 20, 2007

07 Dakar Leg 14 Report

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20 January 2007
Tambacounda - Dakar
Liaison 351kms / SS 225kms
Total 576kms

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart arrived in the Sénégalese capital of Dakar firmly in command of the 29th Dakar Rally, after the penultimate special stage between Tambacounda and Dakar on Saturday.

Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret

The French duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret began the last of the longer African special stages 11m 15s ahead of team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard and maintained the overall lead, despite the fact that Alphand reduced their overall advantage to 7m 16s on the special.

Today’s stage offered many potential last minute pitfalls as it wound its way through populated areas and over tricky parallel tracks where accurate navigation was of paramount importance and there were numerous speed checks. Only 136 bikes, 109 cars and 60 trucks survived to take the start of the special.

Neither of the overall leaders had any intention of pushing too hard and it was no surprise that a third successive stage win eventually fell to Spaniard Carlos Sainz. Alphand and Peterhansel eventually finished the stage in seventh and 11th positions, but head into Sunday’s short competitive finale in a very strong position to extend Mitsubishi’s six-year winning streak on the Dakar.


"I feel really happy to reach Dakar, but I was very nervous this morning," admitted Peterhansel. "Last year the navigation was not easy and we lost 20 minutes. It was not easy to find a good speed this morning. The track was not clear. It was possible to lose time so I started slowly. Marc Miller and Carlos Sousa passed me. On the second part of the stage we lost the track for a couple of minutes and I was very nervous. The speed restrictions helped us a lot. My eyes were always on the trip to check we were not going too fast."

"It’s a little frustrating for me to be second into Dakar, but it has been like this for the last few days," said Alphand. "Nevertheless it has been a great all-round team performance. I am very happy to reach Dakar. It was quite a strange stage this morning. There were 17 speed restriction zones and that made the navigation easier, because we were driving slower and there was a waypoint every five or six kilometres. Tomorrow is the beach and, hopefully, we will have a party with our friends at the podium."

Hiroshi Masuoka and Pascal Maimon began the stage 15th on the road and were classified 10th at the PC checkpoint. They eventually reached the stage finish in 13th position.

"No problems for me today," said Masuoka. "There were a lot of trees on the track and I just wanted to reach Dakar without problems and do my part for the team."

Spaniards Joan ’Nani’ Roma and Lucas Cruz started eighth in the running order this morning, but lost 10 minutes before the passage control, slipped to 27th on the stage and eventually finished in 26th position. Roma maintains 13th overall.

"We hit a low tree stump quite hard in a forest on my side of the car about 40km into the stage and it damaged the power steering," said Roma. "I also hurt my thumb in the steering wheel and it was very painful to finish the stage and drive the liaison."

"My feeling is that it is not yet over," said MMSP’s Managing and Sporting Director Dominique Serieys. "We will see tomorrow around midday after the last stage. I am very proud of our entire team that we have reached Dakar. Team work has been superb again this year."

China’s Lui Bin and Thailand’s Pornsiriched reach Dakar in 46th and 67th positions

Frenchman Housieaux leads Mitsubishi privateers in 19th

Novitskiy, Kolberg and Soloviev on track for memorable Dakar finish

Lui Bin/Serge Henninot

China’s Lui Bin and French co-driver Serge Henninot began the last of the longer African special stages in 47th position this morning and was on course to reach the Atlantic coast on his first ever Dakar. He lies 46th overall going into the final stage at Lac Rose on Sunday.

"The goal was to reach Dakar and we have made it here, but the job is not quite finished yet," said Bin. "We have one small stage to go and then we can say we have fulfilled the goal."

Frenchman Dominique Housieaux and co-driver Jean-Michel Polato began the day in 19th place and were 20th fastest into Dakar. They retained their position in the overall standings.

Mana Pornsiriched/Jean Brucy

Thailand’s Mana Pornsiriched and French co-driver Jean Brucy held 67th place as cars left Tambacouda and reached Dakar in 25th position to maintain 67th in the overall standings.

"We hit a small tree this morning and I reallu thought it was going to be a very serious problem," said Pornsiriched. "But the car is very strong and we did no real damage. Now I am very close to the finish and getting excited."

Russian Leonid Novitskiy maintained 20th overall into Dakar and was 15th on the day’ stage.

"Soon it may be time for a small glass of vodka for some of the team," said Novitskiy. "We had another good stage today and that gives me a good feeling for tomorrow."

Brazilian Klever Kolberg began the stage in 58th in the overall standings and finished in a superb 12th overall to maintain his climb up the leader board. Yaroslav Soloviev holds 48th overall after the day’s stage.

Tomorrow (Sunday) should have marked the first time that the Lac Rose section had not counted as a competitive Dakar stage. The special was to have run as a televised Grand Prix-style shoot-out between the leading teams and not counted for the overall classification. But event organisers decided to reinstate the traditional special and teams will tackle a nail-biting 16km of competitive action before the traditional podium finale.


07 WRC Rallye Monte-Carlo Leg 3 Update

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Saturday's leg of Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo was the final day of proper rally stages. The rally will continue for another day in the Principality with the Monaco Circuit superspecial as the only stage to be run on Sunday.

For the third day, the Citroën Total World Rally Team drivers completed the leg holding first and second in the overall classifications. Sébastien Loeb and Dani Sordo began the rally holding the top two positions respectively and ended Saturday's stages in the same position which they began the rally two days prior.

Citroën's release of the C4 WRC was extremely impressive for the team and though both Citroën drivers relaxed on Saturday's stages, their dominance on tarmac was firmly felt throughout the stages.

Marcus Grönholm found himself in an unfamiliar position, and one that his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was all too familiar with in 2006, 'no-man's land'. Grönholm was unable to catch the Citroëns ahead of him but he was too far ahead for the remainder of the FIA World Rally Championship field behind him to catch-up. The Finn was not happy with his pace, but as the rally progressed, he seemed to realize that he would be unable to match the C4 WRC under the conditions of the weekend.

Mikko Hirvonen

Fourth overall at the end of the leg was Mikko Hirvonen, who may have had the most inspiring drive of any of the WRC competitors during the day. Hirvonen and Chris Atkinson, who completed the leg fifth overall, had a heated battle throughout the day's six stages, but it was the young Finn who pulled ahead and brought fourth overall to the rally's final proper day, though by only 0.8 seconds.

Atkinson finished the day with two stage victories, however - Subaru's first tarmac stage win since Monte Carlo last year.

Atkinson's team-mate, Petter Solberg, completed the leg sixth overall. Solberg was optimistic about both his Impreza WRC and the BF Goodrich tyres his team ran through the weekend. Solberg did complain of grip issues early in the event but found a comfortable pace which he held until the day ended.

Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson

Toni Gardemeister had a hard-fought battle with Solberg during the rally's third leg, but the Finn was unable to move beyond the former champion to claim sixth position. Gardemeister finished Monte Carlo third last year and had hoped for a higher position on the leaderboard this weekend. A solid, trouble-free drive saw him finish Saturday's stages with an impressive performance to take seventh overall into Sunday.

Jan Kopecky, driving the only Skoda Fabia WRC in this weekend's event, finished the third leg eighth overall. Kopecky has driven a very clean rally and though he was in a heated battle with Jari-Matti Latvala during the final two stages of the leg, he was aided with holding that position after Latvala suffered a minor, but costly off on the rally's final stage. Latvala dropped two places on the leaderboard and is effectively out of the hunt for a point-finish.

Jan Kopecky

Though many of the positions carried into the rally's final stage will not change after the Monaco Circuit superspecial, the one battle that will be decided Sunday is the one between Atkinson and Hirvonen. Separated by less than a second, the two drivers will be keen to claim that position for their teams and themselves.

The Mitsubishi Motors Motorsports Privateer squad:

Toni Gardemeister/Juha Honkanen

Xavier Pons/Xavier Amigo

-photos: MMSP

Toni Gardemeister interview

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Toni Gardemeister has been in three different World Rally Cars during the last three years of Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo. In 2005, he ran the event in a Ford Focus RS WRC. In 2006, he drove an Astra backed Peugeot 307, and this year he is running a Mitsubishi Lancer. The Finn has finished in a podium position in the last two seasons and in 2007 he is not losing any hope of having another strong finish.

Gardemeister has been swapping places on the overall leaderboard during the second leg of the rally between Manfred Stohl and Mikko Hirvonen. After the last stage of the day, the St. Martial - Le Chambon - Beleac test, he now goes into the final leg of the event sixth overall in the classification, 6.7 seconds behind Hirvonen.

"It is not the end yet," Gardemeister said at the end of the last stage of the day. "It gets difficult when the stages are dry, but when it's slippery we're ok."

The battle for fifth continues tomorrow before the World Rally Cars head to Monaco Saturday evening for the overnight haul at the Principality which will host the superspecial stage Sunday morning around the harbour in the Formula 1 circuit.

07 WRC Rallye Monte-Carlo Leg 2 Update

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Xavier Pons/Xavier Amigo

Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen


07 WRC Rallye Monte-Carlo Leg 1 Update

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Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen

Xavier Pons/Xavier Amigo

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Friday, January 19, 2007

07 Dakar Leg 13 Report

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19 January 2007
Kayes - Tambacounda
Liaison 198kms / SS 260kms
Total 458kms

The Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart crew of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret began the 13th special stage of the 2007 Dakar Rally between Kayes in Mali and Tambacounda in Sénégal, 6m 29s ahead of team mates Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard, on Friday.

Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret

But the twice former winners of the event extended their overall lead to 11m 15s after setting the second fastest time, behind stage winner Carlos Sainz, on the twisty and narrow special through eastern Sénégal. The two crews are now under instruction from team management to bring the two Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions to Dakar without any undue risks over the final two special stages at the weekend.

The organisers had warned that navigation would be tricky on the day’s stage and there would be several carefully monitored speed restriction zones through villages and heavily populated areas. The fact that bike race leader Marc Coma got lost and then crashed was a case in point. It was not a stage to be taken lightly.

"There was some very difficult navigation in the early part of the stage and then a wide track," said Peterhansel. "The end of the stage was very fast. It is much easier to race at higher speeds in the car. Jean-Paul did a great job on the navigation and that was so important. We beat the bikes by around 30 minutes today. This race is never finished until you see the podium. The leader of the motorbikes today was a harsh example of that. It was good to finish the stage.

"Tomorrow is not too long, but I remember the stage was difficult last year and several crews lost a lot of time. We have a good position behind Carlos Sainz on the road. He is fast so we should be okay."

Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard

Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard began the special stage in third position and set the sixth fastest time to conserve second place.

"It is always quite an easy stage when you have the right track," said Alphand. "It was easier for the cars with a co-driver than it was for the bikes. We decided this morning to stay behind Carlos Sainz and Carlos Sousa and behave. Both mirrors and both wings are intact on our car, so that proves we drove very sensibly."

Joan ’Nani’ Roma/Lucas Cruz

Joan ’Nani’ Roma and Lucas Cruz were fifth into the stage in the third Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution and eventually set the eighth fastest time to retain 13th overall.

"Near the end of the stage I hit a small tree, under braking, and we damaged the front right wing of the car, but it was just panel damage," said Roma. "After that I had one right-hand puncture and that’s where we lost the time. Today was a case of being careful."

Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon

Hiroshi Masuoka and Pascal Maimon were forced to start the stage in 19th place this morning and lost several minutes trailing in Stéphane Henrard’s dust. They set the 15th fastest time.

"For 150km we followed in the dust of the Buggy," said Masuoka. "We tried to get passed but it was not possible. The stage was very difficult. It was narrow and twisty. We passed a Nissan, which had crashed, and we were careful to the finish."

"It was a great shame for Marc Coma in the bike category, but this proves that this race is never finished until you reach the final stage in Dakar," said MMSP’s Managing and Sporting Director Dominique Serieys. "We will stay quiet and very humble. All our drivers are safely through the stage. Our drivers are professional and know that in the interest of Mitsubishi Motors we should try all we can to reach Dakar in the same positions as we are in now."

China’s Lui Bin and Thai Pornsiriched hold 47th and 66th places in Tambacounda

Lui Bin/Serge Henninot

China’s Lui Bin and French co-driver Serge Henninot were classified 49th at the start of the 13th special stage and set the 31st fastest time into Tambacounda. The pair gained two places in the overall classification to 47th.

"We learned from the stage yesterday that these last stages are tiring and it is easy to make a mistake," said Bin. "Now I have one large stage to go and I am beginning to think that we can make it to the finish."

Frenchman Dominique Housieaux and co-driver Jean-Michel Polato began the day in 19th place in the overall standings and set the 19th fastest time.

Mana Pornsiriched/Jean Brucy

Thailand’s Mana Pornsiriched and French co-driver Jean Brucy held 68th overall on the run out of Kayes and finished the stage in a fine 22nd overall. The Thai moved up to 66th place.

"The stage was very narrow," said Pornsiriched. "There were many small trees and it was easy to lose the way. Jean did a good job. He has experience of these stages from his days on a motorcycle."

Russian Leonid Novitskiy finished the special in 18th position and holds 20th overall, while Brazilian Klever Kolberg held 59th overall at the start of the day and finished the stage into Tambacounda in a superb 16th place, just over a minute behind Hiroshi Masuoka. He now holds 57th in the overall standings.

"I just wish that I could have had good stages like this one last week and during the first days on the Dakar," said Kolberg. "Then we would have been looking at a very good result. The object now is just to reach the finish."

Yaroslav Soloviev held 52nd this morning and was 47th into Tambacounda to remain in 52nd place.

"It was a very good day for the entire team," admitted team spokesman Angelo das Sujit. "We had no punctures, no damaged cars, we hit no trees and we don’t have too much work to do on the cars for tomorrow. If only every day was like that on the Dakar!"

The last of the traditional African special stages – a 225km section between Tambacounda and Dakar in Sénégal – takes place tomorrow (Saturday). The route consists of a wide range of twisty and fast roads through villages and populated areas and starts 124km to the west of Tambacounda at the town of Koumpentoum. The route heads north towards Velingara and turns west to a finish near Mbake. A 227km liaison steers teams into Dakar.

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