BAJA ESPANA 2008 – After Leg 1

HREE TEAM REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART CREWS IN THE TOP-FIVE AFTER FIRST FULL DAY OF BAJA ESPANA ACTIONFollowing Thursday evening's appetiser, which took the form of a short super-special in Alcaniz, serious business began yesterday with the first of the 2008 Baja Espana's three legs. Competitors were greeted by glorious hotsunshine, with temperatures peaking at 34°C. The day ended with Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart's Juan 'Nani' Roma/Lucas Cruz (Spain) emerging as the closest threat to early leader Nasser Al-Attiyah, while Luc Alphand (France) finished just outside the top-three with his co-driver Gilles Picard (France) despite having his strength sapped by suspected food poisoning,. The French pair appeared to be on target to join their team-mates on the overnight podium but lost time with a double puncture just 10km from the finish of the afternoon's stage.The two Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR13 crews are joined in the provisional top-five by Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (Japan/France) who are competing with the MPR14 diesel version of the Pajero/Montero Evolution. They, too, lost ground after suffering two punctures this morning but produced an strong run on the second stage which was divided into two parts (SS2A and SS2B). Hiroshi and Pascal were rewarded with the second best time on SS2B which enabled them to fight back from 13th position at the lunchtime break to fifth overall yesterday evening."It's been a day when punctures have played a big role in the provisional order," observes Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Director Dominique Serieys (France).

"We had six in total - two per crew - all of which were due to impacts with rocks, and in no way due to the products of our tyre partner BFGoodrich. The pace was very fast from the word go and you can't blame our drivers for pushing, but our situation this evening isn't one you can afford to be in when the competition gets this fierce. Today was a day of maximum attack which didn't pay off; tomorrow we have every intention of counter-attacking!"Nani Roma figured in the top-three on every one of yesterday's stage timesheets (SS1, SS2A, SS2B) and is the best-placed Mitsubishi runner Friday evening.

Both his morning and afternoon runs were spoiled by front-right punctures, but he is still very much in contention in second place.

"The current regulations mean that we are at a disadvantage with our petrol car compared with our diesel-powered rivals. We therefore need to make up for the performance gap over faster sections by pushing as hard as we can through the twistier parts where the handicap is less marked," reasons the 2005 Baja Espana winner. "That in turn means taking a certain number of risks if you want to win and sometimes there's a price to pay for that. Tomorrow's terrain promises to be faster than today's, so we will need to put our early problems behind us and stay as focused as we can."His French team-mate Luc Alphand was seriously handicapped today by severe stomach pains and a lack of sleep after falling sick on Thursday evening. The Frenchman bravely managed to limit the damage on the morning's stage which he finished in third place. However, he then lost his footing on the provisional podium when he was forced to stop to change two wheels which shattered simultaneously 10km from the end of SS2B.

 "There was a huge rock - maybe 40cm in diameter - in the middle of the road and I swerved left to avoid it," he relates. "But there was another big rock on the side of the stage and I hit it with both left-hand side wheels. We were carrying two spares, so we were able to continue but we lost a great deal of time. It's not been a good day for me at all. Hopefully, I will feel better after a good night's rest."Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka recovered well after collecting two punctures early on the morning's stage which forced him to switch to a safe pace for most of the 113km test because he had no spares left in the car. A strong run in the afternoon saw him move up eight places to overnight fifth, however.

 "After picking up two punctures early on SS1, I took SS2A very cautiously, driving as cleanly as possible to avoid suffering a similar fate," says the driver of the diesel-powered MPR14. "Today's tracks were quite difficult for us because they were rough and mostly slow and twisty, whereas we tended to be more competitive over the faster portions. Our chances of winning have taken a big blow, although a top result cannot be ruled out. For that, we will need to push hard, but these stages call for 100 per cent concentration!"The second leg of the 25th anniversary Baja Espana will see competitors strike north of Zaragoza for the 133.12km Villamayor-Huesca stage (SS3), before heading back south for the longest competitive section of the rally, a 238.16km run from Longares to Belchite via Alcaniz. The day ends with theshort 1.00km Principe Felipe/Colin McRae Memorial showpiece before the second overnight halt in Zaragoza. SS1 CLASSIFICATION

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (BMW X3 CC)- 1:32:22 (+**:**:**.*)2. Joan Roma (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 1:32:55 (+0:33)3. Luc Alphand (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 1:33:39 (+1:17)4. Filipe Campos (BMW X3 CC)- 1:36:08 (+3:46)5. Orlando Terranova (BMW X3 CC)- 1:36:56 (+4:34)6. Bruno Saby (BMW X3 CC)- 1:38:59 (+6:37)7. Tonnie Van Deijne (MITSUBISHI L200)- 1:40:17 (+7:55)8. Leonid Novistsky (BMW X3 CC)- 1:41:05 (+8:43)9. Maurizio Traglio (NISSAN TERRANO)- 1:42:34 (+10:12)10. Luis Climent (TOYOTA PROTO)- 1:43:10 (+10:48)11. Jose Hernandez (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 1:44:03 (+11:41)12. Fernando Hernandez (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 1:44:06 (+11:44)13. Antonio Mendes (NISSAN NAVARA)- 1:44:17 (+11:55)14. Kenjiro Shinozuka (NISSAN PATHFINDER)- 1:44:34 (+12:12)15. Hiroshi Masuoka (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 1:44:42 (+12:20)16. Stephane Henrard (VOLKSWAGEN BUGGY)- 1:45:08 (+12:46)17. Manuel Plaza (MITSUBISHI PAJERO)- 1:45:38 (+13:16)18. Karoly Fazekas (BMW X5)- 1:45:45 (+13:23)19. Boris Gadasin (NISSAN OVERDRIVE)- 1:46:08 (+13:46)20. Ricardo Colombo (MITSUBISHI L200)- 1:46:26 (+14:04)SS2A CLASSIFICATION

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (BMW X3 CC)- 1:06:47 (+**:**:**.*)2. Joan Roma (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 1:07:57 (+1:10)3. Orlando Terranova (BMW X3 CC)- 1:08:24 (+1:37)4. Luc Alphand (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 1:08:52 (+2:05)5. Filipe Campos (BMW X3 CC)- 1:09:37 (+2:50)6. Hiroshi Masuoka (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 1:09:38 (+2:51)7. Boris Gadasin (NISSAN OVERDRIVE)- 1:11:55 (+5:08)8. Santiago Anglada (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 1:13:45 (+6:58)9. Antonio Mendes (NISSAN NAVARA)- 1:14:04 (+7:17)10. Luis Climent (TOYOTA PROTO)- 1:14:44 (+7:57)11. Bernardo Moniz (BMW X3 CC)- 1:15:09 (+8:22)12. Laszlo Palik (NISSAN NAVARA)- 1:15:30 (+8:43)13. Maurizio Traglio (NISSAN TERRANO)- 1:15:57 (+9:10)14. Kenjiro Shinozuka (NISSAN PATHFINDER)- 1:16:14 (+9:27)15. Angelo Montico (FORNASARI RR450)- 1:16:56 (+10:09)16. Fernando Hernandez (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 1:16:59 (+10:12)17. Alexey Berkut (MITSUBISHI PAJERO)- 1:17:00 (+10:13)18. Jose Hernandez (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 1:17:23 (+10:36)19. Gerard Benielli (BAT BUGGY)- 1:17:41 (+10:54)20. Ricardo Colombo (MITSUBISHI L200)- 1:17:42 (+10:55)SS2B CLASSIFICATION1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (BMW X3 CC)- 1:15:24 (+**:**:**.*)2. Hiroshi Masuoka (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 1:17:22 (+1:58)3. Joan Roma (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 1:18:24 (+3:00)4. Filipe Campos (BMW X3 CC)- 1:18:58 (+3:34)5. Leonid Novistsky (BMW X3 CC)- 1:22:06 (+6:42)6. Luis Climent (TOYOTA PROTO)- 1:22:07 (+6:43)7. Antonio Mendes (NISSAN NAVARA)- 1:22:12 (+6:48)8. Bernardo Moniz (BMW X3 CC)- 1:22:19 (+6:55)9. Luc Alphand (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 1:23:16 (+7:52)10. Santiago Anglada (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 1:23:20 (+7:56)11. Tonnie Van Deijne (MITSUBISHI L200)- 1:23:46 (+8:22)12. Maurizio Traglio (NISSAN TERRANO)- 1:23:56 (+8:32)13. Fernando Hernandez (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 1:24:06 (+8:42)14. Jose Hernandez (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 1:24:32 (+9:08)15. Kenjiro Shinozuka (NISSAN PATHFINDER)- 1:24:50 (+9:26)16. Boris Gadasin (NISSAN OVERDRIVE)- 1:25:31 (+10:07)17. Rui Sousa (BMW X5)- 1:25:38 (+10:14)18. Bernard Errandonea (SMG BUGGY MONOPLACE)- 1:26:17 (+10:53)19. Francesc Termens (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 1:26:20 (+10:56)20. Miroslav Zapetal (MITSUBISHI L200)- 1:26:36 (+11:12)CLASSIFICATION AFTER LEG 1

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (BMW X3 CC)- 3:59:40 (+**:**:**.*)2. Joan Roma (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 4:04:26 (+4:46)3. Filipe Campos (BMW X3 CC)- 4:09:55 (+10:15)4. Luc Alphand (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 4:10:57 (+11:17)5. Hiroshi Masuoka (MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION)- 4:16:59 (+17:19)6. Luis Climent (TOYOTA PROTO)- 4:25:48 (+26:08)7. Antonio Mendes (NISSAN NAVARA)- 4:26:17 (+26:37)8. Leonid Novistsky (BMW X3 CC)- 4:27:28 (+27:48)9. Tonnie Van Deijne (MITSUBISHI L200)- 4:28:29 (+28:49)10. Maurizio Traglio (NISSAN TERRANO)- 4:28:30 (+28:50)11. Boris Gadasin (NISSAN OVERDRIVE)- 4:28:55 (+29:15)12. Santiago Anglada (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 4:29:53 (+30:13)13. Fernando Hernandez (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 4:30:59 (+31:19)14. Kenjiro Shinozuka (NISSAN PATHFINDER)- 4:31:31 (+31:51)15. Bernardo Moniz (BMW X3 CC)- 4:31:41 (+32:01)16. Jose Hernandez (MITSUBISHI MONTERO)- 4:31:45 (+32:05)17. Rui Sousa (BMW X5)- 4:36:41 (+37:01)18. Giovanni Manfrinato (TOYOTA HDJ100)- 4:39:35 (+39:55)19. Ilya Kutnetsov (MITSUBISHI PAJERO)- 4:40:32 (+40:52)20. Janis Azis (OSCAR O3)