MORE 'DAKAR SERIES' ACTION FOR REPSOL MITSUBISHI RALLIART TEAM IN PORTUGAL
Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team's fourth competitive outing of the 2008 season marks a return to the extreme west of the European continent for the inaugural 'Pax Rally Portugal'.
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and its motorsport unit MMSP have entered three Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR13s for Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (France), Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (France) and Joan 'Nani' Roma/Lucas Cruz (Spain). They are the same three crews who formed the team's triumphant line-up on last May's Rali Transiberico which was won by Luc Alphand with his co-driver Gilles Picard.
Pax Rally is the second contest to figure in the newly created Dakar Series. It fittingly features a return to Lisbon where entrants had gathered just after the New Year festivities for the start of the 2008 Dakar, only to see the annual African classic cancelled at the last moment.
Shortly after this disappointing blow, the Dakar organisers (ASO) announced plans to introduce a new cross-country rally series which officially kicked off with last April's Central Europe Rally. Mitsubishi's Stéphane Peterhansel led for much of this event through Hungary and Romania, but was dislodged from top spot shortly before the finish of what turned out to be one of the closest cross-country events ever.
The five-day Pax Rally promises to be just as thrilling, with Mitsubishi fielding a trio of Pajero/Montero Evolutions for what will be one of the final participation of the discipline's most successful petrol-engined prototype.
Scrutineering for the Pax Rally will take place in the centre of Lisbon on Tuesday September 9, with competitive action beginning the following morning over mixed terrain similar to that encountered during the Transiberico.
Following an overnight halt in Castelo Branco to the northeast of the country's capital and close to the Spanish border with 230km of selective section, the second stage will bring competitors back to the Lisbon region with 220km, while the third day will take the form of a loop, twice of 100km to the east of the Lisbon. The penultimate leg will see survivors strike south towards the Algarve with 170km of selective section and which takes in some of the territory that hosted the early action of the 2007 Dakar. The event finishes in Portimao on Sunday September 14 following a relatively short loop 65km through the challenging bush and scrubland of Portugal's southern tip. The total distance of the PAX Rally will be 2,144km including 885km competitive section.