BAJA PORTALEGRE 500

LEG 1 2008 FIA CUP FOR CROSS-COUNTRY BAJASBAJA PORTALEGRE 500

THE NEW MITSUBISHI RACING LANCER MAKES DEBUT ON THE MUDDY SUPER-SPECIAL INPORTUGAL 

Leg 1 (Friday, October 31, 2008),

Nerpor-Nerpor (Portugal):Road section: 0.10km. Road section: 7.17km SS1 (super-special): 6.18kmRoad section: 6.71km. Total distance: 20.16km

The cross-country rallying career of the brand new Mitsubishi Racing Lancer kicked off yesterday with the short super-special which served as appetiser for this weekend's 2008 Baja Portalegre 500.

However, while Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart would obviously have preferred to have seen the new machine's competition record begin with a fastest time on the short, wet 6.18km test, Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (France) lost valuable seconds when they nudged a barrier shortly before the finish and were finally accredited with the day's 7th fastest time.

"With all the rain that has fallen in this part of the world recently, the cold, muddy conditions weren't easy, especially since we came here directly from a very long test in the south of Morocco. I was therefore a little short of match practice over this sort of narrow, slippery terrain," explained Stéphane Peterhansel who has been entrusted with the mission of giving the Racing Lancer its debut on the Baja Portalegre 500. "I failed to settle into a good rhythm straight away, and I slid into a barrier just afew corners before the finish line. It took me some time to manoeuvre the car back onto the stage and a few cars passed us in the process, so we've dropped several places overall."

"It's a shame, but by no means a catastrophe," observed Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Director Dominique Serieys (France). "It's obviously never nice to drop time, but the running order of Stéphane and Jean-Paul on tomorrow's stage could actually give them an advantage for the big day they face. Although we would obviously like to mark the Racing Lancer's first outing with a win, the important thing for us this weekend is to learn as much as we can about the car on this sort of terrain and also validate certain aspects of the development work we have covered during the build-upto January's Dakar."

The French driver admits that he and his co-driver Jean-Paul were in two minds prior to the start of the super-special whether it was preferable to go for a top time, or else take a safe approach to ensure they were notfirst on the road for Saturday's two long tests which make up the bulk of the Portuguese Baja's competitive distance.

 "This afternoon's incident means that the decision was taken for us," reflected Stéphane Peterhansel. "The route of this rally is secret, so we don't know what the conditions will be like exactly, but today's super-special didn't seem to cut up too much. Hopefully the same will apply tomorrow. Given the weather, at least dust won't be a problem."

The second leg of the three-day event is the longest of the weekend, with a total distance of 425.37km to cover, including two stages (140.00km and258.98km) to the southwest and west of Portalegre respectively.

Sunday's programme features a single 110.00km test before the official finish in Nerpor/Portalegre at the end of the morning.

SUPER SPECIAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Boris Gadasin (NISSAN OVERDRIVE)- 5:57.4 (+**:**:**.*)

2. Pedro Gameiro (NISSAN NAVARA)- 6:01.1 (+0:03.7)

3. Ricardo Leal dos Santos (BMW X5)- 6:01.6 (+0:04.2)

4. Filipe Campos (BMW X3)- 6:04.0 (+0:06.6)

5. Miroslav Zapletal (MITSUBISHI L200)- 6:04.1 (+0:06.7)

6. Joao Ramos (TOYOTA RAV 4)- 6:04.3 (+0:06.9)

7. Stephane Peterhansel (MITSUBISHI RACING LANCER)- 6:06.3 (+0:08.9)

8. Tonnie Van Deijne (MITSUBISHI L200 EVO)- 6:06.3 (+0:08.9)

9. Pedro Grancha (NISSAN NAVARA OFF ROAD)- 6:08.8 (+0:11.4)

10. Miguel Barbosa (BMW X3)- 6:10.7 (+0:13.3)

11. Riccardo Colombo (MITSUBISHI L200)- 6:11.0 (+0:13.6)

12. Antonio Mendes (NISSAN NAVARA)- 6:18.2 (+0:20.8)

13. Jose Gameiro (NISSAN NAVARA)- 6:19.0 (+0:21.6)

14. Bernando Moniz da Maia (BMW X3)- 6:20.4 (+0:23.0)

15. Duarte Rocha (BMW PROTO XD)- 6:21.1 (+0:23.7)

16. Rui Sousa (ISUZU D-MAX)- 6:22.5 (+0:25.1)

17. Ilya Kuznetsov (MITSUBISHI L201)- 6:23.1 (+0:25.7)

18. Luis Climent (TOYOTA PROTO)- 6:23.2 (+0:25.8)

19. Francisco Esperto (NISSAN NAVARA)- 6:23.5 (+0:26.1)

20. Mario Raposo (NISSAN NAVARA)- 6:23.6 (+0:26.2)