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Mitsubishi team completes 2nd test session in Morocco

APN, PR, Pont-de-Vaux, France,
22nd September 2005.

New MPR12 versions in punishing endurance test.

The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Team has returned from two-week test and development session in Morocco with new MPR12 versions of the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution put through a punishing endurance test.

Team drivers Stéphane Peterhansel, Hiroshi Masuoka, Joan 'Nani' Roma and Luc Alphand put the revised new Pajero/Montero Evolution through a series of rigorous tests over rocky and desert-type terrain in the remote Moroccan deserts.

The endurance test was carried out over 9,000 kilometres and was attended by a full squad of drivers, co-drivers, management and team technicians, It was the second test of its kind that the Japanese manufacturer has carried out this summer.

"It was a successful test for the whole team and we remain on target with our detailed preparations for the Dakar Rally," said MMSP's Team Director Dominique Serieys. "We planned the test so that we carried out rigorous endurance driving with each of our four drivers. They all had time behind the wheel of the new MPR12 over gravel, in sand dunes and in camel grass. The outside temperatures were as high as 42-45 degrees Centigrade on some days, but we were delighted with the results of the test. 'Nani' Roma and Stéphane drove during the first week and Hiroshi and Luc took over for the second week."

Defending Dakar champion Peterhansel was delighted with the results of the Moroccan test. "It was a very useful exercise for me," said the Frenchman. "I had a lot of time behind the wheel of the new car and there was not one technical problem. The improvements the team have made to the suspension and engine characteristics were really positive and the ride was more comfortable. The new car has proved its durability and I am looking very confident to the Dakar again next year."

The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Team will continue to work on revisions to the new Pajero/Montero Evolution at the team's headquarters in Pont-de-Vaux, near Lyon, with the test and development program likely to continue over the coming weeks in readiness for the start of the 2006 Dakar Rally in Lisbon on New Year's Day.

Continuing Mitsubishi's build-up to the world's most famous off-road rally, the Pont-de-Vaux-based team will enter two cars in both the Portalegre-based Baja Anta Da Serra 500 in October and the UAE Desert Challenge, the final round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, in the United Arab Emirates in mid-November. 

Alphand/Picard and Masuoka/Maimon will compete in Portugal and Peterhansel/Cottret and Roma/Magne in the UAE. For both events the crews will use the modified MPR11 chassis to make sure that preparations for the latest MPR12 version's debut on the Dakar can continue without delay.

“After the successful Morocco test, we must ensure that our drivers are fully-prepared," added Serieys. "The main goal of the Baja in Portugal and the longer event in Dubai is to further train our drivers in race conditions. We have a strong team and have maintained the same drivers who achieved such a great result on this year's Dakar Rally. The next two rallies should be an excellent training environment."

The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol Team recently extended its partnership with the Spanish oil company Repsol and will enter four Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions in the 2006 Dakar Rally, which starts in Lisbon on New Year's Day.

Defending champions Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret will be joined by fellow countrymen and last year's runners-up Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard, twice former winner Hiroshi Masuoka and new co-driver Pascal Maimon and this year's Baja Spain winners Joan 'Nani' Roma and the experienced Henri Magne for the 15-day African classic.

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