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Baja Spain Aragon 2007 Special-Newssection (FIA Baja Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the Baja Spain Aragon 2007, 2nd round of the FIA Worldcup for International Bajas. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

Baja Spain: Victory for Mitsubishi and Stephane Peterhansel.

A perfectly paced run from Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret (France) has handed victory in the 2007 Baja Espana to Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart after 795km of exacting stages through Spain’s Aragon region. Second-placed Joan ’Nani’ Roma/Lucas Cruz (Spain) completed the team’s successful weekend to secure a welcome one-two finish at this afternoon’s podium ceremony in Zaragoza.

Making his return to the competitive arena for the first time since winning January’s Dakar, Peterhansel profited from the first real stage on Friday (SS1) to bed himself in before turning up the speed to take command the next morning thanks to a fastest time on SS2. He then topped the timesheets again on both attempts at the marathon 252km test to finish 52 seconds clear of former WRC champ Colin McRae who was later handed a time penalty for a technical infringement. Peterhansel’s Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero performed faultlessly throughout and the Frenchman was delighted with the team’s recent work on the car.

Team-mate Roma rounded off Mitsubishi’s assertive weekend by claiming second place on home soil. The Spaniard ran third for much of the event after losing ground following an off on SS1 and then collecting a puncture on Saturday morning’s SS2. However, a clear run the same afternoon enabled him to showcase his talent thanks to an equal-fastest time on the long SS3 (level with Peterhansel!). The final day saw him ease off slightly to make sure of reaching the finish and his efforts were rewarded with the silver medal after McRae was awarded his time penalty.

Peterhansel recognised that it had taken him a little time to re-familiarise himself with this sort of sprint event on Leg 1. He then put that early lesson to maximum effect, however, to post three fastest times from a possible four. "It was extremely close from start to finish and, even once in front, we couldn’t afford to relax. On the final day, it was important not to crack so long as McRae was still within striking distance behind us," he explained after the finish. "I have to say that my car was perfect. It didn’t give us the slightest problem and allowed us to attack without worrying about pushing the mechanicals too hard. The handling was excellent from the outset and we profited from the different service halts to progressively fine-tune the set-up to obtain an even more precise front-end."

Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team director Dominique Serieys was obviously delighted with the performance of his drivers and the two Pajero/Montero Evolutions in Spain and underlined the value of the ongoing work the team has put in to adapt the car’s suspension to this sort of event. "It was a very close event and the competition was of a very high standard," he said. "Stéphane and Nani showed that they are both capable of matching the likes of Colin McRae on this sort of terrain and that’s very encouraging for the future. Today’s result is also a fantastic reward for all the work the team has put in on the set-up. We essentially focused on optimising traction, balance and steering precision and that clearly paid off."

Nani Roma, who headed home the team’s one-two on this event two years ago (ahead of Peterhansel), finished second overall in front of home fans but admits he wasn’t entirely happy with his weekend: "I found a good pace on Friday and Saturday but I made a few mistakes that you can’t really afford to make at this level of competition. Given this morning’s positions, it was difficult to find the right rhythm today, too, but in the end we obtained a great result for Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart. Indeed, I would like to thank everyone in the team for giving me such a competitive car and for making today’s result possible."

The next outing for Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart sees the team travel to Argentina for the Por la Pampas Rally (August 27-September 5), round three of the 2007 FIA Cross-Country World Cup. Luc Alphand / Gilles Picard (France) and Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan) / Pascal Maimon (France) are scheduled to fly Mitsubishi’s colours on the South American event.

2007/07/23 | 11:06 CET | Editor: MR/HS/MMSP

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