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Transiberico Rally: Mitsubishi takes three Pajero Evo in Portugal

One month after kicking off its 2008 campaign with the Central Europe Rally in Hungary and Romania, Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart will travel to the other side of Europe for its second competitive outing of the season, Portugal's Transiberico Rally. Mitsubishi and its motorsport unit MMSP will contest the FIA Cross-Country Worldcup event with a line-up of two Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR13 for St├ęphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (France) and Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (France), plus a diesel-powered MPR14 for Juan 'Nani' Roma/Lucas Cruz (Spain).

Roma, who finished 2nd overall with the Pajero/Montero Evolution on the Portuguese event in 2005 and 2006, has been entrusted with continuing the important development groundwork with the new MPR14 which made its debut in the hands of team-mate Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan) on April's Central Europe Rally. The maiden appearance of the new diesel-powered MPR14 was prematurely halted on that event, however, when Masuoka's co-driver Pascal Maimon (France) fractured his ankle in a freak accident. Even so, the experience still enabled the team to gather a great deal of valuable data about the MPR14 and it now intends to profit from the five days of competition in Portugal to build on this information.

Like those of Hungary and Romania, the stages of the Rali Transiberico are more like the sort of terrain associated with the WRC (World Rally Championship) than with traditional cross-country rally territory. The Pajero/Montero Evolution's unique pedigree was essentially forged in the wide, open spaces of northwest Africa, but the Portuguese fixture forms an important part of Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart's preparations for the 2009 Dakar which marks a switch to South America where the terrain promises to be much more varied than the usual trans-Sahara trail.

As in 2007, the 2008 Rali Transiberico will start and finish in the Portuguese casino resort of Estoril, west of Lisbon. The format includes an incursion into Spain with an overnight stop in Badajoz, as well as bivouacs in Castelo Branco and Evora which are respectively northeast and east of Lisbon.

Again compared with 2007, the programme of this year's event features an extra day of competition which takes the total number of stages to nine, the majority of which - according to the organisers - will be about 200km in length for a total competitive distance of around 1,520km and a total route length of approximately 2,600km.

After Portugal, Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart's 2008 calendar continues with the Baja Espana Aragon (July 17-20), the scene of an emphatic one-two finish for the Pajero/Montero Evolution in the hands of St├ęphane Peterhansel and Nani Roma in 2007.

2008/05/16 | 16:13 CET | Editor: MR/HS/MMSP

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