1996 GRANADA-DAKAR RALLY
COMMUNIQUE 15

FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 1996
LEG 13: KAYES (MALI) - LABE (GUINEA)

DISTANCE: 520 KM
STAGE DISTANCE: 516 KM
STAGE DISTANCE TO FINISH: 1170KM




FONTENAY LEADS MITSUBISHI CHALLENGE THROUGH TROPICAL WEST AFRICA


THE SENEGALESE CAPITAL DAKAR REMAINS A DISTANT GOAL EVEN AFTER THE TOUGH 13TH LEG OF THE GRANADA - DAKAR 1996 WHICH TOOK THE REMAINING 54 MOTORBIKES AND 96 CARS AND TRUCKS 520 KM FROM KAYES, IN MALI, TO LABE, GUINEA TODAY, CROSSING A WIDE VARIETY OF TERRAIN INCLUDING MOUNTAIN TRACKS, FAST LATERITE ROADS, AND NARROW PATHS THROUGH THE JUNGLE.

FRENCH CREW JEAN-PIERRE FONTENAY AND BRUNO MUSMARRA REMAIN IN THIRD PLACE IN THE OVERALL STANDINGS, AFTER SETTING FOURTH FASTEST TODAY, DESPITE TWO PUNCTURES, IN THEIR TEAM OFF ROAD EXPRESS MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE.

SAID FONTENAY: "AFTER THE START, THE ROAD WAS LIKE A MOTORWAY FOR ABOUT 100 KM. BUT THEN WE ENTERED THE BUSH WHERE THE TRACKS WERE ONLY THE WIDTH OF MY PAJERO, AND QUITE TWISTY. WE HAD A 'RACE OF PUNCTURES' WITH LARTIGUE'S CITROEN. I PASSED HIM, THEN I HAD A PUNCTURE AND HE PASSED ME, AND THEN HE HAD A PUNCTURE AND I PASSED HIM AND SO ON. I HAD TWO PUNCTURES TODAY.

"THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES TODAY WERE THE TWO WATER CROSSINGS. BEFORE EACH, WE HAD TO STOP AND TAPE UP THE AIR INTAKES SO THAT THE ENGINE WOULDN'T BREATH IN WATER. AFTER THAT, THE MAIN DIFFICULTY WAS AVOIDING THE ANT HILLS. IN AFRICA THEY ARE VERY BIG AND VERY HARD, AND IF YOU HIT ONE, YOU PUNCTURE A TYRE, SO WE HAD TO BE CAREFUL.IT WAS A VERY TRYING DAY."

ONE OF THE TWO WATER CROSSINGS TODAY ALMOST BROUGHT THE RALLY TO A HALT. AS THE EARLY MORNING COOL MIST GAVE WAY ONCE AGAIN TO SEARING HEAT AND HUMIDITY, ONLY 26 CARS MANAGED TO CROSS ONE OF THE RIVERS WHICH, WHILE NOT PARTICULARLY DEEP, HAD TURNED INTO A QUAGMIRE WITH LARGE BOULDERS AND HOLES TO CATCH THE UNWARY; SEVERAL CARS AND TRUCKS BECAME SWAMPED AND BLOCKED THE ROUTE. THE ORGANISERS THEN ALLOWED THE REST OF THE FIELD TO BYPASS THE RIVER, AND DRIVE THE REST OF THE STAGE IN CONVOY AS A LIAISON SECTION. THE STEWARDS WILL DECIDE LATER TONIGHT WHAT TIME TO AWARD THESE COMPETITORS.

JAPANESE DRIVER, HIROSHI MASUOKA, CO-DRIVEN BY GERMAN ANDREAS SCHULZ, SURVIVED THE ARDUOUS LEG TO GUINEA WITHOUT PROBLEMS TO FINISH THE STAGE SIXTH QUICKEST AND FIFTH IN THE INTERIM STANDINGS IN THE TEAM CAR PLAZA MITSUBISHI RALLIART RVR SPACE RUNNER PROTOTYPE.

HE REPORTED: "IT WAS EASY TO BEGIN WITH, BUT THE MOUNTAIN SECTION WAS VERY ROCKY, TWISTY AND BUMPY, AND I HAD TO DRIVE EXTREMELY CAREFULLY BECAUSE I NOW HAVE DAKAR IN MY SIGHTS. IT WAS A VERY LONG STAGE; NOT IN TERMS OF DISTANCE, BUT THE TIME IT TOOK TO COMPLETE. ON ONE OF THE WASTER CROSSINGS THE WATER WAS RIGHT UP TO MY WAIST! I SAW QUITE A FEW COMPETITORS IN DIFFICULTY ON THOSE BITS. IT WAS A VERY HARD DAY, BUT MY CAR RAN PERFECTLY WHICH MADE IT BETTER THAN FOR MOST."
.../...
FELLOW COUNTRYMAN KENJIRO SHINOZUKA, PARTNERED BY FRENCH NAVIGATOR HENRI MAGNE, WAS EIGHTH FASTEST IN THE TEAM MITSUBISHI OIL RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE.

SHINOZUKA COMMENTED: "I DROVE VERY CAREFULLY ALL THE WAY FROM THE START, BUT I STILL MANAGED TO COLLECT THREE PUNCTURES, ALTHOUGH I DON'T KNOW WHY."

JUST AHEAD WAS FRENCH PAIR BRUNO SABY AND DOMINIQUE SERIEYS, SEVENTH QUICKEST IN THE TEAM PIAA MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE.

SABY REVEALED: "I HAD A PUNCTURE JUST ONE KM BEFORE THE END OF THE STAGE. NORMALLY I WOULD CONTINUE TO THE END OF THE STAGE, BUT RATHER THAN RISK ANY DAMAGE AT THIS LATE POINT IN THE EVENT, I DECIDED TO STOP AND CHANGE THE WHEEL. ONE OF THE BIG DIFFICULTIES FOR ME TODAY WAS OVERTAKING OTHER CARS AND MOTORBIKES. THE STAGE WAS VERY DUSTY IN PLACES, AND IT WAS DIFFICULT TO SEE PAST TO OVERTAKE SAFELY. WE PASSED THROUGH MANY VILLAGES AND THERE WERE THOUSANDS OF SPECTATORS WAVING US ON OUR WAY." LARTIGUE STILL HEADS THE FIELD FOR CITROEN, FOLLOWED BY TEAM MATE PHILIPPE WAMBERGUE.

WITH JUST ONE LONG STAGE REMAINING TOMORROW, AT 620 KM, IT NEVERTHELESS CANNOT BE SAID THAT THE GRANADA-DAKAR HAS RUN ITS COURSE; FOR IF TODAY IS ANYTHING TO GO BY, THE DRIVE THROUGH THE BUSH AND JUNGLE OF TROPICAL WEST AFRICA CONTAINS MANY HIDDEN DANGERS AND CHALLENGES BEFORE THE FINAL DRIVE INTO DAKAR AND THE 35 KM SHOWCASE STAGE FINISHING AT PINK LAKE BEACH IN TWO DAYS' TIME.


SS14 KAYES - LABE 516KM
1 - A. VATANEN - CITROEN - T3 - 06:15:00
2 - P. LARTIGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 06:16:13
3 - P. WAMBERGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 06:19:24
4 - JP FONTENAY - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 06:19:48
5 - S. SERVIA - CITROEN - T3 - 06:26:35
6 - H. MASUOKA - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 06:34:50
7 - B. SABY - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 07:00:08
8 - K. SHINOZUKA - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 07:04:26
9 - JL SCHLESSER - SCHLESSER - T3 - 07:37:31
10- D. HOUSIEAUX - NISSAN - T1 - 07:46:08


GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER SS14
1 - P. LARTIGUE/ M. PERRIN (FR) - CITROEN - T3 - 60:52:16
2 - P. WAMBERGUE/ F. GALLAGHER(FR/GB) - CITROEN - T3 - +01:11:06
3 - JP.FONTENAY/ B. MUSMARRA (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +01:46:55
4 - A. VATANEN/ G. PICARD (SF/FR) - CITROEN - T3 - +02:02:03
5 - K. MASUOKA/ A. SCHULZ (J/D) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +02:44:37
6 - S. SERVIA/ J. PUIG (SP) - CITROEN - T3 - +03:17:23
7 - B. SABY/ D. SERIEYS (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +10:30:58
8 - G. VISMARA/ M. CAMBIAGHI (ITA) - SSANGYONG - T3 - +16:59:47
9 - T. DELAVERGNE/ L. ARGUELLES (FR) - NISSAN - T2 - +20:02:26
10- JL.SCHLESSER (FR) - SCHLESSER ORIG - T3 - +20:17:22
11- JP STRUGO/ JP. CATARELLI (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +21:57:24
12- M. PRIETO/ J. OLAVE (SP) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +23:09:58
13- C. SOUZA/ P. LAROQUE (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +24:07:50
14- P. TAMBAY/ R. METGE (CH/FR) - MITSUBISHI - T2 - +24:15:43
15- G. SARRAZIN/ T. FUJISAWA (FR/J) - TOYOTA - T1 - +25:01:44
16- K. SHINOZUKA/ H. MAGNE (J/FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +25:48:21
17- T. ANDRETTA / M. SIMONI (ITA) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +26:00:04
...


TOMORROW, SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 1996
LEG 13: LABE (GUINEA) - TAMBACOUNDA (SENEGAL)
DISTANCE: 675 KM
SPECIAL STAGE: 620 KM

THE END IS IN SIGHT FOR THE SURVIVORS IN THIS YEAR'S "DAKAR"; BUT ONE, FINAL HURDLE REMAINS: ONE MORE LONG COMPETITIVE SECTION - THE 620 KM STAGE TO TAMBACOUNDA.

THE FINAL LONG BLAST THROUGH TROPICAL WEST AFRICA WILL TAKE THE CARS, TRUCKS AND MOTORBIKES OVER A ROUTE THAT ALTERNATES BETWEEN NARROW, TWISTING BUSH TRACKS AND FASTER ROADS, A COMBINATION PECULIAR TO GUINEA. THEN THEY ENTER SENEGAL, ENJOYING FAST BUT SLIPPERY LATERITE TRACKS.

THE FIRST MOTORBIKE WILL LEAVE LABE AT 07:00, AND IS DUE TO FINISH IN TAMBACOUNDA AT AROUND 15:30. RUNNING LATER AS USUAL, THE FIRST OF THE CARS AND TRUCKS WILL START AT 08:20, AND IS EXPECTED IN THE FINAL BIVOUAC OF THE 1996 "DAKAR" AT APPROXIMATELY 16:50.



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Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation