1996 GRANADA-DAKAR RALLY COMMUNIQUE 17

SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 1996
LEG 14: TAMBACOUNDA - DAKAR (SENEGAL)

DISTANCE: 495KM
STAGE DISTANCE: 20 KM




MITSUBISHI PAJEROS TAKE FABULOUS 1-2-3 VICTORY IN PRODUCTION CLASS ON THE GRANADA - DAKAR


THREE MITSUBISHI PAJEROS FILLED THE TOP THREE PLACES IN THE 1996 GRANADA - DAKAR RALLY, DOMINATING THE PRODUCTION CAR CLASS (T1) IN A MEMORABLE DISPLAY COMPETITIVENESS, STRENGTH AND RELIABILITY.

FRENCH PAIR JEAN-PIERRE STRUGO AND BRUNO CATARELLI WON THE T1 CATEGORY, DRIVING A SHORT-WHEEL BASE PAJERO, FROM SPANIARDS MIGUEL PRIETO AND JAVIER OLAVE IN A SIMILAR MITSUBISHI. PORTUGUESE CREW CARLOS SOUZA AND PASCAL LAROQUE WERE THIRD, ALSO IN A PAJERO. ALL THREE PAJEROS ALSO FILLED THE TOP PLACES IN THE MARATHON CLASS, THE ULTIMATE TEST OF RELIABILITY IN WHICH THE REGULATIONS PROHIBIT THE REPLACEMENT OF NEARLY ALL THE MAJOR PARTS OF THE CAR DURING THE EVENT.

TENS OF THOUSANDS OF SENEGALESE SPECTATORS GATHERED ON THE SHORES OF THE PINK LAKE IN WARM SUNSHINE TO WELCOME THE 50 SURVIVING MOTOR BIKES AND 71 CARS AND TRUCKS, OUT OF A TOTAL 295 STARTERS, TO DAKAR. AFTER THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN PASSES OF MOROCCO, THE DUNES, DESERT PLAINS AND SAND STORMS OF THE MAURITANIAN SAHARA, AND THE LUSH GREENERY OF TROPICAL WEST AFRICA IN MALI, GUINEA AND SENEGAL, THE FINAL 20 KM DRIVE ALONG THE SHORES OF THE PINK LAKE CAME AS WELCOME RELIEF FOR THOSE WHO HAD SURVIVED THE WORLD'S GREATEST TEST OF STRENGTH, STAMINA AND MECHANICAL RELIABILITY OVER 7,579 KM THROUGH NORTH AND WEST AFRICA.

A DELIGHTED STRUGO EXCLAIMED: "I DEDICATE MY VICTORY TODAY TO MY CHILDREN - MY TWO BOYS! I HAVE PARTICIPATED IN 11 'DAKARS' BUT THIS IS MY FIRST WIN IN T1. I AM AMAZED AT THE PERFORMANCE OF THE MITSUBISHI PAJERO - A STANDARD VEHICLE THAT WAS SO TOUGH WITH SUCH GREAT PERFORMANCE AND THE SUPPORT FROM THE MITSUBISHI SONAUTO ASSISTANCE TEAM WAS TREMENDOUS. AFTER THIS RESULT, I WOULD LIKE TO CONTEST THE WHOLE CROSS COUNTRY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BECAUSE THIS 'DAKAR' HAS SHOWN ME THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO WIN IN THE PAJERO."

SECOND PLACED PRIETO BASKED IN THE APPLAUSE OF THE CROWDS IN THE HOT SUNSHINE AND SAID: "I HAVE CELEBRATED MY 10TH 'DAKAR' AND WITHOUT DOUBT THIS WAS THE TOUGHEST. I AM SLIGHTLY DISAPPOINTED NOT TO WIN, BUT AFTER SUCH A HARD RALLY I AM AMAZED AT THIS PAJERO - APART FROM PUNCTURES NOTHING EVER WENT WRONG!"

PORTUGUESE OFF ROAD CHAMPION SOUZA WAS DELIGHTED TO HAVE FINISHED HIS FIRST EVER 'DAKAR' AND REVEALED; "BEFORE I STARTED, I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE RELATIVELY EASY. HOW WRONG I WAS! BUT MY CO-DRIVER WAS SUPERB AND THE PAJERO SO RELIABLE, THEY CARRIED ME THROUGH ALL THE HARDEST PARTS WITH EASE!"

IN THE T3 CATEGORY FOR PROTOTYPE VEHICLES, FRENCH PAIR JEAN-PIERRE FONTENAY AND BRUNO MUSMARRA TOOK A MEMORABLE THIRD OVERALL IN THE TEAM OFF ROAD EXPRESS MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE AFTER AN EVENTFUL RALLY IN WHICH A LACK OF GOOD LUCK PLAYED AGAINST THEM.
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FROM THE START, THE MITSUBISHI PAIR ATTACKED THE RALLY WITH VIGOUR, AND AFTER OVERCOMING AN INITIAL BOUT OF FREQUENT PUNCTURES IN MOROCCO, STARTED TO MOVE TO THE FRONT OF THE FIELD IN THE SAHARA IN MAURITANIA. FONTENAY LOOKED CERTAIN TO TAKE THE LEAD WHEN HE WAS DELAYED FOR TWO HOURS WITH AN UNFORTUNATE SUSPENSION PROBLEM ON LEG 7, FROM ZOUERAT TO ATAR, WHILE LYING IN SECOND PLACE; WITHOUT THIS DELAY, HE WOULD HAVE SURELY WON AFTER SCORING TWO STAGE VICTORIES.

EXPLAINED FONTENAY: "I AM VERY PLEASED TO BE HERE IN DAKAR AND DELIGHTED TO BE ON THE PODIUM. YES, I AM DISAPPOINTED NOT TO HAVE WON BUT FOR ONE MOMENT OF BAD LUCK. BUT THE WHOLE MITSUBISHI TEAM WORKED SO WELL TOGETHER, THE CAR PROVED COMPETITIVE AGAINST THE CITROENS OVER ALL TYPES OF TERRAIN, AND WE HAVE PROVED THAT THE PAJERO IS THE BEST CAR, DESPITE THE RESULT. I HAVE ENJOYED DRIVING ON THIS EVENT AND IT WAS A HARD-FOUGHT RACE AT THE TOP."

JAPANESE DRIVER HIROSHI MASUOKA AND GERMAN NAVIGATOR ANDREAS SCHULZ CREWED THE SECOND MITSUBISHI T3 HOME TO SCORE SIXTH PLACE IN THE TEAM CAR PLAZA MITSUBISHI OIL RALLIART RVR SPACE RUNNER PROTOTYPE, ACHIEVING THEIR MAIN AIM OF REACHING DAKAR INTACT.

MASUOKA ENJOYED A SUPERB RALLY, PROVING THE THE SPACE RUNNER IS AN EXCEPTIONALLY COMPETITIVE MACHINE IN THE "DAKAR". DESPITE HIS INEXPERIENCE IN THIS CAR, MASUOKA CAREFULLY PLAYED HIMSELF IN BEFORE SCORING FASTEST TIME ON LEG 8 FROM ATAR TO ZOUERAT IN THE TOUGHEST DESERT CONDITIONS, TAKING HIM UP TO THIRD OVERALL. HOWEVER, ON THE 12TH LEG TO KAYES IN MALI HE WAS FORCED TO SWERVE TO AVOID AN ON-COMING LOCAL TRUCK, AND DAMAGED HIS SUSPENSION. THEN, ON THE FINAL LONG SECTION FROM LABE, GUINEA, TO TAMBACOUNDA, SENEGAL, THE JAPANESE DRIVER HIT A TREE STUMP AT THE EDGE OF THE ROAD AFTER BEING BLINDED BY THE DUST OF A PREVIOUS CAR AND HAD TO WAIT TO BE RESCUED BY THE FOLLOWING ASSISTANCE TRUCKS.

MASUOKA REVEALED: "I WAS UNLUCKY WITH THOSE TWO INCIDENTS, BUT ON THIS EVENT I WAS LEARNING SO MUCH, AND IF I CONTINUE WITH THIS CAR NEXT YEAR, I WOULD BE VERY CONFIDENT OF SUCCESS. IT IS AN EXCELLENT CAR, AND BY DRIVING CAREFULLY, I HAVE ACHIEVED MY OBJECTIVE OF REACHING DAKAR."

WINNERS OF THE FIRST LEG IN SPAIN, FROM GRANADA TO MALAGA, FRENCH CREW BRUNO SABY AND DOMINIQUE SERIEYS EVENTUALLY FINISHED IN SEVENTH PLACE OVERALL IN THE TEAM PIAA MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE, AFTER A RALLY FRAUGHT WITH BAD LUCK.

LIKE FONTENAY, SABY WAS DELAYED WITH PUNCTURES ON THE OPENING LEGS IN MOROCCO, BUT AS HE FOUGHT BACK, HE SUFFERED THE FIRST OF TWO UNFORTUNATE ROLLS ON THE FIFTH LEG FROM FOUM EL HASSAN TO SMARA. AFTER THAT, THE FRENCHMAN ACTED AS FAST ASSISTANCE TO SUPPORT MASUOKA AND FONTENAY.

SABY REPORTED: "MY PAJERO WAS SUPERBLY EFFICIENT IN ALL THE DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES WE FOUND OURSELVES IN. I WAS PARTICULARLY IMPRESSED BY THE PERFORMANCE OF THE ENGINE WHICH IS EXCEPTIONAL - NEVER A PROBLEM. THIS MITSUBISHI TEAM IS OF THE HIGHEST CALIBRE AND I WAS HAPPY TO PLAY A SUPPORTING ROLE. I ENJOYED DRIVING THE PAJERO, AND I HOPE WE GET THE CHANCE TO DO MANY MORE EVENTS IN IT."

JAPANESE DRIVER KENJIRO SHINOZUKA, CO-DRIVEN BY FRENCHMAN HENRI MAGNE, LOOKED CERTAIN TO BE ONE OF THE LEADING CONTENDERS THIS YEAR AFTER WINNING THE PROLOGUE IN GRANADA, BUT FELL OUT OF CONTENTION AFTER HITTING A HIDDEN, DEEP GULLY ACROSS THE ROAD ON NEW YEAR'S DAY, ON THE THIRD LEG FROM OUJDA TO ER RACHIDIA. LIKE SABY, HE PLAYED A SUPPORTING ROLE FOR THE TEAM THEREAFTER, EVENTUALLY FINISHING 16TH IN THE TEAM MITSUBISHI OIL RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE.

SHINOZUKA COMMENTED: "I THINK THE ROUTE THIS YEAR WAS VERY GOOD. IT HAD TWISTY SECTIONS, ROCKY ROADS, DUNES, FAST PARTS...ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING! IT WAS UNFORTUNATE THAT WE HAD SUCH BAD LUCK AND WE COULD NOT ATTACK FOR THE LEAD, BUT THAT'S RALLYING AND I LOOK FORWARD TO THE NEXT CHALLENGE!"

MITSUBISHI ALSO ENJOYED SUCCESS IN THE T2 CATEGORY, THE CLASS FOR MODIFIED PRODUCTION CARS. FORMER FORMULA ONE DRIVER PATRICK TAMBAY AND EX-MULTIPLE "DAKAR" WINNER RENE METGE DROVE A MITSUBISHI PAJERO TO SECOND PLACE BEHIND DELAVERGNE'S NISSAN.

SAID TAMBAY: "I REALLY ENJOYED THIS ADVENTURE AND I AM HAPPY TO SEE PINK LAKE! I AM THOROUGHLY IMPRESSED WITH THE PAJERO AND THE MITSUBISHI SONAUTO ASSISTANCE WHICH WAS EXTRAORDINARY!"

CO-DRIVER METGE, WHO ALSO SHARED SOME OF THE DRIVING, ADDED: "THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I HAVE CO-DRIVEN AND IT WAS VERY EDUCATIONAL! THE CAR WAS SOLID AND RELIABLE, AND WE NEVER HAD TO WORRY ABOUT MECHANICAL PROBLEMS WHICH MADE IT ALL THE MORE ENJOYABLE."`

OF THE ORIGINAL 29 MITSUBISHIS THAT STARTED THE EVENT, 12 COMPLETED THE JOURNEY TO DAKAR.

THE 1996 GRANADA - DAKAR WAS EVENTUALLY WON BY PIERRE LARTIGUE OF FRANCE, DRIVING A CITROEN, WITH TEAM MATE AND FELLOW FRENCHMAN PHILIPPE WAMBERGUE SECOND.

SIMPLY FINISHING SUCH A GRUELLING EVENT WAS AN ACHIEVEMENT IN ITSELF, AND THE HAPPY SURVIVORS WHO COMPLETED THE 6,280 KM OF STAGES WILL CERTAINLY DESERVE A BRIEF REST IN THE SCENIC WEST AFRICAN HOLIDAY RESORT OF DAKAR, BEFORE THE RIGOURS OF THE POST-PRIZE PRESENTATION PARTY TONIGHT!

SS16 TAMBACOUNDA - DAKAR 20KM
1 - A. VATANEN - CITROEN - T3 - 00:19:24
2 - B. SABY - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 00:21:36
3 - P. LARTIGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 00:21:55
4 - JP FONTENAY - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 00:22:02
5 - K. SHINOZUKA - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 00:23:55
6 - P. WAMBERGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 00:23:57
7 - H. MASUOKA - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 00:25:20
8 - S. SERVIA - CITROEN - T3 - 00:25:55
9 - G. VISMARA - SSANGYONG - T3 - 00:26:39
10- E. ARGAZZI - NISSAN - T2 - 00:28:34


GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER SS16
1 - P. LARTIGUE/ M. PERRIN (FR) - CITROEN - T3 - 65:44:38
2 - P. WAMBERGUE/ F. GALLAGHER(FR/GB) - CITROEN - T3 - +01:11:54
3 - JP.FONTENAY/ B. MUSMARRA (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +01:42:13
4 - A. VATANEN/ G. PICARD (SF/FR) - CITROEN - T3 - +01:49:53
5 - S. SERVIA/ J. PUIG (SP) - CITROEN - T3 - +03:16:45
6 - K. MASUOKA/ A. SCHULZ (J/D) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +06:26:20
7 - B. SABY/ D. SERIEYS (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +11:06:06
8 - G. VISMARA/ M. CAMBIAGHI (ITA) - SSANGYONG - T3 - +20:22:40
9 - T. DELAVERGNE/ L. ARGUELLES (FR) - NISSAN - T2 - +21:17:09
10- JP STRUGO/ JP. CATARELLI (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +23:38:51
11- M. PRIETO/ J. OLAVE (SP) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +24:27:42
12- C. SOUZA/ P. LARROQUE (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +25:25:14
13- P. TAMBAY/ R. METGE (CH/FR) - MITSUBISHI - T2 - +25:34:00
14- V. MOSKOVSKIKH/ V. KOUZMINE (RUS) - KAMAZ - T4 - +26:18:39
15- K. LOPRAIS/ TOMECEK (CS) - TATRA - T4 - +26:33:06
16- K. SHINOZUKA/ H. MAGNE (J/FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +26:35:10
17- G. SARRAZIN/ T. FUJISAWA (FR/J) - TOYOTA - T1 - +26:59:02
18- T. ANDRETTA / M. SIMONI (ITA) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +27:41:17
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Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation