1996 GRANADA-DAKAR RALLY
COMMUNIQUE 5

TUESDAY, JANUARY 2, 1996
LEG 4: ER RACHIDIA - FOUM EL HASSAN (MOROCCO)

DISTANCE: 776 KM
STAGE DISTANCE: 540 KM
DISTANCE TO FINISH: 5184 KM




MITSUBISHIS SURVIVE GRUELLING MARATHON STAGE TO STAY IN CONTENTION


SURVIVING THE MOST GRUELLING LEG YET OF THE GRANADA - DAKAR '96, FRENCH CREW JEAN-PIERRE FONTENAY AND BRUNO MUSMARRA SKILLFULLY PICKED THEIR WAY ACROSS THE ROCKY DRAA VALLEY IN THEIR TEAM OFF ROAD EXPRESS MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE TO FINISH THE LEG IN FOURTH PLACE OVERALL, WHILE MANAGING TO RESCUE A STRICKEN MOTORBIKE COMPETITOR IN THE PROCESS!

"SHORTLY AFTER THE START WE CAME ACROSS A BIKE RIDER WHO HAD FALLEN," REPORTED FONTENAY. "WE STOPPED AND GOT OUT OF THE PAJERO AND WENT OVER TO CHECK IF HE WAS OK, AND THEN SWITCHED ON HIS RESCUE BEACON FOR HIM SO THAT THE ORGANISERS COULD FIND AND RESCUE HIM. ONCE WE WERE SURE HE WAS OK, I DROVE AS HARD AS I COULD TO MAKE UP THE TIME."

MITSUBISHI RALLIART TEAM DIRECTOR ULLRICH BREHMER FOLLOWED FONTENAY'S PROGRESS OVER THE DIFFICULT STAGE IN A HELICOPTER, AND COMMENTED: "JEAN-PIERRE WAS DRIVING VERY WELL TODAY, AND I WAS VERY ENCOURAGED TO SEE THAT THE PAJERO IS CLEARLY FASTER AND BETTER AT COPING WITH THE CONDITIONS THAN ALL THE OTHERS."

FONTENAY'S TEAM MATES BRUNO SABY AND DOMINIQUE SERIEYS, DRIVING THE TEAM PIAA MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE, HAD HELD FOURTH OVERNIGHT AT ER RACHIDIA, BUT FELL FOUL OF THE ROUGH CONDITIONS, SUFFERING TWO PUNCTURES THAT DROPPED THEM TO FIFTH.

DRIVING THROUGH SANDY VALLEYS, UP STEEP DESERT ESCARPMENTS AND ACROSS ROCKY PLATEAUS IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE 540 KM MARATHON STAGE, THE COMPETITORS THEN PLUNGED INTO THE DRAA VALLEY WHICH BECAME TWISTIER AND EVEN MORE ROUGH BEFORE THE WELCOME RESPITE OF THE 135 KM TARMAC LIAISON SECTION TO FOUM EL HASSAN. AS THE EVENT HEADED FURTHER SOUTH, HIGH TEMPERATURES STARTED TO BECOME EVIDENT IN THE STRONG SUNSHINE, REACHING A HIGH OF 26 DEGREES CELSIUS.

THE ROUGH SURFACE OF THE ROAD CAUSED ENORMOUS PROBLEMS FOR MOST OF THE FASTER CARS THAT QUICKLY CAUGHT THE MOTORBIKES. AS THEY APPROACHED, LARGE STONES AND ROCKS THROWN UP BY MOTORBIKE WHEELS SCRABBLING FOR GRIP HIT THE WINDSCREENS OF THE CARS AS THEY TRIED TO PASS, CAUSING CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE.

SABY EXPLAINED: "THERE WERE MANY BIKES IN FRONT OF US, AND WHEN WE TRIED TO PASS, ROCKS AND STONES CRACKED AND CHIPPED THE WINDSCREEN SO BADLY THAT I COULD BARELY SEE THE ROAD AHEAD. BUT MY BIGGEST DELAY TODAY WAS BECAUSE OF PUNCTURES. UNFORTUNATELY I HAD TWO REAR LEFT PUNCTURES, ONE AFTER THE OTHER. AFTER THAT, I HAD TO DRIVE WITH GREAT CAUTION TO AVOID FURTHER PUNCTURES."

JAPANESE DRIVER HIROSHI MASUOKA, CO-DRIVEN BY GERMAN ANDREAS SCHULZ IN THE TEAM CAR PLAZA MITSUBISHI OIL RVR SPACE RUNNER PROTOTYPE ALSO SUFFERED TWO PUNCTURES BECAUSE OF SHARP ROCKS IN THE ROAD. BUT HE SAID: "I LIKED THIS LEG BETTER THAN PREVIOUS DAYS; BECAUSE IT WAS A MARATHON STAGE AND WE'RE ARE NOT ALLOWED ANY MECHANICS TO SERVICE THE CAR TONIGHT, WE HAD TO DRIVE WITH PRUDENCE WHICH IS WHAT I PREFER."

MASUOKA'S FELLOW COUNTRYMAN, KENJIRO SHINOZUKA, BRAVELY CONTINUED IN THE GRANADA - DAKAR IN THE TEAM MITSUBISHI OIL RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE, CO-DRIVEN BY FRENCHMAN HENRI MAGNE. THE MITSUBISHI PAIR HAD TO RESTART THIS MORNING NEARLY AT THE BACK OF THE FIELD, OVER 130 PLACES BEHIND THE LEADERS, AFTER A MASSIVE DELAY ON THE PREVIOUS LEG WHEN THEY PLUNGED INTO AN UNSEEN DRY RIVERBED AND DAMAGED THE PAJERO'S SUSPENSION. THEY WERE RESCUED BY A FOLLOWING MITSUBISHI SUPPORT TRUCK LATER IN THE DAY AND, AFTER REPAIRS WERE COMPLETED, THEY ARRIVED SAFELY IN EL RACHIDIA LAST NIGHT.

SHINOZUKA AND MAGNE MADE AN HEROIC RECOVERY TO TAKE TENTH FASTEST IN TODAY'S SPCIAL STAGE WITH A TIME OF 6 HOURS 18 MINUTES AND 14 SECONDS.THEY PERFORMED SUPERBLY AVOIDING PROBLEMS TO ARRIVE SAFELY IN FOUM EL HASSAN FULLY RECOVERED FROM THE EARLIER SET BACK.

ARI VATANEN CONTINUED TO LEAD THE RACE TO DAKAR IN HIS CITROEN AFTER SETTING THIRD FASTEST TODAY, WITH HIS TEAM MATE PIERRE LARTIGUE SETTING SECOND QUICKEST BEHIND WAMBERGUE TO HOLD SECOND POSITION OVERALL.WAMBERGUE HELD THIRD AT THE END OF THE LEG, JUST AHEAD OF FONTENAY AND SABY'S MITSUBISHIS.SPANIARD SALVADOR SERVIA DROPPED BEHIND THE MITSUBISHIS WHEN HIS CITROEN DEVELOPED TURBO PROBLEMS DURING TODAY'S LEG.

THAI RALLY DRIVER HANTRAKUL SAKCHAI, CO-DRIVEN BY SUWANARATT TULL, WAS ENJOYING HIS FIRST ATTEMPT AT THE "DAKAR", DRIVING A MITSUBISHI PAJERO IN THE T2 CATEGORY. HE REVEALED: "IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY DREAM TO DO THIS EVENT, AND HERE I AM ON MY FIRST RALLY IN AFRICA. THIS IS A BIG ADVENTURE FOR ME, AND IT'S VERY EXCITING. IT'S VERY DIFFERENT TO RALLYING IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION WHERE I DRIVE A MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION III. FOR A START, I HAVE NOT SEEN SAND BEFORE! HOWEVER, MY CO-DRIVER HAS PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE OF THIS EVENT AND THAT GIVES ME CONFIDENCE. I AM VERY HAPPY WITH MY PAJERO, ESPECIALLY THE SUSPENSION AND ENGINE PERFORMANCE. HOWEVER, IN THAILAND WE DRIVE ON THE RIGHT-HAND SIDE OF THE CAR, AND FOR THE FIRST TIME I AM USING A LEFT-HAND DRIVE VEHICLE!"

ALSO NEW TO THIS EVENT IS THE MITSUBISHI "FR415" 4WD-RS TRUCK DRIVEN BY GILBERT VERSINO, A VASTLY EXPERIENCED "DAKAR" TRUCK DRIVER. HE REPORTED: "THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THIS MITSUBISHI TRUCK HAS BEEN DRIVEN IN FULL COMPETITION, BUT EVERYTHING HAS BEEN RUNNING SUPERBLY. WE HAVE HAD NO PROBLEMS AT ALL, APART FROM SOME FINE-TUNING. THIS TRUCK HAS GREAT POTENTIAL. THE BRAKING IS SUPERB WITH DISC BRAKING ALL ROUND. EVERYTHING HAS BEEN PERFECT SO FAR IN MOROCCO, WHICH IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF THE RALLY FOR TRUCKS. AFTER THIS, THE REST OF THE EVENT SHOULD SEEM EASY!"


SS 5 ER RACHIDIA - FOUM EL HASSAN 540KM
1 - P. WAMBERGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 05:07:06
2 - P. LARTIGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 05:08:46
3 - A. VATANEN - CITROEN - T3 - 05:09:17
4 - JP FONTENAY - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 05:11:50
5 - B. SABY - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 05:14:56
6 - H. MASUOKA - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 05:33:41
7 - S. SERVIA - CITROEN - T3 - 06:09:07
8 - JL SCHLESSER - SCHLESSER - T3 - 06:13:20
9 - J. KLEINSCHMIDT - SCHLESSER - T3 - 06:15:45
10- G. VISMARA - SSANGYONG - T3 - 06:49:27


GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER SS5
1 - A. VATANEN/ G. PICARD (SF/FR) - CITROEN - T3 - 10:40:13
2 - P. LARTIGUE/ M. PERRIN (FR) - CITROEN - T3 - +00:04:56
3 - P. WAMBERGUE/ F. GALLAGHER(FR/GB) - CITROEN - T3 - +00:13:31
4 - JP.FONTENAY/ B. MUSMARRA (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +00:22:42
5 - B. SABY/ D. SERIEYS (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +00:22:56
6 - K. MASUOKA/ A. SCHULZ (J/D) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +01:07:46
7 - S. SERVIA/ J. PUIG (SP) - CITROEN - T3 - +01:26:22
8 - JL.SCHLESSER (FR) - SCHLESSER ORIG - T3 - +02:37:33
9 - J. KLEINSCHMIDT/ F. HERRERA (D) - SCHLESSER ORIG - T3 - +02:54:49
10- T. DELAVERGNE/ L. ARGUELLES (FR) - NISSAN - T2 - +02:59:42
11- G. VISMARA/ M. CAMBIAGHI (ITA) - SSANGYONG - T3 - +03:27:30
12- J. RIVIERE/ W. ALCARAZ (FR) - SSANGYONG - T3 - +03:38:47
13- D. HOUSIEAUX/ J. COTTRET (FR) - NISSAN - T1 - +03:41:29
14- P. TAMBAY/ R. METGE (CH/FR) - MITSUBISHI - T2 - +03:43:23
15- C. SOUZA/ P. LAROQUE (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +03:44:25
16- J. STRUGO/ JP. CATARELLI - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +03:47:05
17- F. GERMANETTI/ E. CASTIGLIONE (I) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +03:48:30


TOMORROW, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3, 1996
LEG 5: FOUM EL HASSAN - SMARA (MOROCCO)
DISTANCE: 494 KM
SPECIAL STAGE: 474 KM

THE SECOND LEG IN THIS YEAR'S FIRST "DAKAR" MARATHON SECTION WAS GRUELLING, BUT THE SECOND PART, TOMORROW, WILL BE THE TRUE TEST OF ENDURANCE.

AFTER DRIVING NEARLY 800 KM THROUGH THE DRAA VALLEY, THE COMPETITORS WILL HAVE TO FACE A FURTHER 494 KM, ALL BUT 20 KM AT SPECIAL STAGE SPEEDS, ON ROCKY TRACKS WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF OVERNIGHT SERVICE FROM THE AIRBORNE MECHANICS. THIS MEANS THAT ANY SERIOUS DAMAGE OR WEAR SUSTAINED TODAY WILL HAVE TO BE CARRIED THROUGH UNTIL THE OVERNIGHT BIVOUAC AT SMARA.

TOMORROW'S PUNISHING LEG STARTS AT 07:00 FOR THE BIKES, WITH THE FIRST OF THE CARS AND TRUCKS LEAVING FOUM EL HASSAN AT 09:10. THE BIKES SHOULD ARRIVE IN SMARA, NEAR THE BORDERS OF MAURITANIA AND ALGERIA, AT AROUND 13:30, WITH THE CARS APPEARING AT 15:10 TO COMPLETE THE LAST LEG IN MOROCCO.



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Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation