1996 GRANADA-DAKAR RALLY
COMMUNIQUE 7

THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 1996
LEG 6: SMARA - ZOUERAT (MOROCCO)

DISTANCE: 618 KM
STAGE DISTANCE: 603 KM
DISTANCE TO FINISH: 4698 KM




FONTENAY SCORES FASTEST TIME FOR MITSUBISHI AND MOVES UP TO SECOND OVERALL


FRENCH CREW JEAN-PIERRE FONTENAY AND BRUNO MUSMARRA POWERED THEIR WAY BACK INTO CONTENTION IN THE GRANADA - DAKAR '96 TODAY, SCORING THE FASTEST TIME BY OVER TWO MINUTES IN THEIR TEAM OFF ROAD EXPRESS MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE.

THE ROUTE FROM SMARA IN MOROCCO TO THE IRON ORE MINING TOWN OF ZOUERAT TOOK THE REMAINING 153 CARS AND TRUCKS AND 95 MOTORBIKES THROUGH THE FRONTIER AND ONTO THE FIRST OFF-ROAD SECTION ACROSS THE MAURITANIAN DESERT FLOOR IN EXTREMELY HOT AND DUSTY CONDITIONS.THEY FACED THE FIRST DUNES OF THIS YEAR'S EVENT, AND ALSO THE FIRST CAR-BREAKING SECTIONS OF CAMEL GRASS, YET ALL FOUR OF THE WORKS MITSUBISHIS EMERGED FROM THE PUNISHING 603 KM STAGE WITHOUT PROBLEMS.

SAID FONTENAY: "MY PAJERO PERFORMED VERY WELL TODAY. WHEN WE WERE FOLLOWING THE CITROENS, THEY COULD NOT SHAKE US, OUR PERFORMANCE WAS SO GOOD. WE ATTACKED FROM THE START OF THE STAGE RIGHT TO THE FINISH. ON THE SECTION NEAR THE VILLAGE OF BIR MOGHREIN, WE HAD A BIG SURPRISE WHEN WE HIT A DOUBLE DIP AT OVER 175 KPH, AND THE CAR TOOK OFF INTO THE AIR. WE LANDED WITH ONE WHEEL AT A TIME! I LOOKED AT BRUNO AND HE LOOKED AT ME AND WE BOTH SAID 'WOW'! BUT THE CAR WAS FINE. IT WAS A GOOD DAY TODAY."

ALTHOUGH THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME DURING THE EVENT THAT FONTENAY HAD SCORED A FASTEST TIME, HE HAD, IN FACT BEEN QUICKEST ON THE STAGES FOR THREE DAYS, BUT HAD BEEN DELAYED BY PUNCTURES AND WHEN HE STOPPED FOR FIVE MINUTES ON LEG FOUR, FROM ER RACHIDIA TO FOUM EL HASSAN, TO RESCUE A MOTORBIKE RIDER WHO HAD FALLEN. TODAY HE MANAGED TO AVOID SUCH DELAYS AND DEMONSTRATED HIS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR WINNING STAGES IN THE PAJERO.

RALLY LEADER IN MOROCCO, ARI VATANEN, LOST ALMOST ALL HOPE OF VICTORY WHEN A TYRE FLEW OFF A WHEEL ON HIS CITROEN JUST BEFORE THE FOURTH CHECK POINT. THE FINN TRIED IN VAIN TO REPLACE THE WHEEL, BUT THE CENTRAL WHEELNUT SEIZED AND HE WAS FORCED TO TACKLE THE FINAL SECTION OF DUNES WITH ONLY THREE TYRES. HE MANAGED TO GET HELP AND STRUGGLED TO ZOUERAT IN FOURTH POSITION OVERALL AFTER LOSING NEARLY TWO HOURS. HIS TEAM MATE, PIERRE LARTIGUE, THEREFORE TOOK THE LEAD OVERALL AFTER SETTING SECOND FASTEST BEHIND FONTENAY'S MITSUBISHI.

JAPAN'S KENJIRO SHINOZUKA, PARTNERED BY FRENCH NAVIGATOR HENRI MAGNE,CONTINUED TO CARVE HIS WAY BACK THROUGH THE FIELD BY SCORING THIRD FASTEST IN HIS TEAM MITSUBISHI OIL RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE. HE REPORTED: "THE 'DAKAR' IS ALWAYS VERY DIFFICULT, BUT PERHAPS FOR US TODAY WAS NOT AS HARD AS IT CAN BE. THE DUNES WERE NOT TOO BIG, AND THE SAND WAS VERY FIRM, AND WE COULD CROSS THEM EASILY IN OUR PAJERO." .../... HIS CO-DRIVER, HENRI MAGNE ADDED: "THE DUNES WERE GOOD, BETWEEN THE THIRD AND FOURTH CHECK POINTS MOSTLY WITH SOME MORE NEAR THE END OF THE STAGE.BEFORE THAT, THE ROAD WAS VERY FAST ACROSS THE DESERT AND WE HAD TO BE VERY VIGILANT. THE CAMEL GRASS, WHICH WE SAW FOR THE FIRST TIME TODAY FOR ABOUT 40 OR 50 KM, WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT. THE CLUMPS OF GRASS ARE QUITE BIG AND VERY HARD, AND CAN SHAKE A CAR TO PIECES. THE SHOCK ABSORBERS AND TRANSMISSION IS PUT UNDER A LOT OF STRESS, BUT THE PAJERO DID NOT FALTER AND RAN PERFECTLY."

THE SECOND JAPANESE DRIVER IN THE TEAM, HIROSHI MASUOKA, CO-DRIVEN BY GERMAN PARTNER ANDREAS SCHULZ, PUT IN A FAULTLESS PERFORMANCE TODAY TO TAKE FIFTH FASTEST IN HIS TEAM CAR PLAZA MITSUBISHI OIL RALLIART RVR SPACE RUNNER PROTOTYPE. "I REALLY ENJOYED DRIVING THIS STAGE TODAY. IT WAS FANTASTIC AND EVERYTHING WENT PERFECTLY - NO PUNCTURES, NO GETTING STUCK AND NO STOPPING. FOR 400 KM WE FOLLOWED SHINOZUKA. THE CAR RAN PERFECTLY AND IT'S IN SUPERB CONDITION AFTER OVER 600 KM OF VERY HARD DRIVING. I'M VERY PLEASED."

DESPITE A MULTIPLE HIGH-SPEED ROLL YESTERDAY, BRUNO SABY AND DOMINIQUE SERIEYS CONTINUED IN THE RALLY FROM SMARA TO ZOUERAT TODAY, AND PUT IN A SUPERB SEVENTH FASTEST TIME IN THE TEAM PIAA MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE, DESPITE STARTING AT THE BACK OF THE FIELD AND THUS HAVING TO PASS MANY TRUCKS AND SLOWER CARS IN DIFFICULT, DUSTY CONDITIONS. HOWEVER, THE FRENCH PAIR WERE DELIGHTED WITH THE HARD WORK PUT IN BY MITSUBISHI MECHANICS AND TECHNICIANS WHO TOILED LATE INTO THE NIGHT TO PROVIDE THEM WITH A PERFECT PAJERO THIS MORNING.

SABY REVEALED: "WHAT A SURPRISE WHEN I CLIMBED OUT OF MY TENT TODAY AND SAW MY PAJERO! IT WAS ALMOST LIKE NEW! THE MECHANICS WORKED ALL NIGHT AND, AS A RESULT, I HAD NO MECHANICAL PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER ON THE STAGE TODAY. IT WAS JUST SO DIFFICULT TO PASS TRUCKS AND CARS, AND FOR 150 KM I SAW NOTHING BUT A WALL OF DUST THROWN UP BY OTHER VEHICLES. I DROVE QUICKLY TODAY, BUT WITH GREAT CAUTION, AND I'M VERY HAPPY TO BE HERE TONIGHT. THE TEAM MORALE IS VERY GOOD, AND I THINK JEAN-PIERRE AND BRUNO PUT IN A VERY GOOD PERFORMANCE TODAY - IT WAS A GOOD RESULT FOR THE TEAM."

MITSUBISHI PAJEROS NOW FILL THE FIRST TWO PLACES IN THE T1 CATEGORY FOR NEAR-STANDARD VEHICLES; FRENCH CREW JEAN-PIERRE STRUGO AND BRUNO CATARELLI HOLD A FIVE MINUTE LEAD IN THEIR MITSUBISHI PAJERO FROM ITALIAN PAIR THIERRY ANDRETTA AND MARIO SIMONI.THAI MITSUBISHI PAJERO DRIVER HANTRAKUL SAKCHAI, CO-DRIVEN BY SUWANARATT TULL, HOLDS SECOND IN THE T2 CATEGORY FOR MODIFIED PRODUCTION CARS.

STRUGO REPORTED: "I DROVE JUST BEHIND THE PROTOTYPES FOR THE FIRST THIRD OF THE STAGE TODAY, AND MY PAJERO RAN PERFECTLY. TODAY'S WAS A TRUE 'DAKAR' SECTION, VARIABLE BUT WITH A GOOD SURFACE AND THE DUNES WERE A GOOD FORETASTE OF THINGS TO COME. IT HELPED US TO GET USED TO THEM AGAIN."

THE MITSUBISHI "FR415" 4WD-RS TRUCK DRIVEN BY GILBERT VERSINO WAS WITHDRAWN THIS MORNING AFTER DEVELOPING A PROBLEM WITH ITS FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE SYSTEM.


SS 7 - SMARA - ZOUERAT 603KM
1 - JP FONTENAY - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 05:17:24
2 - P. LARTIGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 05:19:37
3 - K. SHINOZUKA - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 05:27:52
4 - P. WAMBERGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 05:28:05
5 - H. MASUOKA - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 05:30:38
6 - S. SERVIA - CITROEN - T3 - 05:32:20
7 - B. SABY - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 05:41:48
8 - JL SCHLESSER - SCHLESSER - T3 - 06:12:24
9 - T. DELAVERGNE - NISSAN - T2 - 06:36:47
10- G. VISMARA - SSANGYONG - T3 - 06:56:38


GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER SS7
1 - P. LARTIGUE/ M. PERRIN (FR) - CITROEN - T3 - 20:59:32
2 - JP.FONTENAY/ B. MUSMARRA (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +00:24:50
3 - P. WAMBERGUE/ F. GALLAGHER(FR/GB) - CITROEN - T3 - +00:42:06
4 - A. VATANEN/ G. PICARD (SF/FR) - CITROEN - T3 - +01:36:04
5 - S. SERVIA/ J. PUIG (SP) - CITROEN - T3 - +01:52:57
6 - K. MASUOKA/ A. SCHULZ (J/D) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +02:05:31
7 - JL.SCHLESSER (FR) - SCHLESSER ORIG - T3 - +04:34:26
8 - B. SABY/ D. SERIEYS (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +05:02:14
9 - G. VISMARA/ M. CAMBIAGHI (ITA) - SSANGYONG - T3 - +06:29:29
10- T. DELAVERGNE/ L. ARGUELLES (FR) - NISSAN - T2 - +06:42:36
11- J. STRUGO/ JP. CATARELLI (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +07:00:36
12- T. ANDRETTA / M. SIMONI (ITA) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +07:06:08
13- P. TAMBAY/ R. METGE (CH/FR) - MITSUBISHI - T2 - +07:20:09
14- D. HOUSIEAUX/ J. COTTRET (FR) - NISSAN - T1 - +08:14:23
15- G. SARRAZIN/ T. FUJISAWA (FR/J) - TOYOTA - T1 - +08:16:45
...
19- C. SOUZA/ P. LAROQUE (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +08:47:34


TOMORROW, FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 1996
LEG 7: ZOUERAT - ATAR (MAURITANIA)
DISTANCE: 370 KM
SPECIAL STAGE: 365 KM

AS THE RALLY HEADS SOUTH AND DEEPER INTO MAURITANIA, THE SURVIVING COMPETITORS WILL FACE MORE OFF-ROAD NAVIGATION AS THEY BLAST ACROSS THE TRACKLESS DESERT.

ALTHOUGH THE STAGE TOMORROW IS RELATIVELY SHORT, THEY HAVE TO CROSS A SIX KM ERG IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SECTION, WHICH IS SAID TO BE ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT IN THE RALLY. AN ERG IS BEST DESCRIBED AS A SEA OF SHIFTING SAND WITH LARGE, DUNE-LIKE WAVES. THE MAJOR DIFFICULTY IS THAT THERE IS NO ESTABLISHED ROUTE TO FOLLOW AS THE FEATURES ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING, AND THE SAND IS EXTREMELY DEEP AND SOFT.

THE FIRST BIKE WILL LEAVE ZOUERAT AT 07:30, WHILE THE FIRST CAR WILL START AT 09:00 FOR THE SHORT BUT DIFFICULT SECTION TO ATAR THAT MAY CHANGE THE ENTIRE COMPLEXION OF THE EVENT.



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[ COMMUNIQUE 2 ]

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Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation