1996 GRANADA-DAKAR RALLY
COMMUNIQUE 8

FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 1996
LEG 7: ZOUERAT - ATAR (MAURITANIA)

DISTANCE: 370 KM
STAGE DISTANCE: 365 KM
DISTANCE TO FINISH: 4328 KM




MASUOKA LEADS MITSUBISHI CHALLENGE IN MAURITANIAN DUNES


AFTER LEG 7 OF THE GRANADA - DAKAR RALLY '96, JAPANESE DRIVER HIROSHI MASUOKA LEADS THE MITSUBISHI CHALLENGE IN THE DESERT OF MAURITANIA, SURFING THE ENDLESS SAND DUNES WITH FINESSE IN HIS TEAM CAR PLAZA MITSUBISHI OIL RALLIART RVR SPACE RUNNER PROTOTYPE.

CO-DRIVEN BY GERMAN NAVIGATOR ANDREAS SCHULZ, MASUOKA TOOK FOURTH PLACE OVERALL AFTER SETTING FOURTH FASTEST ON THE 365 KM CHARGE ACROSS ENORMOUS DUNES AND CAMEL GRASS-DOTTED ROUTE BETWEEN ZOUERAT AND ATAR IN MAURITANIA.

EXHAUSTED IN THE 30 DEGREE-PLUS TEMPERATURES AND STRONG SUNSHINE OF ATAR, BUT DELIGHTED TO HAVE PERFORMED WELL, MASUOKA REPORTED: "I DROVE WITH A GOOD RHYTHM TODAY - NOT TOO FAST AND DANGEROUS, JUST AT A GOOD PACE. I REALLY ENJOY DRIVING THROUGH THE DUNES BECAUSE IT IS JUST LIKE SURFING. BUT I AM ALWAYS VERY CAREFUL; I STOP AT THE TOP OF THE HIGHEST DUNES FOR A FEW SECONDS TO LOOK FOR THE BEST ROUTE THROUGH THE NEXT SERIES. IT'S VERY EASY TO DRIVE IN THE DUNES IN THIS CAR, BECAUSE IT HANDLES SO WELL AND THERE IS PLENTY OF POWER TO PULL ME OUT OF TROUBLE.I DON'T EVEN NEED TO DEFLATE THE TYRES TO A LOWER PRESSURE, WHICH IS THE NORMAL PRACTICE IN THESE CONDITIONS."

FRENCH DRIVER BRUNO SABY, PARTNERED BY HIS COMPATRIOT DOMINIQUE SERIEYS, WAS ALSO SMILING BROADLY WHEN HE ARRIVED IN ATAR, DELIGHTED TO HAVE SET SECOND FASTEST ON THE STAGE IN HIS TEAM PIAA MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE. HE SAID: "IT WAS A GOOD DAY FOR US. IN THE DUNES, WE HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO SEE TRACKS IN THE SAND LEFT BY ORGANISERS' VEHICLES AND WE WERE ABLE TO FOLLOW THEM TO FIND THE BEST WAY THROUGH. IT WAS A VERY FAST STAGE AT FIRST, AND THEN WE SAW RIPPLES IN THE SAND WHICH BECAME WAVES, AND THEN TURNED INTO MASSIVE DUNES. MY PAJERO RAN PERFECTLY, DESPITE WHAT HAPPENED TWO DAYS AGO WHEN I ROLLED, AND I'M VERY PLEASED ABOUT THAT."

UNFORTUNATELY, JEAN-PIERRE FONTENAY AND BRUNO MUSMARRA, WHO HAD BEEN HOLDING SECOND PLACE OVERALL IN THE RALLY WHEN THEY LEFT ZOUERAT IN THEIR TEAM OFF ROAD EXPRESS MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE, WERE DELAYED WITH A SUSPENSION PROBLEM. KENJIRO SHINOZUKA AND HENRI MAGNE, DRIVING THE TEAM MITSUBISHI OIL RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE, STOPPED TO HELP AND SACRIFICED PARTS FROM THEIR OWN PAJERO TO GET THE LEADING CAR RUNNING AGAIN.

FONTENAY EXPLAINED: "ABOUT 100 KM FROM THE START I NOTICED A PROBLEM WITH THE SHOCK ABSORBERS. AFTER I WHILE I DECIDED TO STOP, AND SHINOZUKA ARRIVED SOON AFTER AND OFFERED TO HELP. HE SAID: 'IT'S MORE IMPORTANT FOR THE TEAM FOR YOU TO KEEP GOING, SO TAKE ANY PARTS YOU NEED FROM MY CAR, AND I WILL WILL WAIT FOR THE ASSISTANCE TRUCKS WHILE YOU GO ON.' SO, HENRI AND I TOOK THE SHOCK ABSORBERS FROM SHINOZUKA'S CAR AND WORKED FOR TWO HOURS TO GET GOING AGAIN, AND WE DROVE VERY HARD TO THE FINISH." .../... FONTENAY NOW HOLDS 13TH PLACE OVERALL, AND SHINOZUKA IS EXPECTED TO ARRIVE IN ATAR LATER TONIGHT.

OUT OF THE 295 MOTORBIKES, CARS AND TRUCKS THAT STARTED THIS YEAR'S GRANADA - DAKAR, JUST NINE WOMEN WERE ENTERED. OF THE 83 MOTORBIKES AND 103 CARS AND TRUCKS STILL RUNNING THIS MORNING AT ZOUERAT, SEVEN WERE LEFT, INCLUDING JAPANESE COMPETITORS MAKIKO TOMOKAWA AND AKENI ASADA WHO ARE RUNNING WELL IN THEIR PRODUCTION CLASS (T1) MITSUBISHI PAJERO - THE ONLY ALL-FEMALE CREW IN THE EVENT - AND RITSUKO NOSHIRO, WHO IS PARTNERED IN HER MODIFIED PRODUCTION CLASS (T2) MITSUBISHI PAJERO BY FRENCHMAN PHILIPPE REY.

TOMOKAWA SAID: "I TRIED THIS EVENT LAST YEAR, BUT RETIRED ON THE THIRD DAY. SO YESTERDAY, ON THE FIRST STAGE IN MAURITANIA, WAS THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN SAND DUNES! IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ONE OF MY DREAMS TO COMPETE IN THIS EVENT AND NOW I FEEL I'M REALLY ON THE 'DAKAR'. MY PAJERO IS RUNNING VERY WELL AND WE'RE JUST AIMING TO GET TO THE FINISH."

NOSHIRO COMMENTED: "'DAKAR' IS MY DREAM AND I'VE BEEN PREPARING FOR THIS ADVENTURE FOR A VERY LONG TIME, AND I'M REALLY ENJOYING MYSELF. THE PAJERO IS RUNNING PERFECTLY, AND I'M DELIGHTED WITH THE HELP WE GET FROM THE SONAUTO RALLIART ASSISTANCE SERVICE - THEY'RE DOING A FANTASTIC JOB. AND MY NAVIGATOR, PHILIPPE, IS VERY GOOD AND VERY KIND. EVERYTHING IS GOING WELL."

FRENCH CREW JEAN-PIERRE STRUGO AND BRUNO CATARELLI MANAGED TO HOLD ONTO THEIR HEALTHY LEAD IN THE T1 CATEGORY FOR PRODUCTION CARS IN THEIR SHORT WHEEL-BASE MITSUBISHI PAJERO 3.5 V6, AND A CREDITABLE 12TH OVERALL.

STRUGO REPORTED AT ATAR: "WE STARTED 12TH ON THE ROAD AND DROVE ALONGSIDE A TRUCK, BEFORE WE OVERTOOK IT. WE THEN SAW FONTENAY STOPPED AND I STARTED TO WORRY ABOUT THE DIFFICULT ERG AND DUNES AHEAD THAT WE HAD BEEN WARNED ABOUT. BUT WHEN WE GOT THERE, THE DUNES WERE NOT TOO BAD AND IT WAS RELATIVELY EASY IN MY PAJERO. TOWARDS THE END OF THE LEG, ABOUT 30 KM FROM THE FINISH, WE HAD ONLY 10 WAYPOINTS WITH A LARGE DISTANCE BETWEEN EACH, AND IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO STAY ON THE CORRECT ROUTE. WE MUST HAVE WANDERED OFF THE RIGHT DIRECTION, BECAUSE WE SOON ARRIVED AT THE TOP OF A PLATEAU, WITH NO WAY DOWN. I HAD TO DRIVE ALONG THE CLIFF EDGE FOR ABOUT 15 MINUTES TO FIND A WAY DOWN."


SS8-ZOUERAT - ATAR 365KM
1 - A. VATANEN - CITROEN - T3 - 04:10:17
2 - B. SABY - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 04:11:22
3 - P. WAMBERGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 04:13:03
4 - H. MASUOKA - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 04:13:04
5 - P. LARTIGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 04:20:46
6 - S. SERVIA - CITROEN - T3 - 04:31:58
7 - JL SCHLESSER - SCHLESSER - T3 - 04:54:18
8 - K. HAN BONG - SSANGYONG - T2 - 05:09:45
9 - T. DELAVERGNE - NISSAN - T2 - 05:11:24
10- G. VISMARA - SSANGYONG - T3 - 05:16:49


GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER SS8
1 - P. LARTIGUE/ M. PERRIN (FR) - CITROEN - T3 - 25:20:18
2 - P. WAMBERGUE/ F. GALLAGHER(FR/GB) - CITROEN - T3 - +00:34:23
3 - A. VATANEN/ G. PICARD (SF/FR) - CITROEN - T3 - +01:25:35
4 - K. MASUOKA/ A. SCHULZ (J/D) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +01:57:49
5 - S. SERVIA/ J. PUIG (SP) - CITROEN - T3 - +02:04:09
6 - JP.FONTENAY/ B. MUSMARRA (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +02:11:28
7 - B. SABY/ D. SERIEYS (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +04:52:50
8 - JL.SCHLESSER (FR) - SCHLESSER ORIG - T3 - +05:07:58
9 - G. VISMARA/ M. CAMBIAGHI (ITA) - SSANGYONG - T3 - +07:25:32
10- T. DELAVERGNE/ L. ARGUELLES (FR) - NISSAN - T2 - +07:33:14
11- J. STRUGO/ JP. CATARELLI (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +08:38:23
12- T. ANDRETTA / M. SIMONI (ITA) - MITSUBISHI - T1 - +09:24:39
13- P. TAMBAY/ R. METGE (CH/FR) - MITSUBISHI - T2 - +09:34:05
14- V. MOSKOVSKIH/ V. KOUZMINE (RUS) - KAMAZ - T4 - +09:46:49
15- J. RIVIERE/ W. ALCARAZ (FR) - SSANGYONG - T3 - +10:18:37


TOMORROW, SATURDAY, JANUARY 6, 1996
LEG 8: ATAR - ZOUERAT (MAURITANIA)
DISTANCE: 539 KM
SPECIAL STAGE: 511 KM

SAID TO BE ONE OF THE MOST SCENIC LEGS IN THE WHOLE EVENT, THE RETURN LEG TO ZOUERAT, THE EIGHTH OF THE RALLY, REPRESENTS ANOTHER TOUGH CHALLENGE FOR THE REMAINING COMPETITORS WHO HOPE TO REACH THE SUNDAY REST DAY AT THE IRON MINING TOWN THAT MARKS THE HALFWAY POINT IN THE GRANADA - DAKAR.

THE 511 KM STAGE CONTAINS MORE ERGS AND DUNES, DESCENTS DOWN STEEP CLIFFS AND AN UNFORGETTABLE, DIFFICULT CLIMB UP THROUGH THE STEEP SAND AT EL BEYET.

THE MOTORBIKES WILL LEAVE FROM ATAR TOMORROW AT 06:45, AND THE FIRST COMPETITORS SHOULD ARRIVE AT ZOUERAT BY AROUND 15:00. THE CARS WILL LEAVE AT 08:15, AND THE LEADERS WILL BE EXPECTED AT 16:30.



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[ COMMUNIQUE 1 ]

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Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation