1996 GRANADA-DAKAR RALLY
COMMUNIQUE 9

SATURDAY, JANUARY 6, 1996
LEG 8: ATAR - ZOUERAT (MAURITANIA)

DISTANCE: 539 KM
STAGE DISTANCE: 511 KM
STAGE DISTANCE TO FINISH: 3789 KM




MASUOKA TAKES FIRST EVER STAGE WIN IN MITSUBISHI WITH FONTENAY SECOND


JAPANESE DRIVER HIROSHI MASUOKA'S CAREFUL APPROACH AND SKILLFUL DRIVING PAID DIVIDENDS TODAY WHEN HE SCORED HIS FIRST FASTEST OVERALL STAGE TIME TODAY IN HIS TEAM CAR PLAZA MITSUBISHI OIL RALLIART RVR SPACE RUNNER PROTOTYPE.

CO-DRIVEN BY GERMAN NAVIGATOR ANDREAS SCHULZ, MASUOKA AVOIDED ALL PROBLEMS OVER THE RELENTLESS SAND DUNES, ERGS AND STEEP CLIMBS, AND PRAISED HIS MITSUBISHI FOR CARRYING THEM SAFELY AND QUICKLY OVER THE CAR-BREAKING, BUMPY CAMEL GRASS SECTIONS THAT WOULD SHAKE A LESSER CAR TO PIECES IN MINUTES.

INITIALLY, MASUOKA STARTED BEHIND THE CITROENS, BUT CAUGHT THEM, DRIVING CLOSE TO LARTIGUE FOR MUCH OF THE STAGE BEFORE PASSING THE FRENCHMAN. CLOSE TO THE END OF THE STAGE, LARTIGUE FOUGHT BACK AND PASSED THE MITSUBISHI, ONLY TO TAKE A DIFFERENT ROUTE WHICH TURNED OUT TO BE LONGER, AND MASUOKA ARRIVED AT THE FINISH FIRST.

HE SAID: "THE STAGES ON THIS YEAR'S 'DAKAR' ARE DEFINITELY MORE DIFFICULT THAN LAST YEAR. BUT TODAY WAS EASY FOR ME ON A VERY HARD STAGE BECAUSE THIS T3 MITSUBISHI PERFORMS VERY WELL ON THE BUMPY CAMEL GRASS SECTIONS.

"WHEN IS STARTED THE STAGE, I FOLLOWED THE TRACKS LEFT BY THE MOTORBIKES, BUT THERE WERE ROCKS AND STONES SCATTERED ACROSS THE DESERT AND I HAD TO DRIVE CAUTIOUSLY TO AVOID PUNCTURES. I HAD A GOOD, SAFE DRIVING RHYTHM, BECAUSE MY MAIN OBJECTIVE IS TO REACH DAKAR. STILL, I REMEMBER WHEN IN 1987 I SCORED TWO FASTEST TIMES IN MY CLASS ON THE 'DAKAR', AND I AM VERY PLEASED NOW TO HAVE DONE IT IN T3."

MASUOKA HAS NOW MOVED UP TO AN IMPRESSIVE THIRD AT THE HALFWAY POINT IN THE RALLY.

LIKEWISE, JEAN-PIERRE FONTENAY AND BRUNO MUSMARRA HAD RELATIVELY GOOD DAY, ALTHOUGH THEY STOPPED MOMENTARILY WITH TEAM MATE BRUNO SABY WHO HAD A PROBLEM AND HAD TO PASS NEARLY 16 CARS AND TRUCKS TO SET SECOND FASTEST TODAY IN THEIR TEAM OFF ROAD EXPRESS MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE TO TAKE A MITSUBISHI 1-2.

FONTENAY REPORTED: "WE STARTED 16TH ON THE ROAD TODAY BECAUSE OF YESTERDAY'S PROBLEMS, AND WE HAD TO OVERTAKE SO MANY CARS AND TRUCKS. BUT EVERYONE WAS VERY PROFESSIONAL TODAY; I JUST HAD TO BLAST MY HORN AND THEY ALL MOVED OUT OF MY WAY.AFTER THAT, I WAS CAREFUL THROUGH THE CAMEL GRASS BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE I HAD MY PROBLEM YESTERDAY.I ALSO STOPPED FOR A FEW MOMENTS WITH SABY TO LEND HIM A WHEEL NUT - HE WASN'T SURE THAT I COULD GO ON WITH A WHEEL NUT MISSING, BUT THIS CAR IS SO GOOD, IT'S NOT A PROBLEM!" .../... FONTENAY HAS MOVED UP FROM SIXTH LAST NIGHT TO FIFTH PLACE IN THE GENERAL CLASSIFICATION.

FRENCH PAIR SABY AND SERIEYS UNFORTUNATELY SUFFERED DELAYS WHEN FIRST THEY HAD A WHEEL PROBLEM (WHICH FONTENAY HELPED WITH) AND THE ROLLED IN THEIR TEAM PIAA MITSUBISHI RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE.THEY ARE NOW WAITING FOR THE MITSUBISHI SUPPORT TRUCKS TO REACH THEM TO HELP REPAIR THE CAR AND CONTINUE.

CITROEN TODAY FELL FOUL OF THE SEARING SAHARAN HEAT, RALLY LEADER PIERRE LARTIGUE ALMOST PASSING OUT WHEN HE STEPPED FROM HIS CAR AT THE FINISH. TEAM MATES FOURTH-PLACED ARI VATANEN AND SECOND-PLACED PHILIPPE WAMBERGUE ALSO SUFFERED IN WITH HEAT PROBLEMS IN THEIR CARS.LARTIGUE WAS THIRD FASTEST TODAY, BEHIND THE FASTER MITSUBISHIS, WHILE WAMBERGUE AND VATANEN LANGUISHED IN SIXTH AND SEVENTH RESPECTIVELY.

KENJIRO SHINOZUKA AND HENRI MAGNE HAVE ARRIVED SAFELY AT ZOUERAT WITHOUT PROBLEMS IN THE TEAM MITSUBISHI OIL RALLIART PAJERO PROTOTYPE.

THE LONG SAHARAN DESERT SECTIONS ARE CERTAINLY TAKING THEIR TOLL, ESPECIALLY WITH HIGHER THAN EXPECTED TEMPERATURES IN THE 30S AND THE SEVERITY OF THE ROUTE; JUST 74 MOTORBIKES AND 104 CARS AND TRUCKS REMAIN IN THE EVENT, THE MITSUBISHI TEAM DELIGHTED THAT SEVEN OF THE NINE MITSUBISHI SUPPORT TRUCKS ENTERED ARE STILL RUNNING. UNFORTUNATELY FOR CITROEN FIVE OF THE TEAM'S TRUCKS WERE DISQUALIFIED AT ATAR FOR NOT ARRIVING AT THE START OF THE STAGE ON TIME.


SS9 ATAR - ZOUERAT 511KM
1 - H. MASUOKA - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 06:15:19
2 - JP FONTENAY - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 06:27:10
3 - K. SHINOZUKA - MITSUBISHI - T3 - 06:29:59
4 - P. LARTIGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 06:32:05
5 - JL SCHLESSER - SCHLESSER - T3 - 06:41:23
6 - S. SERVIA - CITROEN - T3 - 06:43:08
7 - P. WAMBERGUE - CITROEN - T3 - 06:48:41
8 - A. VATANEN - CITROEN - T3 - 06:59:34
9 - T. DELAVERGNE - NISSAN - T2 - 07:37:46
10- G. VISMARA - SSANGYONG - T3 - 07:41:27


GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER SS9
1 - P. LARTIGUE/ M. PERRIN (FR) - CITROEN - T3 - 31:52:23
2 - P. WAMBERGUE/ F. GALLAGHER(FR/GB) - CITROEN - T3 - +00:50:59
3 - K. MASUOKA/ A. SCHULZ (J/D) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +01:41:03
4 - A. VATANEN/ G. PICARD (SF/FR) - CITROEN - T3 - +01:53:04
5 - JP.FONTENAY/ B. MUSMARRA (FR) - MITSUBISHI - T3 - +02:06:33
6 - S. SERVIA/ J. PUIG (SP) - CITROEN - T3 - +02:15:12
7 - JL.SCHLESSER (FR) - SCHLESSER ORIG - T3 - +05:17:16
8 - G. VISMARA/ M. CAMBIAGHI (ITA) - SSANGYONG - T3 - +08:34:54
9 - T. DELAVERGNE/ L. ARGUELLES (FR) - NISSAN - T2 - +08:38:55 ...


TOMORROW, SATURDAY, JANUARY 6, 1996
REST DAY: ZOUERAT (MAURITANIA)
DISTANCE: 0 KM
SPECIAL STAGE: 0 KM

.../...
IT MAY BE CALLED A REST DAY, CONJURING UP IMAGES OF COMPETITORS AND TEAM MEMBERS BATHING IN THE HOT SUNSHINE OF ZOUERAT, OR PERHAPS TAKING IN TOURS OF THE FAMOUS IRON ORE MINES NEARBY, BUT NOTHING WILL BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH TOMORROW AS THEY PREPARE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE 1996 GRANADA - DAKAR.

FOR THE MITSUBISHI DRIVERS, THE WILL THE CHANCE OF A SHOWER AND A LIE IN, BUT THE DAY WILL BE TAKEN UP PLANNING STRATEGY, AND THE CO-DRIVERS WILL BE WORKING HARD ON THEIR MAPS AND GPS SETTINGS FOR THE TOUGH DAYS THAT LIE AHEAD.

THE MECHANICS AND TECHNICIANS WILL SWEAT IN THE HEAT AND DUST TO ENSURE THAT THE MITSUBISHIS ARE IN FIRST CLASS CONDITION FOR THE REMAINING 3789KM OF PUNISHING STAGES BEFORE DAKAR.



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Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation