LEG 13 : NEMA (MAURITANIA) - KIFFA (MAURITANIA)
Distance : 604KM
Stage distance : 308KM
Friday, January 17, 1997
It has been one of the hottest and most hotly contested Dakar's ever, but as Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka and his French co-driver Henri Magne picked their way through the 13th leg of the event in the lead in their Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero, it looks like their victory is all but secure. Shinozuka's lead is almost five minutes now, and if he can get to Dakar without problems, he will be the first Japanese driver ever to win the legendary Dakar.
SHINOZUKA HOLDS SWAY FOR MITSUBISHI
ON DAKAR RALLY
For now, Shinozuka is being supported by his Mitsubishi team mates Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Bruno Musmarra in the Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero in second place, and Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys who are third in the Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero.
"We all drove together," said Shinozuka of the three leading Pajeros. "Now the pressure is to get to Dakar without problems. I am always worrying about the car now, although today it all went very well and the car was perfect."
None of the three Pajeros reported any problems today, although they did become slightly lost very briefly before regaining the track. Saby's co-driver Dominique Serieys said: "We chose the easiest route to get through with as few problems as possible, avoiding all the hard bits."
Team Manager for the leading three Pajeros, Ullrich Brehmer stated: "The three co-drivers did some nice navigation today, taking the cars around all the dangerous parts and avoided all the problems on this stage. The cars are here in perfect condition, so it's all going well."
While the three leading Pajeros drove together through the 308 km competitive section from Nema to Kiffa which featured sweeping, sandy tracks, narrow mountain passes near Ayoun el Atrous and a rare appearance this year of soft sand dunes, Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka and his German navigator Andreas Schulz took the opportunity of scoring their first leg win in the Team Car Plaza Mitsubishi Ralliart Challenger / Montero Sport. After a stirring battle with Jutta Kleinschmid's buggy, Masuoka managed to scrape home in first place with just 19 seconds to spare becoming the eighth different leg winner of the rally this year.
Schulz reported: "We fought together with Jutta all the way to Passage Control 3, then I think she got a little bit lost. But we slowed too because we had the wrong tyre pressures for the dunes, although it was easier to pass than I expected. It was a nice stage - a real Dakar stage - and we really enjoyed ourselves without taking risks. We are very pleased."
In T1, the class for standard vehicles where the Mitsubishi's have been sweeping the boards, Portuguese driver Carlos Souza, partnered by Philippe Rey, continued to dominate the class in their Mitsubishi Pajero. French pair Bruno Lhotellerie and Benoit Leheron, also in a Pajero were still second, but the good news was that Miguel Prieto and Carlos Mas, from Spain, had moved up a place to third in T1 making it a clean sweep for Mitsubishi in this class too.
All three Mitsubishis had been involved in a frantic battle with ex-Formula One star Philippe Alliot's Nissan from the start. However, Souza soon broke clear of the field by Gao last week, leaving Lhotellerie and Prieto to deal with Alliot. Frenchman Lhotellerie managed to beat Alliot for second place two days ago, but Prieto had given up hope of taking third until today when Alliot stopped in the stage when he got stuck in a sand dune and had to wait for his support truck.
Speaking for Souza, Rey reported: "We followed the leading Mitsubishi Pajeros' tracks and managed to avoid all but one of the dunes where we got stuck for a few minutes. I pushed the car and after about 10 metres we were clear again. The problem was Carlos couldn't select four-wheel drive and we had only two-wheel drive in the dune, but it's OK now. We are still driving carefully, but we have had the same shock absorbers on the car for the whole rally and I think they're getting worn now. It's incredible that they have lasted this far!"
However, there was some less happy news during the day when Thai pair Pornsawan Siriwatanakun and Tull Suvanarat were reported to be stopped 165 km into the competitive section with clutch problems. They had been eighth overall. The director of Sonauto Ralliart Karl Ille said: "They are now waiting for the T4 trucks, the two Mitsubishi trucks, and I hope they can help them."
Japanese lady Ritsuko Noshiro, co-driven in her Mitsubishi Pajero by Cyrille Ghaem, retired yesterday with overheating problems, caused by a roll two days ago which blocked the ventilation to the engine.
Japanese girls Makiko Tomokawa and Akemi Asada were still going strong at Nema last night in their Mitsubishi Pajero, Tomokawa saying: "It is good to get this far after some very hard days, but we are driving carefully and hope to get to Dakar."
Brazilian pair Klever Kolberg and Joao Mesquita were also happy with their progress, Kolberg stating: "We are going slowly and enjoying being able to see the scenery. I have done the Dakar on a motorbike, but this is much more pleasant!"
The two Mitsubishi FR415 4WD-RS trucks made it through the most difficult competitive section of the rally yesterday from Timbuktu to Nema without problems, although the drivers admitted that it was extremely hard work. Gilbert Versino, in the lead truck, commented: "It was a long, hard day and we are all very tired. The trucks are very strong, but I'm not sure about the drivers!"
The two Mitsubishi trucks have been called into emergency action for the first time today and, as the rest of the Mitsubishi team wait in the pleasant warmth of Kiffa for news, they will probably work into the evening to rescue Thai pair Siriwatanakun and Suvanarat who are stuck in the middle of the leg. 89 cars and trucks started the leg today.
SS13 /EC13 NEMA - KIFFA 308KM
1 - H. MASUOKA MITSUBISHI Challenger / Montero SportÅ@Å@ T2 04:17:10 2 - J. KLEINSCHMIDT SCHLESSER ORIGÅ@Å@ T3.2 04:17:29 3 - B. SABY MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2Å@Å@ 04:19:51 4 - S. SERVIA NISSAN T2 04:21:43 5 - K. SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI PAJERO T2 04:22:44 6 - JP FONTENAY MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2 04:27:18 7 - JP STRUGO MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T3.1 04:33:31 8 - B.LHOTELLERIE MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T1 04:37:58 9 - E. ARGAZZI NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 04:39:28 10-J. PORCAR NISSANÅ@Å@ T1 04:44:56
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS13 / CLASSEMENT GENERAL après EC13
1 - K. SHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE (J/FR) MITSUBISHI PAJERO T2 59:59:21 2 - JP. FONTENAY / B. MUSMARRA (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2Å@Å@ +00:04:57 3 - B. SABY / D. SERIEYS (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJERO T2 +00:08:36 4 - H. MASUOKA/A. SCHULZ (J/D) MITSUBISHI CHALLENGER/MONTERO SPORTÅ@Å@ T2Å@Å@ +02:24:14 5 - J. KLEINSCHMIDT / J. BOUTAIRE (D/FR) SCHLESSER ORIGÅ@Å@ T3.2 +04:31:54 6 - S. SERVIA / G. PICARD (SP/FR) NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 +05:03:11 7 - JP STRUGO / B. CATARELLI (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T3.1 +06:10:25 8 - D. GUEDES / J. DUBOIS (POR / FR) NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 +09:10:56 9 - E. ARGAZZI/R. ARGAZZI (IT) NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 +09:26:26 10- C. SOUZA / P. REY (POR/FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T1 +09:50:47
Tomorrow, Saturday, January 18, 1997
Leg 14: Kiffa (Mauritania) - Saint Louis (senegal)
Special Stage: 166km
Dakar is in sight as the surviving competitors of the 1997 Dakar strike for home on the last, long competitive leg before the final stage at the Pink Lake near Dakar the following day. The leg from Kiffa in Mauritania to Saint Louis in Senegal is the longest of the event but, thankfully, most of it is non-competitive and the stage itself is just 166 km long. The first motorbike is due to start tomorrow morning at 04:00 and the first car at 05:20. The early start should see the first motorbike arriving on the Senegalese coast at around 16:45 tomorrow afternoon with the first car due at 18:05.
MITSUBISHI OIL / PIAA / OFF ROAD EXPRESS / MICHELIN
Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.