LEG 14 : KIFFA (MAURITANIA) - SAINT LOUIS (SENEGAL)
Distance : 751KM
Stage distance : 166KM
SAINT LOUIS, SENEGAL
Saturday, January 18, 1997
With the penultimate leg of the 1997 Dakar Rally between Kiffa in Mauritania and Saint Louis in Senegal now complete, Kenjiro Shinozuka now looks almost certain to make history as the first Japanese driver ever to win this famous, gruelling event in his Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero.
SHINOZUKA ALMOST HOME AS DAKAR VICTOR IN MITSUBISHI PAJERO
Co-driven by Frenchman Henri Magne, Shinozuka completed the last proper competitive section of the 8,500 km Dakar without drama with third fastest time, and now just 18 km of competitive driving at the famous Pink Lake near Dakar stands between the Japanese hero and outright victory for the first time in 12 attempts.
After a long, easy road section, the relatively short 166 km competitive section today took the remaining 83 cars and trucks over sandy terrain in the relatively barren northern Sahel, but the vegetation became more and more dense as they reached the Senegal river as they approached a rapturous welcome by thousands of cheering local people in the beautiful colonial town of Saint Louis.
Said Shinozuka: "I'm very pleased to be here. Although I was very careful in the stage, it was very fast and very enjoyable. I really relaxed and enjoyed myself. The car is perfect, so I am looking forward to the Pink Lake stage tomorrow."
French pair Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Bruno Musmarra won the today's leg in their Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero without problems. Jean-Pierre commented: "It was a superb stage - very beautiful. I went quite fast for the first 50 km to enjoy the driving, and then followed Shinozuka to the finish to support him." Fontenay now looks certain to clinch second place.
Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys, both from France, are third overall in their Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero after setting second fastest today. Saby said: "It was a long day for a short stage, but I was never worried about my car and we had no problems. It was a fast, flowing stage and we enjoyed it very much."
A delighted Ullrich Brehmer, Team Manager to the leading three Pajeros, congratulated his drivers for overcoming the last real hurdle of this great event and commented: "First, second and third on the stage and first second and third on the rally - it couldn't be more perfect. The cars are in perfect condition, so we are all looking forward to tomorrow."
Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka and his German navigator Andreas Schulz also made it through the final leg without problem in their Team Car Plaza Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger / Montero Sport. Masuoka said: "The stage was very suited to this car, and we enjoyed the driving without taking risks. I am very pleased with fourth place."
For the Pajero T1 Team, it looks like there will be plenty to celebrate tomorrow with Portuguese driver Carlos Souza and his partner Philippe Rey heading a Mitsubishi Pajero 1-2-3 in the T1 class into Senegal. Said Souza: "We went very, very carefully today to look after our car. Now we just have 18 km to go, and we feel very happy."
French pair Bruno Lhotellerie and Benoit Leheron are comfortable in second place in T1 in their Pajero with Spain's Miguel Prieto and Carlos Mas third in a similar vehicle. Both reported no problems today, Lhotellierie stating: "It was an enjoyable drive." To which Prieto added: "It was a very nice stage and we are happy to be third after a big fight with Alliot during the last week."
French pair Jean-Pierre Strugo and Bruno Catarelli were delighted at reaching Senegal in seventh place and leading the T3/1 class, Strugo reporting: "It was an early wake-up this morning and a long drive here, but it was a very pleasant stage - fast, but short. We had great fun and the result is more than we had hoped for."
The two Mitsubishi FR415 4WD-RS trucks made it through the stage in good time with no problems, both drivers Versino and Granjon tired but elated. "It has been hard work driving these trucks," said Versino. "They are very tough machines and we had no problems, but the narrow tracks in places made it hard work. Today, however, the stage was flowing and in these conditions the trucks are fantastic to drive and handle."
With Mitsubishis filling all the top places in almost every class of this year's Dakar with just one, short leg to go, it looks like the final blast around the Pink Lake of Dakar tomorrow will go down in history as a great moment for Mitsubishi.
SS14 /EC14 KIFFA - SAINT LOUIS 166KM
1 - JP FONTENAY MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2 01:31:50 2 - B. SABY MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2 01:33:08 3 - K. SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2Å@Å@ 01:33:32 4 - H. MASUOKA MITSUBISHI Challenger / Montero Sport T2 01:34:42 5 - J. KLEINSCHMIDT SCHLESSER ORIG T3.2 01:38:24 6 - D. GUEDES NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 01:40:05 7 - JP STRUGO MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T3.1 01:40:30 8 - S. SERVIA NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 01:40:50 9 - R. VILA ALTIMIR MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T1 01:42:00 10- E. ARGAZZI NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 01:44:00
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS14 / CLASSEMENT GENERAL après EC14
1 - K. SHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE (J/FR) MITSUBISHI PAJERO T2 61:32:53 2 - JP. FONTENAY / B. MUSMARRA (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2Å@Å@ +00:03:15 3 - B. SABY / D. SERIEYS (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJERO T2 +00:08:12 4 - H. MASUOKA/A. SCHULZ (J/D) MITSUBISHI CHALLENGER/MONTERO SPORTÅ@Å@ T2Å@Å@ +02:25:24 5 - J. KLEINSCHMIDT / J. BOUTAIRE (D/FR) SCHLESSER ORIGÅ@Å@ T3.2 +04:36:46 6 - S. SERVIA / G. PICARD (SP/FR) NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 +05:10:29 7 - JP STRUGO / B. CATARELLI (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T3.1 +06:17:23 8 - D. GUEDES / J. DUBOIS (POR / FR) NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 +09:17:29 9 - E. ARGAZZI/R. ARGAZZI (IT) NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 +09:36:54 10- C. SOUZA / P. REY (POR/FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T1 +10:06:09
Tomorrow, Sunday, January 19, 1997
Leg 15: Saint Louis (Senegal) - Dakar (Senegal)
Special Stage: 18km
Only a quick blast along the beach and around Dakar's famous Pink Lake remains for the surviving competitors in this year's epic Dakar Rally. The first motorbike is due to leave Saint Louis at 05:30 tomorrow and the first car at 07:50. The motorbikes will cross the finish line at around 12:20, and the winning car should drive onto the podium at 12:50.
MITSUBISHI OIL / PIAA / OFF ROAD EXPRESS / MICHELIN
Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.