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DAKAR-AGADES-DAKAR 1997
Communique 4
LEG 3 : KAYES (MALI) - NARA (MALI)
Distance : 592KM
Stage distance : 552KM
Stage distance to finish: 6745KM
NARA, MALI
Monday, January 6, 1997


MITSUBISHIS CONTINUE TO DOMINATE DAKAR RALLY


Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka struck another blow for Mitsubishi in the gruelling Dakar Rally in Africa today as he and French navigator Henri Magne powered their way into the lead with a dominating fastest time between Kayes and Nara in Mali, driving the Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero.

Shinozuka was 3m 43s faster than his nearest rival over the long, hot and dusty 552km competitive section, surviving ambient temperatures in excess of 35 degrees Celsius in the strong sunshine through the Sahel.

The Japanese driver leads by 2m 41s at the third overnight bivouac ahead of Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser, who is in turn followed by three Mitsubishis making it four Mitsubishis in the top five. French pair Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Bruno Musmarra are third in their Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, followed by fellow countrymen Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys in the Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero and Japanese ace Hiroshi Masuoka, partnered by German Andreas Schulz, in the Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Car Plaza Challenger / Monteiro Sport.

After his breathtaking display of dominance, an exhausted Shinozuka reported: "Everything went very well today - no problems. About 150 km of the course was very fast on a very hard surface, then it was a sandy track and very twisty with deep ruts. That was very hard work and it was very, very hot. The ruts were so deep that we kept bottoming out, and sometimes we had to drive off the track to keep going. But the Pajero is in perfect condition, which is very important at this time."

Today's third leg was undoubtedly the toughest so far; it was the second part of the three day marathon were little servicing is allowed, and the priority is to get to Timbouctou tomorrow where the airborne mechanics will be waiting to effect repairs.

Early rally leader Jean-Pierre Fontenay was delayed briefly today when his electrics shorted out, but after ten minutes his co-driver Bruno Musmarra had solved the problem . "We had to stop and repair some wires," said Bruno. "I burnt my fingers in the process, but at least we got going again!"

Team mate Bruno Saby was fourth quickest to clinch fourth place after suffering two punctures. "It was such a long and very tiring day," admitted Saby. "And I know there is worse to come. Once when we had to change a wheel today, the jack kept sinking into the sand and the car kept falling off, so it was very tough. This Dakar is the hardest ever, and we've only just started. This format, I think, represents the future - it's a great challenge; better than ever."

Masuoka also suffered problems with a puncture and further delays when he had trouble opening and closing the tailgate on the Challenger / Monteiro Sport after changing a wheel. "We had to struggle to get the door closed, and eventually I had to secure it with tape. It was a very hard today, but like all the other Mitsubishis, at least we have had no mechanical problems despite the hard terrain."

Further down the field, Jean-Pierre Strugo and Bruno Cattarelli, both from France, recovered their composure today to climb back to ninth position in their Mitsubishi Pajero after dropping to 13th at Kayes with minor but time-consuming mechanical problems. Spaniards Miguel Prieto and Carlos Mas climbed to 16th at Kayes in their Mitsubishi Pajero, and were reported to be going well in their trek to Nara.

Japanese all-girl crew Makiko Tomokawa and Akemi Asada were going strong in their PIAA-backed Mitsubishi Pajero, Tomokawa reporting: "The car is going very well, but I am driving carefully because I want to get back to Dakar." Brazilian crew Klever Kolberg and Joao Mesquita were also holding their own in 52nd place at Kayes, enjoying their first attempt at the Dakar in a Mitsubishi Pajero.

Souza co driven by Rey on the Mitsubishi Pajero T1 from Portugal are leading the T1 category. In the truck category, the Mitsubishi FR415RS driven by G. Versino, C. Lacourt and C. Versino was in fifth place at the end of the second leg, without problem.

One hundred and twenty-six cars and trucks started the third leg from Kayes, but after such a tough day, the number of finishers at Nara will probably not come to light until well into the night.



SS3 /EC3 KAYES - NARA 552KM

                          
1 - K. SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI PAJEROT206:28:37
2 - JL.SCHLESSER SCHLESSER ORIG T32 06:32:20
3 - JP. FONTENAY MITSUBISHI PAJEROT2 06:32:39
4 - B. SABY MITSUBISHI PAJEROT2 06:33:24
5 - H. MASUOKA MITSUBISHI CALLENGER/MONTERO SPORT T2 06:55:32
6 - T. DE LAVERGNE NISSANT2 07:06:03
7 - J. KLEINSCHMIDT SCHLESSER ORIGT32 07:07:44
8 - JP STRUGO MITSUBISHI PAJEROT31 07:15:38
9 - S. SERVIA NISSANT2 07:19:56
10- D. GUEDES TOYOTA T2 07:22:28



GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS3 / CLASSEMENT GENERAL apres EC3

                                
1 - K. SHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE (J/FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROT214:46:18
2 - JL. SCHLESSER /P. MONNET (FR) SCHLESSER ORIGT32+00:02:41
3 - JP. FONTENAY/B. MUSMARRA (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROT2 +00:04:12
4 - B. SABY / D. SERIEYS (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJERO T2 +00:04:33
5 - H. MASUOKA/A. SCHULZ (J/D) MITSUBISHI CALLENGER/MONTERO SPORTT2 +00:31:25
6 - T. DE LAVERGNE / L. ARGUELLES (FR) NISSANT2 +00:55:20
7 - S. SERVIA / G. PICARD (SP/FR) NISSANT2 +01:21:45
8 - M. TRAGLIO/M. DOMINELLA (I) NISSANT2 +01:40:22
9 - JP STRUGO / B. CATARELLI (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROT31 +01:41:03
10- J. SERVIA I COSTA / J. PUJOLAR TOYOTA T31 +01:51:42


Tomorrow, Thuesday, January 7, 1997
Leg 4: Nara (Mali) - Timbouctou
Distance: 666 km
Special Stage: 658 km

Tomorrow sees the final of the three long marathon legs, but the fourth day will also be the toughest so far. With no liaison sections, the competitors will leave Nara and head straight for Timbouctou along a massive 658 km competitive section that will test man and machine to the limit in the expected hot conditions.

The first motorbike is due to leave Nara at 07:00 arriving at Timbouctou at approximately 15:30, while the cars leave at 08:35 and are due to finish at around 17:05.




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Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.