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DAKAR-AGADES-DAKAR 1997
Communique 9
LEG 8 : TAHOUA (NIGER) - AGADES (NIGER)
Distance : 828KM
Stage distance : 575KM
AGADES,
Saturday, January 11, 1997


SHINOZUKA LEADS AT AGADES AS MITSUBISHI DOMINATES DAKAR


At the half-way point of the gruelling 8,518 km Dakar Rally, Japanese ace Kenjiro Shinozuka and his French partner Henri Magne have opened up a 1m 42s lead in their Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero, heading a fabulous Mitsubishi 1-2-3-4 at Agades after today's eighth leg.

Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Bruno Musmarra, both from France, finished the leg in second place in their Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, 1m 21s behind Shinozuka to finish the 825 km leg in second place overall. French pair Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys finished the day in third for third place overall in their Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, although they seemed to lose touch with the leading pair after becoming stuck on a sand dune. Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka and his German partner Andreas Schulz consolidated their fourth position in the Team Car Plaza Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger / Montero Sport, while Portuguese pair Carlos Souza and Philippe Rey strengthened their grip on the T1 category, leading the event by almost 55 minutes in their Mitsubishi Pajero from fellow Pajero drivers, French pair Bruno Lhotellerie and Benoit Leheron making it a Mitsubishi 1-2 in the class for near-standard vehicles.

It was another blazingly hot day in Niger as the 102 remaining trucks and cars set out from Tahoua for the long trek to Agadez, traversing the first proper desert stage of the rally. Despite the heat, with temperatures once again in the high thirties Celsius, Shinozuka remained cool as he set out to extend his tiny 21 second lead.

Said Shinozuka: "It was very difficult today, more than expected. Yes, it was sandy and fast, as I expected, but I had the sun in my eyes which made it difficult to see. I hit a big dip after a dune very hard and banged my head on the steering wheel and damaged my bumper, but otherwise I had no problems. I really enjoy driving this car and it has been so reliable despite some very hard competition with Jean Pierre and Bruno's Pajero this week."

As Frenchman Fontenay surveyed the superficial damage on Shinozuka's car, he too admitted to the same frightening moment. "Yes, I hit it too," he said. The route was very fast through the desert for about 300 km flat out, but there were lots of rocks so I had to concentrate very hard."

Bruno Saby was feeling rather disappointed. He admitted: "I got stuck on top of a dune just 10 km from the finish. Perhaps I missed a gear or something, but I am very angry with myself because I must have lost six or eight minutes." Even though he was defending his fourth place against German lady Jutta Kleinschmidt, Hiroshi Masuoka showed the true spirit of sportsmanship that pervades Mitsubishi in motor sport when he stopped to help his rival in the desert. Kleinschmidt, driving a T3 special, had stopped with engine problems while in fifth place and the Japanese Mitsubishi driver stopped to offer his rival some engine oil to help her on her way.

Still inside the top 10 and delighted with their performances are French pair Jean-Pierre Strugo and Bruno Cattarelli, and Thailand's Pornsawan Sirriwattanakun and Suvanarat Tull, both in Mitsubishi Pajeros and in eighth and ninth respectively. Carlos Souza and Philippe Rey, from Portugal, are extremely happy with their extended lead in T1 in their Pajero after applying a strategy of careful driving that paid off early.

In the truck class, the two Mitsubishi FR415 4WD-RS trucks are reported to be storming their way through the competitive section like great ships of the desert, but will naturally arrive very late in the evening in Agadez after such a long trip from Tahoua.



SS8 /EC8 TAHOUA - AGADES 575KM

Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@
1 - K. SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI PAJEROT2 04:55:20
2 - JP FONTENAY MITSUBISHI PAJEROT2 04:56:41
3 - B. SABY MITSUBISHI PAJEROT205:01:44
4 - H. MASUOKA MITSUBISHI CHALLENGER/MONTERO SPORT T2 05:14:34
5 - M. TRAGLIO / M. DOMINELLA (I) NISSANT2 05:36:59
6 - J. KLEINSCHMIDT SCHLESSER ORIG T32 05:37:26
7 - D. GUEDES NISSANT2 05:43:16
8 - P. SIRIWATANAKUN / T. SUVANARAT MITSUBISHI PAGEROT2 05:44:41
9 - S. SERVIA/G. PICARD NISSANT2 05:47:47
10 - JP STRUGO / B. CATARELLI (FR) MITSUBISHI PAGEROT3 06:02:57



GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS8 / CLASSEMENT GENERAL après EC8

Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@ Å@Å@
1 - K. SHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE (J/FR) MITSUBISHI PAJERO T2 35:30:58
2 - JP. FONTENAY/B. MUSMARRA (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROT2+00:01:42
3 - B. SABY / D. SERIEYS (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJERO T2 +00:11:36
4 - H. MASUOKA/A. SCHULZ (J/D) MITSUBISHI CHALLENGER/MONTERO SPORTT2+02:08:39
5 - S. SERVIA / G. PICARD (SP/FR) NISSANT2 +04:14:38
6 - J. KLEINSCHMIDT / J. BOUTAIRE (D/FR) SCHLESSER ORIGT3.2 +04:39:36
7 - M. TRAGLIO / M. DOMINELLA (I) NISSANT2 +04:44:18
8 - JP STRUGO / B. CATARELLI (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROT3.1 +05:19:37
9 - P. SIRIWATANAKUN / T. SUVANARAT MITSUBISHI PAJEROT2 +05:40:18
10- E. ARGAZZI/R. ARGAZZI (IT) NISSANT2 +07:05:28
11- C. SOUZA/P. REY (POR/FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROT1 +07:17:29


Tomorrow, Sunday, January 12, 1997
Agades (Niger)

REST DAY


While the drivers and navigators enjoy a day of complete rest tomorrow in the warm sunshine of Agadez, the mechanics and technicians will hardly have time to draw breath as they prepare their machines for the coming week of hard competition in Niger, Mauritania, Mali and Senegal. The rally is far from over, and most will work through the coolness of the night, and rest during the heat in the day in an effort to ensure perfect reliability for the competing crews.




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Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.