MARLBORO UAE DESERT CHALLENGE (3-6 NOVEMBER)


1998 FIA WORLD CUP FOR CROSS COUNTRY RALLIES ROUND 7


 

PIAA Mitsubishi Dealer Team's Shinozuka
Finishes First Day in 4th Place

The final round of the 1998 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Desert Challenge, started from Dubai on the 3rd of November. The first leg was held in the desert to the south of Abu Dhabi. The field of 43 cars and 94 motorcycles was lead by Jean Pierre Fontenay over the 229.89 km special stage in a time of 2 hrs. 33 mins. 3 seconds. Fontenay is using this event as a test for the upcoming 1999 Granada-Dakar. 2nd place on the first leg was taken by World Cup Drivers' Points leader Jean Louis Schlesser in his Schlesser Buggy.

PIAA Mitsubishi Dealer Team driver Kenjiro Shinozuka (Mitsubishi Pajero) is attempting to be the first Japanese to take a World Championship Series title and has the hopes of Japan riding on his efforts. Shinozuka finished the leg in fourth place and in his usual cheerful fashion was quoted as saying " The race starts from now! "

To the people of the UAE, sand dunes are just something that is in your backyard. However, for Japanese people the endless waves of sand are a strange and wonderful " other world ". In the course guide the following comment," There are small dunes on the first leg ", looks strange. But because there is no testing or recce allowed for this event you can only believe what is written!!. The dunes are only 80 km from the start in Abu Dhabi, but it is getting over them that is the main challenge of the first day's competition. The four vehicles of Fontenay, Schlesser, Shinozuka and Jutta Kleinschmidt reached the 80 km mark with a gap between them, but the difference was only a few minutes.

However this sort of time difference can be reversed in a very short time on rallies that are ran over deep sand courses. The actual competition is with the continuous dunes themselves. " Even on the Paris-Dakar you don't experience dunes like these. We have GPS, but getting over this sort of terrain is very difficult ", commented Shinozuka. Schlesser said " I just aimed for the final destination point and drove in a straight line ". This strategy worked for him, but still the Pajero of Fontenay / Gilles Picard got to the goal faster than him. " We struck some really big dunes but the route map didn't show any way of getting past them and we didn't know what to do. So we drove in the direction of the finish using GPS and found some camel tracks on the way and followed them. So the tracks together with the GPS got as through ", said navigator Picard.

The amazing thing about camels is that they don't walk on soft sand, so when you see camel tracks they are over hard sand and if you follow them the chances of getting stuck are small. So, using the ultra-modern GPS and the ancient " camel tracks method " together, the pair made their way through the dunes to score the top time for the day and in the process ended up leading the event.

" I tried one route, got lost, went back and took another route. It would have been better to take a straighten line and then I could have taken Fontenay's route ", said an unhappy Shinozuka. Kleinschmidt got lost in the same sand dunes but didn't end up losing so much time.

Post Race Comments

Kenjiro Shinozuka : " There was more sand than I thought. There were a lot more dunes than is normal and they just continue for ever. I didn't know what sort of pace the other competitors went at but it was best to go at a speed that wasn't too risky, I think. I got lost in the dunes, which was unfortunate but couldn't be helped ".

Masaru Iwaihara / Dealer Mechanic : " The first day of the rally was the first day of work. We just followed what the French mechanics did at first but when we did our own work by ourselves and the French guys said " Well done! " it felt really good. The size of the dunes and the expanse of the sand were a surprise and really made you think. The Pajero that is used on the rally is really good to work on so replacing parts was easy, and I think we did a good job at the speed expected of us ".


OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER LEG1

1. J-P.FONTENAY F MITSUBISHI PAJERO 2.33.03 T3
2. J-L.SCHLESSER F SCHLESSER ORIGINAL 2.37.0 T3
3. J.KLEINSCHMIDT D MITSUBISHI PAJERO 2.40.23 T2
4. K.SHINOZUKA J MITSUBISHI PAJERO 2.43.34 T2
5. J.LIUKKONEN FIN LAND ROVER 2.52.04 T2
6. YJBILHILLI UAE NISSAN PATROL 2.55.40 T1
7. J.STRUGO P/P MITSUBISHI PAJERO 2.59.04 T1
8. M.COLOMBO I NISSAN PATROL 3.07.43 T2
9. S.QUANDT D MITSUBISHI PAJERO 3.08.24 T1
10. P.HORN UAE MERCEDES G-WAGON 3.14.40 T3

Nationality: F=France/ FIN=Finland/ D=Germany/ P=PORTUGAL/ J=Japan /UAE=United Arab Emirates


 

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Copyright 1998 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.