MARLBORO UAE DESERT CHALLENGE (3-6 NOVEMBER)


1998 FIA WORLD CUP FOR CROSS COUNTRY RALLIES ROUND 7


 

Second Day of the Event sees the Field Challenge
the Desert Dunes of the UAE Shinozuka`s Pajero Gets Stuck

The 4th of November saw the second leg of the UAE Desert Challenge held over a 469 km course in the desert west of the city of Abu Dhabi. The 442 km of Special Stage was covered in the fastest time by Schlesser , followed by Fontenay and Shinozuka. The overall standings for the event so far have Fontenay`s Pajero in the top spot, with Schlesser 1 min. 2 secs. in arrears and Kenjiro Shinozuka in third place 30 minutes and 23 seconds behind him.

The whole Arabian Peninsula is desert. UAE (United Arab Emirates) is next to Saudi Arabia and together they form part of the Lub al Hari. As you can tell from the name of the event, it is a challenge against the desert and all of the competitors take part with full knowledge of this fact.
However, the trail that extends through the desert is over dry sand and the rally course goes along it and through the desert dunes.

"One of the organizers said that yesterday and today`s course wasn't that difficult, but if this is easy I dread thinking about how difficult the dunes are going to be to get through on tomorrow`s third leg," said Kenjiro Shinozuka with a grimace at the bivouac after the day`s competition was finished.

The Arabian desert has been giving Shinozuka a hard time. On day one he got lost. Furthermore, he had just started the day`s course when he got stuck, and after only covering 30 kilometers!

To roll back the 30 min. difference to the leaders is going to be difficult in the remaining 2 days, but who knows the fortune that awaits the competitors in the desert. In the event so far, all of the front runners have got stuck or lost at least once, so it it not just Shinozuka that has had misfortune. It is just the amount of bad luck that is different.

Shinozuka has been going as hard as he can. For instance, he got stuck and lost 20 minutes, but then he managed to close the gap to the leaders by ten minutes by the end of the day. The terrain is a continuous series of small dunes and the car has been thrown around fiercely in the tough conditions. In one case he came over a dune and hit the following one heavily, and the sand ripped the front bumper off. 'I didn`t know we had lost it. It was only after the finish that I looked at the front of the car and noticed it had gone. It seems it was pushed upwards from below and then caught in the sand and ripped off. We didn`t collide with anything, if we had I would have noticed at the time.' (Kenjiro Shinozuka)

The tough aluminium under-guard on the Pajero of lady driver Jutta Kleinshmidt (Germany) was also given enough rough treatment to bend it, and the middle section of the vehicle`s front bumper had a considerable dent in it. "I lost time after I got stuck. This desert is a lot more difficult than I heard it was. But tomorrow will be a lot worse, it seems." (Kleishmidt)

She has done the Paris-Dakar 8 times, 4 on a motorcycle and 4 in four wheeled vehicles. She has actually completed the Dakar on a motorcycle, a feat that shows how tough she is, but after the second leg that finished today even she didn`t get out of her car smiling. It will be the dunes on the third leg that will be the deciding factor in the competition.

2nd Leg Comments.
Kenjiro Shinozuka
I just sunk into the sand completely. Because it was really soft we lost 20 minutes getting out. I thought we would have a chance to make back some time today but it didn`t happen. Tomorrow is the most difficult part on the course, so I`ll just have to go for it.

Junji Tanaka (Dealer Mechanic)
Well, it is the second day of the rally and I have got a little more used to the job. Because I feel a little more comfortable I am more able to judge what I should do when helping the other mechanics. I am working on the Kleinshmidt vehicle with the French guys and we are communicating through gestures to get the job done. In Japan we mostly use air tools, but here in the desert we use spanners most of the time. I didn`t realise how bad I was at using a spanner!


OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER LEG2

1. J-P.FONTENAY F MITSUBISHI PAJERO 7.12.55 T2
2. J-L.SCHLESSER F SCHLESSER ORIGINAL 7.13.57 T3
3. K.SHINOZUKA J MITSUBISHI PAJERO 7.43.18 T2
4. J.KLEINSCHMIDT D MITSUBISHI PAJERO 7.52.48 T2
5. Y.BILHILLI UAE NISSAN PATROL 8.25.36 T1
6. J.LIUKKONEN FIN LAND ROVER 8.33.38 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.