PIAA Mitsubishi Dealer Team
Kenjiro Shinozuka Faces Desert Challenge in UAE
Japan's most successful rally ace, Kenjiro Shinozuka, will tackle the UAE Desert Challenge, which starts from Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, November 3, 1998, with a Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution in the T2 category for Improved Cross Country Cars.
After round 6 of the Baja Espania - the Master Rally (round. 7) has been canceled, because of the paralysis of the Russian banking system which has pluged the country into a tense social climate - Mitsubishi is leading in the 1998 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies / manufactures. Since they are 121 points ahead of Toyota, they are quite confident that the UAE Desert Challenge will bring Mitsubishi to a successful conclusion.
PIAA Mitsubishi Dealer Team, Kenjiro Shinozuka and navigator Henri Magne are currently in second place behind buggy driver Jean-Louis Schlesser. The Japanese driver has been consistently quicker in his Pajero / Montero than his French rival Schlesser, but bad luck has plagued Kenjiro's challenge. The UAE Desert Challenge will provide Shinozuka with one last opportunity to defeat his rival this year in a race over the towering sand dunes of the Middle Eastern desert.
In order to prepare for the 1999 Dakar, there are many familiar drivers. 1998 Dakar winner Jean-Pierre Fontenay, co-driven by Gilles Picard, will also drive a Mitsubishi Pajero / Montero similar to the one in which he scored his famous victory earlier this year in this African classic. They will be joined by a host of semi-works and private entrants, all choosing Mitsubishis in which to contest this gruelling event, including German lady driver Jutta Kleinschmidt, who will be partnered by top World Rally Championship female co-driver Tina Thorner of Sweden.
The extremely high temperatures and deep, power-sapping sand of this unique event will test man and machine to the highest degree as they blast through endless sand dunes for four days, covering 1,810km in the process. There will be five competitive sections totaling 1,221km in length, finishing with the spectacular Jebel Ali "Grand Prix" Super Special, a very short stage for the entertainment of spectators of just 2km in length before the rally finish at the Hyatt hotel in Dubai.
The event will start on November 3 with a 285km leg from the Abu Dhabi Corniche to the first bivouac at Arjan Mast; unlike many of the more basic bivouacs found on some nights on the Dakar, the UAE event is famed for its luxurious desert hospitality! The competitors had better be grateful for the luxury of this sumptuous overnight break, for the next day they will be far from comfort and civilization as they tackle some of the most difficult desert terrain in the world, including the 442km Manasir stage on day two, and the tough 290km section on day three through the infamous and aptly-named Empty Quarter.
The final long stage on day four, before the final super special, will take the survivors on a 254km trek through the Northern Loop before heading for the Jebel Ali "Grand Prix" and the finish at the Hyatt hotel on Friday, November 6.
Kenjiro Shinozuka commented on his forthcoming 1998 UAE Desert challenge;
"The event is the final test for the 1999 Dakar and the final step towards the World Cup. I am sure Mitsubishi will take the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rally / Manufacturers' series Champion. But with the cancellation of the Master Rally, the Drivers' title has become a real possiblity. I will give it my best!"
Marlboro UAE Desert Challenge
|LEG 1 - Abu Dhabi to Arjan ( 285 km)
||Maqtara to Arjan Mast Bivouac
|LEG 2 - Arjan to Arjan ( 470 km)
|LEG 3 - Arjan to Arjan ( 480 km)
||Rub Al Khali / Empty Quarter
|LEG 4 - Arjan to Arjan (437 km)
||Northern Loop to Al Lisaili
||Jebei Ali Grand Prix Super Special