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PARIS - GRANADA - DAKAR 1998
Communique 10
LEG 9 : EL MREITI - TAOUDENNI
Distance : 478 KM
Stage distance : 478 KM

TAOUDENNI
Friday, January 9, 1998


MITSUBISHIS HOLD FIRST FOUR PLACES AS RALLY ENTERS MALI



The first marathon section of the 20th Paris-Dakar, which started yesterday, has taken a terrible toll as the remaining 35 cars ploughed on through howling desert sand storms and thousands of steep dunes on today's leg from Mauritania to Mali. However, the leading trio of Mitsubishi Pajeros have emerged from Leg 9 triumphant, and Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka scored the fastest time in his Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger/Montero Sport to move into third place, making it a Mitsubishi 1-2-3-4.

French pair Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Gilles Picard remain at the top of the leader board in their Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, with fellow countrymen Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys second in their Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero.
With Masuoka and his German co-driver Andreas Schulz now in third place, Japanese ace Kenjiro Shinozuka, navigated by Frenchman Henri Magne, are now in fourth to complete Mitsubishi's total domination of the event so far.

If yesterday's leg had been one of the toughest yet seen on a Paris-Dakar rally, then today's section was in a different league. Although temperatures are soaring into the high twenties in degrees Celsius, the strong winter winds that afflict the Sahara at this time of the year are blowing great sand storms which make the going extremely difficult. Endless rows of sand dunes caused many competitors to get stuck again today leaving crews exhausted as they reached Taoudenni, and punctures slowed many more.

Although the leading Mitsubishi's managed to see off their competition, they too suffered many delays. Realising the stage would be extremely hazardous, they ran close together to offer support in a true team spirit. Even though he won the stage, Masuoka spent 30 minutes stuck in the sand, and both Saby and Fontenay suffered punctures,
and all were worried about tomorrow's stage after using up many spare wheels.

Saby explained: "We all had many punctures today in the Mitsubishi team. Now the real rally raid has started! We all had to support each other today, but the big worry is that we have to wait until late tonight for the trucks to arrive to see how many spare tyres we will have for tomorrow. We may be short, so we will have to be careful."

All cars carry only two spares, and Fontenay thought his rally was finished when he suffered a third puncture during today's leg between the second and third check points. However, Shinozuka came to his rescue and gave the Frenchman one of his spares so he could continue.

Exhausted after today's efforts, Shinozuka said: "The sand was some of the softest I have ever seen in the Sahara. For an old man like me, so much digging is very hard! Dakar seems a long way away!"

Good news for the Spanish pair of Ramon Vila Altimir and Enric Gonzales Carpi they took yesterday the lead of the T1 category -
the standard car class - with the Mitsubishi Montero n 246.

Mitsubishi's rivals have been extremely unfortunate. The challenge to Mitsubishi's dominance that emerged yesterday from Jutta Kleinschmidt's buggy faded almost as quickly as it appeared when the German woman stopped only 44 km into the stage with mechanical problems.

Although just 35 cars made the start on time this morning, those still making their way through yesterday's stage were given 26 hours "time allowance", and 97 cars and 14 trucks are therefore officially still in the event.

 

 

SS9 - TAOUDENNI - 478 KM

1.H.MASUOKA MITSUBISHI Challenger 06:06:09 T2
2.B.SABY MITSUBISHI Pajero 06:08:14 T2
3.J.P.FONTENAY MITSUBISHI Pajero 06:11:59 T2
4.K.SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI Pajero 06:15:28 T2
5.J.L.SCHLESSER BUGGY Original 06:19:43 T3
6.T.DE LAVERGNE NISSAN 06:33:06 T3
7.P.ALLIOT NISSAN 06:49:25 T3
8.B.HANCIAUX NISSAN 06:52:31 T3
...      

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS9

1.J.P.FONTENAY / G. PICARD MITSUBISHI Pajero 29:25:45 T2
2.B. SABY / D. SERIEYS MITSUBISHI Pajero +00:10:42 T2
3.H. MASUOKA / A. SCHULZ MITSUBISHI Challenger +01:41:09 T2
4.K.SHINOZUKA / H.MAGNE MITSUBISHI Pajero +01:43:22 T2
5.J.L.SCHLESSER / A.C. PAUWELS BUGGY Original +03:39:31 T3
6.P. ALLIOT / J. DUBOIS NISSAN +05:17:30 T3
7.T. DE LAVERGNE / L. ARGUELLES NISSAN +06:33:52 T3
8.D. HOUSIEAUX / M. DOMINELLA NISSAN +06:44:33 T3
...      


Tomorrow, Saturday, January 10, 1998
LEG 10: TAOUDENNI - GAO
Distance: 918 KM
Special Stage: 806 KM


Tomorrow's stage will be the last part of this week's marathon section, much to the relief of the remaining competitors as they look forward to their rest day at Gao - the halfway point of the event. However, the long 806 km stage they face tomorrow will be quite a hurdle, as they will be attempting to cover a route across the desert floor that takes the local camel trains 40 days, in just a few hours! It will be the longest competitive section in the rally, but the organisers promise it will not be as hard as the previous two days.

MITSUBISHI OIL-PIAA-OFF ROAD EXPRESS-MICHELIN-HALF TIME/JT CORPORATION


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Copyright 1998 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.