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PARIS - GRANADA - DAKAR 1998
Communique 13
LEG 11 : GAO - TIMBUKTU
Distance : 420 KM
Stage distance : 411 KM

TIMBUKTU
Monday, January 12, 1998


MITSUBISHI RULES AS RALLY REACHES TIMBUKTU


The world's toughest rally, the Paris-Dakar, reached one of the most famous of Africa's remote outposts today, January 12, at Timbuktu in Mali, with Mitsubishi Pajeros still heading the field after a 420 km drive along the north bank of the mighty Niger, Africa's second longest river after the Nile.

Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Gilles Picard are still in control at the head of the field in their Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero.
But they have a battle on their hands, as team mates Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys step up the pace, just under 10 minutes behind in second place in their Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero.

Kenjiro Shinozuka, from Japan, and his French navigator Henri Magne, last year's winners, managed to work their way up to third overall from fourth in the Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero, while Japanese/German pairing Hiroshi Masuoka and Andreas Schulz now hold fourth in the Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger/Montero Sport.

It had been a relatively easy drive through the dunes and mangroves along the banks of the Niger, and certainly one of the most spectacular. It seemed that all of the inhabitants of Timbuktu - once an ancient Tuareg trading post packed with over 100,000 merchants and traders, now a dusty village of around 15,000 souls - had turned out to welcome the weary survivors after their rigours in the desert.
Around 50 cars, 12 trucks and 87 bikers, the scant remains of the 349 starters, are expected to make it to the almost mythical Malian village.

Fontenay was the first to agree the day was easy, but he warned of the intense battle ahead during the final 3,000 km race to Dakar, stating: "Today we had no problems. The car is perfect - it finished as new as it started. But now it's maximum attack, with maximum care. It is between Bruno and I at the moment, but if either of us make a mistake, both Shinozuka and Masuoka are waiting to take our place."

Saby concurred, and revealed: "We had a temperature problem with our front differential today for the first 100 kms. It is going to be a hard fight to win my second Dakar."

Shinozuka reported: "I had one puncture today. Otherwise, it was a good day. The stage was very good - a real driver's stage - and lots of fun."

While the success of Mitsubishi continued, it was a bad day for Toyota, the team withdrawing from the event at Gao. Thanks to the tough stages during the first week, both the Land Cruisers of Philippe Wambergue and Joseph Maria Servia were left without assistance from their support trucks which perished in the Saharan sand two days ago.
Without this support, they had no choice but to retire.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishis still control the top positions in T1, the class for near standard cars, with Frenchman Jean-Pierre Strugo in first place in his Pajero, and Spain's Vila Altimir second in his Montero. Mitsubishi's FR415 4WD-RS truck appears to be going strong as well, in the capable hands of Gilbert Versino, and French World Ski Champion seems to be as adept at slithering down sand dunes as snowy slopes, in a Mitsubishi Pajero rather than skis of course, and is holding his own in the top 20.

 

 

SS11 - TIMBUKTU - 411 KM

1.B.SABY MITSUBISHI Pajero 03:37:52 T2
2.J.P.FONTENAY MITSUBISHI Pajero 03:39:09 T2
3.J.L.SCHLESSER BUGGY Original 03:49:45 T3
4.K.SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI Pajero 03:54:13 T2
5.H.MASUOKA MITSUBISHI Challenger 04:02:11 T2
6.H.PESCAROLO PROTRUCK 04:07:15 T3
7.T.DE LAVERGNE NISSAN 04:08:58 T3
8.P.ALLIOT NISSAN 04:11:15 T3
9.J.KLEINSCHMIDT BUGGY Original 04:12:18 T3
10.C.SOUZA MITSUBISHI Strada 04:13:24 T3
11.D.HOUSIEAUX NISSAN 04:14:11 T3
12.B.HANCIAUX NISSAN 04:17:17 T3
13.L.ALPHAND MITSUBISHI Pajero 04:21:22 T3
14.B.TEN HARKEL MITSUBISHI Pajero 04:24:01 T1
15.R.VILA ALTIMIR MITSUBISHI Montero 04:26:41 T1
16.M. PRIETO MITSUBISHI Montero 04:27:18 T2
19.J.P.STRUGO MITSUBISHI Pajero 04:45:11 T1

 

 

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS11

1.J.P.FONTENAY / G. PICARD MITSUBISHI Pajero 33:04:54 T2
2.B.SABY / D. SERIEYS MITSUBISHI Pajero +00:09:25 T2
3.K.SHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE MITSUBISHI Pajero +01:58:26 T2
4. H.MASUOKA / A. SCHULZ MITSUBISHI Challenger +02:04:11 T2
5.J.L.SCHLESSER / A.C. PAUWELS BUGGY Original +03:50:07 T3
6.P.ALLIOT / J. DUBOIS NISSAN +05:49:36 T3
7.T.DE LAVERGNE / L. ARGUELLES NISSAN +07:03:41 T3
8.D.HOUSIEAUX / M. DOMINELLA NISSAN +07:19:35 T3
9.M.PRIETO / F. GIL MITSUBISHI Montero +09:10:14 T2
10.B.HANCIAUX / J. LURQUIN NISSAN +09:46:41 T3
11.S.SERVIA / W. ALCARAZ NISSAN +11:04:05 T2
12.JP.STRUGO / B. CATARELLI MITSUBISHI Pajero +11:24:46 T1
13.R.VILA ALTIMIR/E. GONZALES CARPI MITSUBISHI Montero +11:50:21 T1
14.B.TEN HARKEL / H. DEN TOOM MITSUBISHI Pajero +12:53:18 T1
16.C.SOUZA / P. REY MITSUBISHI Strada +13:44:03 T3
17.L.ALPHAND / A. DEBRON MITSUBISHI Pajero +20:00:39 T3


updated 6:30 pm


Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 13, 1998
LEG 12: TIMBUKTU - NEMA
Distance: 559 KM
Special Stage: 551 KM

After today's pleasant drive along the Niger River, it's back to reality tomorrow as the Paris-Dakar heads back into the desert along "The Smuggler's Trail", a little-known route used for the first time of the event that takes the surviving adventurers back into Mauritania.


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Copyright 1998 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.