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PARIS - GRANADA - DAKAR 1998
Communique 15
LEG 13 : NEMA - TIDJIKJA
Distance : 749 KM
Stage distance : 745 KM

TIDJIKJA
Wednesday, January 14, 1998


MITSUBISHIS SURVIVE TOUGHEST DAY TO KEEP LEAD


After a drama-packed day in the Sahara Desert between Nema and Tidjikja in Mauritania, the dominant four Mitsubishis in this year's Paris-Dakar have maintained their stranglehold on the lead, despite 745 km of the worst terrain yet seen.

Temperatures soared into the mid-thirties in degrees Celsius as the 49 remaining cars and nine trucks ploughed through the sand dunes and sandy mountain passes which included the infamous Enji Pass on their way to the former French colonial fort at Tidjikja, an important oasis at the centre of the desert nation of Mauritania.

Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Gilles Picard remain in the lead in their Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, followed by team mates Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys in their Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero.
In third place is last year's rally winner, Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka and his French navigator Henri Magne in their Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero, while in fourth place, Japanese/German crew Hiroshi Masuoka and Andreas Schulz are still setting a comfortable pace in their Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger/Montero Sport.

This was the first leg of the second marathon section of the event, and so, while the remaining competitors may feel relieved to have struggled into Tidjikja in one piece, there are no armies of mechanics waiting there for them to help patch their machines together again. Any damage will have to be repaired by the crews themselves. For many, a sleepless night awaits!

Saby had hoped that yesterday's and today's tough stages would give him the opportunity to make up some time and catch his team mate for a battle to the finish in Dakar. But again today he was thwarted, this time when he lost around half an hour through various problems.

At Tidjikja, Saby admitted he has little chance of winning now, stating: "It was good for Jean-Pierre. We had some overheating problems with the car and we had to change direction into the wind for a while to cool it down. And we also got stuck for 10 minutes."


Fontenay reported problems of his own, but didn't lose as much time. He said: "We got stuck at the Enji Pass. We got a puncture on a big rock and had to do the whole climb on three wheels. We have a good lead, but it's too early to think of winning."

Shinozuka described how tough the day had been: "There were lots of rocks and camel grass everywhere. We squashed the exhaust pipe on a rock so we had to stop for five minutes to fix it. We also got stuck once, like Jean-Pierre at the Enji Pass. We had to reverse back and start again."

Further down the field, the privately-entered Mitsubishis are still setting the pace in the T1 category for standard cars, Frenchman Jean-Pierre Strugo having dominated the class so far in his Mitsubishi Pajero, running with the Mitsubishi International Team.

One of the most impressive performances so far has been that of French former Skiing World Champion, Luc Alphand who, despite his inexperience in the event has recently set a string of very good stage times, including a top 10 performance yesterday in his Mitsubishi Pajero. Team Mitsubishi International manager Karl Ille was full of praise for the newcomer, stating: "He has learned how to drive his Pajero very well. He understands the car and knows how to drive very fast.
He has a natural talent, which I think comes from being a successful sportsman in his own right. Also, because of his training and skiing he is also in good shape physically, which is important on this type of event. I think that some of the other competitors are a bit envious of his performance because this is his first time on the Dakar."

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS13 - TIDJIKJA - 745 KM

1.J.P.FONTENAY MITSUBISHI Pajero 10:01:30 T2
2.K.SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI Pajero 10:05:34 T2
3.B.SABY MITSUBISHI Pajero 10:34:46 T2
4.H.MASUOKA MITSUBISHI Challenger 10:49:35 T2
5.P.ALLIOT NISSAN 11:44:15 T3
6.T.DE LAVERGNE NISSAN 11:50:70 T3
7.D.HOUSIEAUX NISSAN 11:54:08 T3
8.J.L.SCHLESSER BUGGY Original 12:11:55 T3
9.J.KLEINSCHMIDT BUGGY Original 12:26:02 T3
10.M. PRIETO MITSUBISHI Montero 12:54:55 T2
...      


GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS13

1.J.P.FONTENAY / G. PICARD MITSUBISHI Pajero 50:35:45 T2
2.B.SABY / D. SERIEYS MITSUBISHI Pajero +00:46:12 T2
3.KSHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE MITSUBISHI Pajero +01:59:44 T2
4.H.MASUOKA / A. SCHULZ MITSUBISHI Challenger +03:28:27 T2
5.J.L.SCHLESSER / A.C. PAUWELS BUGGY Original +06:25:18 T3
6.P.ALLIOT / J. DUBOIS NISSAN +08:32:39 T3
7.T.DE LAVERGNE / L. ARGUELLES NISSAN +09:46:08 T3
8.D.HOUSIEAUX / M. DOMINELLA NISSAN +10:33:34 T3
9.M.PRIETO / F. GIL MITSUBISHI Montero 13:36:52 T2
10.B.HANCIAUX / J. LURQUIN NISSAN +14:02:25 T3
...      



updated 9:00 pm


Tomorrow, Thursday, January 15, 1998
LEG 14: TIDJIKJA - ATAR
Distance: 394 KM
Special Stage: 358 KM


After today's horrendous stage, any of the remaining competitors who think tomorrow's shorter section will be much easier will be sadly mistaken. Short, perhaps, but sharp, it will be. Navigation will be difficult, and for the drivers, the main challenge will be crossing the Chinguetti dunes. They are said to be most beautiful in the world, but they will be difficult to conquer in any vehicle.


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


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Copyright 1998 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.