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PARIS - GRANADA - DAKAR 1998
Communique 17
LEG 15 : ATAR - BOUTILIMIT
Distance : 493 KM
Stage distance : 296 KM


BOUTILIMIT, MAURITANIA
Friday, January 16, 1998


MITSUBISHIS LOOK SET FOR VICTORY IN DAKAR


With the toughest of the stages in this year's Paris-Dakar Rally now complete, Mitsubishi is now on the home straight for what may be a fine victory in the Senegalese capital of Dakar. Three Mitsubishi Pajeros and a Challenger/Montero Sport hold the first four places, with Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Gilles Picard in first place in their Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero.

Barring disaster, which can't be ruled out in this African adventure, the leading three Mitsubishi Pajeros,
and the fourth placed Mitsubishi Challenger/Montero Sport all look safe, as the event halts for the night at the Mauritanian outpost of Boutilimit, before the last three stages over two days into Dakar.

A major sand storm hit today's leg of the final marathon section, from Atar to Boutilimit, which forced the organisers to shorten the 456 km stage to just 290 km. Many of the event's helicopters were grounded in the 75 km/h winds that swept across the Sahara Desert, but that didn't stop the leading Mitsubishis cruising through the lunar-like Adrar Mountains and the towering Saharan sand dunes of the region unchallenged.

Although we can be all but certain that a Mitsubishi will win the rally, today's events proved that it was too early to predict which one of the Pajero drivers will cross the finish line first at Dakar. Seemingly safe in second place at the start of the day when they started along with the other 39 surviving car crews, Frenchmen Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys, driving the Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, suddenly dropped to third at Boutilimit after finishing just 18th fastest on the stage for reasons that have yet to be reported.

Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka, navigated by Frenchman Henri Magne,
in the Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero are now up to second place. In fourth place, the same position as last year, Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka and his German co-driver Andreas Schulz also enjoy a healthy margin over their nearest rivals in their Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger/Montero Sport.

Spanish driver Miguel Prieto also looks set to reach his goal of arriving in Dakar in the top 10 in his Mitsubishi Montero. An excellent performance again today ensured his position in ninth overall. The Team Mitsubishi International driver said: "The last few days have been very good. We have only had a small fuel pump problem, otherwise the Montero has been fantastic."

One of the most impressive performances today came from Brazilian driver Kolberg in his Mitsubishi Pajero. In his near standard car, he scored an incredible seventh fastest time overall, and was by far the fastest in the T1 category.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS 15 - BOUTILIMIT - 296 KM

1.J.P.FONTENAY MITSUBISHI Pajero 04:33:39 T2
2.K.SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI Pajero 04:35:55 T2
3.J.L.SCHLESSER BUGGY Original 04:40:50 T3
4.P.ALLIOT NISSAN 04:58:08 T3
5.J.KLEINSCHMIDT BUGGY Original 05:04:12 T3
6.B.HANCIAUX NISSAN 05:26:01 T3
7.K.KOLBERG MITSUBISHI Pajero 05:35:28 T1
8.T. ASAGA TOYOTA 05:38:06 T1
9.S.QUANDT MITSUBISHI Pajero 05:40:11 T1
10.B.TEN HARKEL MITSUBISHI Pajero 05:40:31 T1
12.M.PRIETO MITSUBISHI Montero 05:44:04 T2
14.H.MASUOKA MITSUBISHI Challenger 05:46:14 T2
15.C.SOUZA MITSUBISHI Strada 05:48:28 T3
18.B.SABY MITSUBISHI Pajero 06:00:34 T2

 

 

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS15

1.J.P.FONTENAY / G. PICARD MITSUBISHI Pajero 61:45:32 T2
2.K.SHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE MITSUBISHI Pajero +02:00:19 T2
3.B. SABY / D. SERIEYS MITSUBISHI Pajero +02:09:27 T2
4.H.MASUOKA / A. SCHULZ MITSUBISHI Challenger +06:05:39 T2
5.J.L. SCHLESSER / A.C. PAUWELS BUGGY Original +08:19:28 T3
6.P.ALLIOT / J. DUBOIS NISSAN +11:31:14 T3
7.D.HOUSIEAUX / M. DOMINELLA NISSAN +13:07:59 T3
8.T.DE LAVERGNE / L. ARGUELLES NISSAN +13:40:41 T3
9.M.PRIETO / F. GIL MITSUBISHI Montero +17:04:47 T2
10.R.VILA ALTIMIR/E. GONZALES CARPI MITSUBISHI Montero +23:08:02 T1
11.B.TEN HARKEL / H. DEN TOOM MITSUBISHI Pajero +23:10:13 T1
12.B.HANCIAUX / J. LURQUIN NISSAN +23:18:39 T3
13.S.QUANDT / P. TIEFFENBACH MITSUBISHI Pajero +23:27:58 T1
14.J.P.STRUGO / B. CATARELLI MITSUBISHI Pajero +23:59:09 T1
15.B. ANQUETIL / J. MORIZE NISSAN +26:36:35 T3
16.K.KOLBERG / P. LARROQUE MITSUBISHI Pajero +26:51:51 T1
17.C. SOUZA / P. REY MITSUBISHI Strada +28:42:06 T3


Tomorrow, Saturday, January 17, 1998
LEG 16 : BOUTILIMIT - SAINT LOUIS
Distance: 422 KM
Special Stage: 166 KM / 147 KM


The final marathon leg of the rally, and the last chance for serious competition, tomorrow's leg, in reality, marks the end of this year's Paris-Dakar. The stage is in two parts, crossing the border from Mauritania to Senegal, and from there the remaining competitors will head for the Atlantic coast and the beach at Saint Louis by the Langue de Barabrie peninsula.


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


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Copyright 1998 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.