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PARIS - GRANADA - DAKAR 1998
Communique 18
LEG 16 : BOUTILIMIT - SAINT LOUIS
Distance : 422 KM
Stage distance : 166 KM / 147 KM


SAINT LOUIS
Saturday, January 17, 1998

MITSUBISHIS CLOSE TO VICTORY AS PARIS-DAKAR REACHES SAINT LOUIS


Jean-Pierre Fontenay looks all but certain to win his first Paris-Dakar in his Team Off Road
Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, after finishing the two stages of the 16th leg from Boutilimit in Mauritania to Saint Louis in Senegal with a comfortable overall lead of nearly two hours today, January 17.

Mitsubishi looks set to take the first four places, as it did last year, with Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka second in his Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero, French driver Bruno Saby third in his Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, and Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka fourth in his Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger/Montero Sport.

Anyone who thought the rally was over at Boutilimit was sadly mistaken, as the rally organisers laid on two short but tricky stages today that tested driving ability to the limit. The first stage in Mauritania was twisty on a sandy surface, with the second into Senegal running between high sand dunes and
the sea testing the skills of the navigators as they guided their drivers in unseasonably high temperatures to the old French colonial capital of Saint Louis with its mixture of shanty huts and faded imperial grandeur.

Shinozuka won the second of today's stages after Jean-Louis Schlesser plunged into the sea in his buggy after winning the first stage, only the second driver not in a Mitsubishi to do so in 17 days.

Despite being almost sure of victory, Fontenay admitted: "The rally is practically finished, but I can't relax until I've crossed the finish line tomorrow. I feel great joy at the moment."

Shinozuka, last year's winner who is lying second as the rally draws to a close, said: "I am very happy to have second place. It is a realistic result."

The unfortunate Saby, whose second half attempt to wrest the lead from Fontenay failed through bad luck a few days ago, stated: "For Jean-Pierre I wish him all the best. He has done so many Dakars. In 1993 when I won and he helped me in a long marathon stage, I remember saying I hope one day he will win too."


Masuoka, who seems eternally fated to finish fourth on this event, admitted: "This has been such a hard rally .

Also looking forward to the finish, Spaniards Prieto and Gil look certain of reaching their pre-event target of reaching Dakar in the top 10 in their Team Mitsubishi International prepared Montero. There are currently ninth at Saint Louis.

Said Prieto: "To finish in the top 10 is good. We have rolled and had a few problems, but still we were fast. As much as being ninth, it is important to be the first Spanish driver."
In T1, the class for standard cars, Mitsubishis have totally dominated the rally, holding the top five positions at Saint Louis. Dutch driver Bob Ten Harkel looks likely to win the class in his Mitsubishi Pajero from Spaniard Vila Altimir in his Mitsubishi Montero. Jean-Pierre Strugo, from France, had led the category for much of the event, but looks likely to finish fourth in his Mitsubishi Pajero.
Said Strugo on the beach at Saint Louis: "I am happy to finish, but not in this position. It was a very hard Dakar, in my experience, the hardest and this is my 13th time! I wouldn't have done it in any other car than my Mitsubishi Pajero, though!"

Carlos Souza, the Portuguese driver in the T2 Mitsubishi Pajero, agreed with Strugo, adding: "I learned this year how hard the Dakar can be. Some times I thought we would not finish. I have never been so tired, but even with two-wheel drive the Mitsubishi still got us through. Incredible!"

 

SS 16a - SAINT LOUIS - 166 KM

1.J.L. SCHLESSER BUGGY Original 01:37:36 T3
2.K.SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI Pajero 01:39:59 T2
3.B.SABY MITSUBISHI Pajero 01:40:44 T2
4.H.MASUOKA MITSUBISHI Challenger 01:44:32 T2
5.J.KLEINSCHMIDT BUGGY Original 01:44:57 T3
6.J.P.FONTENAY MITSUBISHI Pajero 01:47:14 T2
7.P. ALLIOT NISSAN 01:49:09 T3
8.C.SOUZA MITSUBISHI Strada 01:49:20 T3
9.B.HANCIAUX NISSAN 01:50:53 T3
10.D.HOUSIEAUX NISSAN 01:51:13 T3

 

SS 16b - SAINT LOUIS - 147 - KM

1.K.SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI Pajero 01:15:41 T2
2.H.MASUOKA MITSUBISHI Challenger 01:17:28 T2
3.B.SABY MITSUBISHI Pajero 01:19:03 T2
4.J.KLEINSCHMIDT BUGGY Original 01:26:06 T3
5.JP.FONTENAY MITSUBISHI Pajero 01:27:02 T2
6.T.DE LAVERGNE NISSAN 01:27:19 T3
7.P. ALLIOT NISSAN 01:27:32 T3
8.D. HOUSIEAUX NISSAN 01:29:21 T3
9.M.PLAZA PEREZ MITSUBISHI Pajero 01:31:09 T1
10.J.L.SCHLESSER BUGGY Original 01:32:05 T3

 

 

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS16

1.J.P.FONTENAY / G. PICARD MITSUBISHI Pajero 64:59:48 T2
2.K.SHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE MITSUBISHI Pajero +01:41:43 T2
3.B. SABY / D. SERIEYS MITSUBISHI Pajero +01:54:58 T2
4.H.MASUOKA / A. SCHULZ MITSUBISHI Challenger +05:53:23 T2
5.J.L. SCHLESSER / A.C. PAUWELS BUGGY Original +08:14:53 T3
6.P.ALLIOT / J. DUBOIS NISSAN +11:33:39 T3
7.D.HOUSIEAUX / M. DOMINELLA NISSAN +13:14:17 T3
8.T.DE LAVERGNE / L. ARGUELLES NISSAN +13:48:01 T3
9.M.PRIETO / F. GIL MITSUBISHI Montero +17:34:58 T2
10.B.TEN HARKEL / H. DEN TOOM MITSUBISHI Pajero +23:25:06 T1
11.R.VILA ALTIMIR/E. GONZALES CARPI MITSUBISHI Montero +23:50:17 T1
12.S.QUANDT / P. TIEFFENBACH MITSUBISHI Pajero +23:50:46 T1
13.J.P.STRUGO / B. CATARELLI MITSUBISHI Pajero +24:21:35 T1
14.B. ANQUETIL / J. MORIZE NISSAN +27:17:26 T3
15.K.KOLBERG / P. LARROQUE MITSUBISHI Pajero +27:20:37 T1
18.C.SOUZA / P. REY MITSUBISHI Strada +30:04:45 T3


Tomorrow, Sunday, January 18, 1998
LEG 17 : SAINT LOUIS - DAKAR
Distance : 265 KM
Stage distance : 18 KM


Just 18 km of competitive driving and a 247 km relaxed drive on public roads stand between the four Mitsubishis that have dominated the 20th Paris-Dakar and an almost copybook repeat of last year's historic victory. This time, the winner will be different and, barring disaster, Jean-Pierre Fontenay will lead the car field over the sandy stages around the Pink Lake near Dakar to the ceremonial finish.



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


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Copyright 1998 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.