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PARIS - GRANADA - DAKAR 1998
Communique 19
LEG 17 : SAINT LOUIS - DAKAR
Distance : 265 KM
Stage distance : 18 KM


DAKAR, SENEGAL
Sunday, January 18, 1998


FONTENAY TAKES FIRST DAKAR WIN
AS MITSUBISHI ENJOYS A 1-2-3-4 VICTORY


Jean-Pierre Fontenay and his new navigator Gilles Picard took their first ever win on the gruelling Paris-Dakar Rally today, January 18, when the French crew crossed the finish line at Dakar's Pink Lake in their Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, leading home the second dominant Mitsubishi 1-2-3-4 victory in two years.

It was a poignant moment for Fontenay, who earlier this year suffered the loss of his long-term navigator and motor sport partner, Bruno Musmarra. Tears streaming down his face, he dedicated his victory to the memory of his friend with whom he had enjoyed many successes over the years in cross country rallying, but never an elusive Dakar victory.

After a short, 18 km blast along the beach and the banks of Dakar's famous Pink Lake, Fontenay and his Mitsubishi team mates crossed the finish ramp to tumultuous applause from the thousands of spectators who turned out in the searing heat and sunshine to welcome the remaining cars to the Senegalese capital.

Last year's winners, Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka and his French navigator Henri Magne were delighted to finish second in their Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero, with French pair Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys third in their Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero. Like last year, Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka and his German co-driver Andreas Schulz completed the Mitsubishi dominance of the event in fourth place in their Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger/Montero Sport.

Said Fontenay at Dakar: "A little luck is all it takes to win the Dakar once you have the best car. I am excited now we've equalled Bruno Saby's win.
I am happy he is happy I have won. He and I had a great battle, but he was unlucky - that's rallying!"

For his part, Shinozuka said: "I am very happy to have second place. I didn't expect second place. We were so far away from Saby, more than one and a half hours, and I thought third would be okay. It's was unfortunate for Saby but this is a good result for Mitsubishi. It has been quite a difficult Dakar. It was a long distance with lots of sand, some very slow stages and lots of rocks. It was interesting and enjoyable."

Disappointed to be third, but happy for his team and colleagues, Saby added: "For Jean-Pierre I wish him all the best. He has done so many Dakars and I always hoped he would win one day."

It has been one of the toughest Dakar's ever, as Masuoka explained: "This has been such a hard rally. It has been a rally where the driver and navigator have both played a big part."

Mitsubishi Team Manager Ullrich Brehmer stated: "This has been one of the hardest Dakars I can remember. It has been a hard fight, but our serious preparations paid off. We won because we never got lost and because the team functioned as one. I am very happy for Jean-Pierre personally. He has worked hard for Mitsubishi for many years. This year he drove very well, took his chance, and deserves to win."

Further down the field, Mitsubishi had even more to celebrate with Pajeros and Monteros filling the top four positions in perhaps the toughest class of all, T1 Marathon, where near standard cars are driven hard through the desert with strict rules banning the replacement of major parts. It's a class where the basic reliability of the standard vehicle counts for everything.

Dutch driver Bob Ten Harkel took the T1 crown on this occasion in his Pajero, ahead of German Sven Quant in a Pajero, and Spaniard Vila Altimir who was third in his Montero.
French man Jean-Pierre Strugo, who led the class for much of the event before bad luck dropped him to fourth in the class in his Pajero explained how tough it was when he said: "It was a very hard Dakar...in fact, in my experience the hardest and this is my 13th Dakar. I wouldn't have done it in any other car, though!"

Driving with Team Mitsubishi International, Carlos Souza, from Portugal, agreed after finishing 17th in his T3 Strada, stating: "I learned this year how hard this rally can be. at times I thought we would not finish. I have never been so tired. But even with just two-wheel drive the Mitsubishi still got us through. Incredible!"

Spaniard Miguel Prieto was delighted to reach his goal of finishing the Dakar in the top 10 in his Team Mitsubishi International Montero, running in T2. He said: "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."

For now, the biggest challenge ahead for the victorious Mitsubishi team and the other survivors in this year's epic and dramatic 20th Paris-Dakar is tonight's celebrations in the Senegalese capital which are sure to go on late into the night.

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION at DAKAR - Sunday, January 18, 1998

1.J.P.FONTENAY / G. PICARD MITSUBISHI Pajero 65:25:58 T2
2.K.SHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE MITSUBISHI Pajero +01:45:44 T2
3.B. SABY / D. SERIEYS MITSUBISHI Pajero +01:59:01 T2
4.H.MASUOKA / A. SCHULZ MITSUBISHI Challenger +05:55:27 T2
5.J.L. SCHLESSER / A.C. PAUWELS BUGGY Original +08:10:39 T3
6.P.ALLIOT / J. DUBOIS NISSAN +11:39:43 T3
7.D.HOUSIEAUX / M. DOMINELLA NISSAN +13:20:24 T3
8.T.DE LAVERGNE / L. ARGUELLES NISSAN +13:52:15 T3
9.M.PRIETO / F. GIL MITSUBISHI Montero +17:42:50 T2
10.B.TEN HARKEL / H. DEN TOOM MITSUBISHI Pajero +23:28:05 T1
11.S.QUANDT / P. TIEFFENBACH MITSUBISHI Pajero +23:55:26 T1
12.R.VILA ALTIMIR/E. GONZALES CARPI MITSUBISHI Montero +23:56:12 T1
13.J.P.STRUGO / B. CATARELLI MITSUBISHI Pajero +24:32:28 T1
14.B. ANQUETIL / J. MORIZE NISSAN +27:22:17 T3
15.G. SARRAZIN / T. FUJISAWA TOYOTA +27:26:25 T1
16.K.KOLBERG / P. LARROQUE MITSUBISHI Pajero +27:29:28 T1
17.C.SOUZA / P. REY MITSUBISHI Strada +29:08:27 T3
18.T.ASAGA / H. ITO TOYOTA +29:28:50 T1
19.S. SERVIA / W. ALCARAZ NISSAN +30:13:31 T2




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Copyright 1998 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.