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PARIS-GRANADA-DAKAR 1998
Communique 5
LEG 4 : NADOR - ER RACHIDIA
Distance : 613KM
Stage distance : 247KM

ER RACHIDIA,
Sunday, January 4, 1998

MITSUBISHI LEADS INTO AFRICA

Mitsubishi continues its masterful domination of the toughest rally in the world, the 20th Paris-Dakar, with three Mitsubishi Pajeros still heading the field after the first full African stage of the event through Morocco, which finished in Er Rachidia, close to the Algerian border, today, Sunday, January 4.

It was Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka, co-driven by German Andreas Schulz, who won the rock-strewn 247 km special stage today in his Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger/Montero Sport climbing up to the 16th place, although French pair Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys still hold a commanding lead overall in the Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero. Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Gilles Picard hold second overall in the Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, while last year's victors, Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka and French navigator Henry Magne, are third in the Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero.

It was undoubtedly the toughest leg so far of the rally, with a car-breaking route littered with enormous potholes and dry riverbed crossings through semi-arid rocky terrain in northern Morocco.

Rally leader Saby commented on the first day of African action: "I had two punctures today and finished the stage on a punctured tyre. That meant I had to pass the bikes twice, which also slowed me down. But I am happy still to be leading."

Stage winner Masuoka added: "I was a little surprised to be fastest, but on this stage it was not all-out power that was important. Maybe I was just better at avoiding the rocks."

Fontenay said of his new navigator: "Everything went well on our first African stage together, although it was very difficult with a dangerous, broken track at the start."

The man tipped for victory, and hovering in an excellent third, just a few minutes behind the leader, Shinozuka revealed: "It is good to be in Africa, but this stage was hard an difficult. I did not push too hard because the rally is going to be won or lost on the long stages later this week."

Even though this first stage in Africa was designed to ease the competitors into their first taste of Africa this year after three legs in the relative ease of Europe, just 329 competitors remain out of the 345 starters - even the European legs took their toll!

The two Mitsubishi FR415 4WD-RS trucks are reported to be still going strong, while Italians Andretta and Simoni are still putting in a strong challenge in the T1 category for standard vehicles finishing the day with a superb 15th place in general classification, taking second fastest today in their Mitsubishi Pajero. French pair Jean-Pierre Strugo and Bruno Catarelli were also doing well in T1, holding third in their Mitsubishi at Er Rachidia.

Spanish pair Miguel Prieto and Fernando Gil with the Mitsubishi Pajero T2 take a superb 9th place while the portugese Carlos Souza and his french co-driver Philippe Rey are 12th at the end of the day with the Mitsubishi Strada in T3 category.

 

SS4 - NADOR - ER RACHIDIA - 247 KM

1.M.MASUOKA MITSUBISHI Challenger 02.51.18 T2
2.JP. FONTENAY MITSUBISHI Pajero 02.51.24 T2
3.B.SABY MITSUBISHI Pajero 02.52.14 T2
4.K.SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI Pajero 02.53.02 T2
5.J.L. SCHLESSER BUGGY Original 02.59.42 T3
6. L.RAGLAND PROTRUCK 03.03.34 T3
7.J. KLEINSCHMIDT BUGGY Original 03.11.49 T3
8.D.HOUSIEAUX NISSAN 03.12.22 T3
9.E.ARGAZZI NISSAN 03.12.27 T3
10.T.DE LAVERGNE NISSAN 03.14.24 T3
11.J.LOOMANS MITSUBISHI Pajero 03.15.02 T3
12.B.HANCIAUX NISSAN 03.15.29 T3
13.B.GARLAND ISUZU 03.16.47 T1
14.P.ALLIOT NISSAN 03.16.56 T3
15.M.TRAGLIO NISSAN 03.17.44 T2
16.M.PRIETO MITSUBISHI Pajero 03.18.34 T2

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS4

1.B. SABY / D.SERIEYS MITSUBISHI Pajero 04.00.05 T2
2.J.P. FONTENAY / G. PICARD MITSUBISHI Pajero +00.01.14 T2
3.K. SHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE MITSUBISHI Pajero +00:03:51 T2
4.J.L. SCHLESSER / A.C. PAUWELS BUGGY Original +00.12.33 T3
5.L. RAGLAND / J. RIVIERE PROTRUCK +00:20.01 T3
6.J. KLEINSCHMIDT / M. STEVENSON BUGGY Original +00:26:36 T3
7.D. HOUSIEAUX / M. DOMINELLA NISSAN +00:31:22 T3
8.E. ARGAZZI / R. ARGAZZI NISSAN +00:32:42 T3
9.M. PRIETO / F. GIL MITSUBISHI Pajero +00:33:38 T2
10.T. DE LAVERGNE / L. ARGUELLES NISSAN +00:33:47 T3
11.B. HANCIAUX / J. LURQUIN NISSAN +00:33:59 T3
12.C. SOUZA / P. REY MITSUBISHI Strada +00:35:21 T3
13.B. GARLAND / G. GOUVIEZ ISUZU +00:36:30 T1
14.M. TRAGLIO / A. PIO NISSAN +00:38:17 T2
15.T. ANDRETTA / M. SIMONI MITSUBISHI Pajero +00:41:24 T1
16.H. MASUOKA / A. SCHULZ MITSUBISHI Challenger +00:42:00 T2
17.J.P. STRUGO / B. CATARELLI MITSUBISHI Pajero +00:43:28 T1



Tomorrow, Monday, January 5, 1998
LEG 5 : ER RACHIDIA - OUARZAZATE
Distance : 577KM
Stage distance : 344KM


After their first night under canvass in Africa, the remaining competitors in the "Dakar" will face a rigorous driving challenge tomorrow through some of Morocco's most spectacular scenery, crossing the dunes of Erg Chebbi during the first third of the route.

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

Internet : http://www.mitsubishi-motors.co.jp/motorsports/
Contacts in Paris HQ (France) Fax : + 33 1 41 71 25 28


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