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PARIS-GRANADA-DAKAR 1998
Communique 6
LEG 5: ER RACHIDIA - OUARZAZATE
Distance:
577 KM
Special Stage:
344 KM

OUARZAZATE,
Monday, January 5, 1998

MITSUBISHI STRENGTHENS GRIP AS SHINOZUKA TAKES FIRST WIN

It was Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka's turn to win a stage today, January 5, as Mitsubishi's leading trio of Pajeros strengthened their grip at the top of the table in the 20th Paris-Dakar.

Driving the Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero, last year's winner Shinozuka moved into second place overall after today's victory on the 344 km charge along Morocco's border with Algeria, putting his Pajero's performance to the test on the alternately twisty and open semi-desert route.

Frenchman Bruno Saby, driving the Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, still holds the lead by a tiny 2m 38s seconds margin from Shinozuka, while fellow Frenchman Jean-Pierre Fontenay is just 4m 23s adrift in third place in the Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero. After yesterday's stage win, Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka held sixth at Ouarzazate in the Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger/Montero Sport, despite his time loss in Europe at the start of the event.

Blasting across semi-desert plains and twisty savannah tracks in the shadow of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, and tackling the first of this year's dunes, the Mitsubishi drivers seemed to enjoy the day's stage, especially now that the cold, rainy European stages seem a distant memory as bright sunshine and temperatures topping 20 degrees Celsius become the norm. The further south they go, the hotter it will get as they hit the Sahara Desert, and the competition is likely to heat up, too!

Shinozuka recounted the day's success, explaining: "We ran alongside Bruno Saby today, but neither of us was pushing. It is still too early for that. Although some of our opposition have had problems in the last few days we still have to drive carefully. Driving fast on the Dakar does not make you win."

Rally leader Saby added: "I didn't want to eat dust today, so we ran a little behind. So far, none of us has tried to push too hard. If Schlesser starts to challenge, then we know we have the capability to react."

Third-placed Fontenay didn't have an entirely trouble-free day, however, as he explained: "We drove in Masuoka's dust for 20 or 30 kms, but when we stopped it cleared. We had one flat tyre. The dunes were no problem for us, although I thought some of the privateers might get stuck."

The tough African terrain is already beginning to take its toll on the competitors. The expected challenger from the Protrucks has so far failed to materialise, with Pierre Lartigue returning to the start line of the stage with eye problems, while team mate Larry Ragland was reported to be stopped with mechanical problems 130 kms into the stage. The buggies driven by Jean-Louis Schlesser and Juta Kleinschmidt are still going strong and can be expected to mount a challenge later in the event. 112 cars crossed the start line this morning after two overnight retirements, while 167 motorbikes remain in the race to Dakar with four retirements reported this morning.

Amongst the privateers, Mitsubishi is still holding strong with Jean-Pierre Strugo jumping into the lead in the T1 category for standard cars in his Mitsubishi Pajero, with Bruce Garland's Izuzu dropping to second. Italian driver Andretta holds third in the category in his Mitsubishi. Portuguese competitor Carlos Souza is now up to an excellent ninth overall in his Mitsubishi, while French multiple World Ski Champion Luc Alphand is running 20th overall in his Mitsubishi Pajero.

Mitsubishi's domination of the Dakar is rounded off by the success of the two Mitsubishi FR415 4WD-RS trucks which finished first and second on yesterday's leg to Er Rachidia. Gilbert Versino's Mitsubishi truck held a healthy 14m 40s lead overnight over the similar machine driven by Granjon in a solid Mitsubishi 1-2 in the truck class.

 

SS5 - ER RACHIDIA - OUARZAZATE - 344 KM

1.K.SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI Pajero 03:32:47 T2
2.B.SABY MITSUBISHI Pajero 03:34:00 T2
3.J.L.SCHLESSER BUGGY Original 03:34:08 T3
4.J.P. FONTENAY MITSUBISHI Pajero 03:37:09 T2
5.H. MASUOKA MITSUBISHI Challenger 03:43:24 T2
6.J. KLEINSCHMIDT BUGGY Original 03:49:57 T3
7. J. SERVIA I COSTA TOYOTA 04:06:03 T2
8.P. WAMBERGUE TOYOTA 04:06:32 T2
9.P.ALLIOT NISSAN 04:18:48 T3
10.B. HANCIAUX NISSAN 04:20:08 T3
11.J.LOOMANS MITSUBISHI Pajero 04:24:10 T3
12.T. DE LAVERGNE NISSAN 04:28:57 T3
13.JP.STRUGO MITSUBISHI Pajero 04:29:24 T1

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS5

1.B. SABY / D.SERIEYS MITSUBISHI Pajero 07:34:05 T2
2.K. SHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE MITSUBISHI Pajero +00:02:38 T2
3.J.P. FONTENAY / G. PICARD MITSUBISHI Pajero +00:04:23 T2
4.J.L. SCHLESSER / A.C. PAUWELS BUGGY Original +00:12:41 T3
5.J. KLEINSCHMIDT / M. STEVENSON BUGGY Original +00:42:33 T3
6.H. MASUOKA / A. SCHULZ MITSUBISHI Challenger +00:51:24 T2
7.B. HANCIAUX / J. LURQUIN NISSAN +01:20:07 T3
8.T. DE LAVERGNE / L. ARGUELLES NISSAN +00:32:42 T3
9.C. SOUZA / P. REY MITSUBISHI Strada +01:32:25 T3
10.P. ALLIOT / J. DUBOIS NISSAN +01:32:53 T3
11.J.P. STRUGO / B. CATARELLI MITSUBISHI Pajero +01:38:52 T1
       
15.M.PRIETO / F. GIL MITSUBISHI Montero +01:46:23 T2
16.T.ANDRETTA / M. SIMONI MITSUBISHI Pajero +01:46:54 T1
20.L.ALPHAND / A. DEBRON MITSUBISHI Pajero +02:05:59 T3


Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 6, 1998
LEG 6: OUARZAZATE - SMARA
Distance: 1050 KM
Special Stage: 354 KM

The 20th Paris-Dakar will start to get even more challenging from tomorrow, as the surviving competitors strike south towards the Western Sahara after tackling a special stage through the infamous Draa Valley. This gigantic and spectacular, rocky, dry river bed will test suspensions and drivers' skills to the full!

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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