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20th PARIS-GRANADA-DAKAR RALLY
1-18 January 1998


-- MITSUBISHI AIMS FOR REPEAT VICTORY IN DAKAR ! --

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, the legendary participant in the most famous cross- country rally event in the world, is aiming for a repeat of last year's dominance of the "Dakar" Rally in 1998. In the 1997 event, Mitsubishi took the top four places overall.

The event, which starts from Paris on New Year's day, returns to its traditional format of the Paris-Dakar, and Team Mitsubishi Ralliart is sending its top crews in high-performance Mitsubishi Pajeros and Challenger.

Last year's victor, and the first Japanese driver ever to win the event, Kenjiro Shinozuka, returns along with faithful French navigator Henri Magne in the Pajero of Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart. Challenging the event once again is Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys of Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart, a legend in cross-country rallying, and Jean Pierre Fontenay, co-driven by Gilles Picard, in the Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart. This formidable trio will drive the latest Mitsubishi Pajero running in the T2 category for Improved Cross Country Cars. Leading this team will be Team Director Ullrich Brehmer, who will take control of the pre-event preparation as well as run the vehicles in the event.

The top three Mitsubishi crews will have further support from the leading Ralliart International runner, Japanese ace Hiroshi Masuoka, with German Andreas Schulz, who so impressed with his superb fourth place last year in the Mitsubishi Challenger of Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart.

Entrants from around the world, from countries such as Spain, Italy, France, Brazil, Belgium, Portugal, Japan, and South Africa who have chosen to run Mitsubishis, the majority running in the T1 category for Mass Production Cross Country cars, which Mitsubishi has a reputation for dominating, will be running under the Team Ralliart International banner.

All the Mitsubishi entrants will be supported by a vast array of back-up vehicles manned by a large number of engineers, mechanics and technicians. Included in this team are the Mitsubishi Fuso Trucks "Super Great FR415 4WD-RS", trucks driven by top competitors Gilbert Versino and Christophe Granjon. These impressive four-wheel drive turbo diesel machines weighing in at around 14 tonnes each will make an amazing sight as they power their way through the African desert! Team Director Karl Ille will be handling the difficult chore of keeping Challenger, Fuso and the private teams in top condition from start to finish.

They all face the toughest challenge in the history of motor sport. This will be the 20th running of the "Dakar". Each year we claim the latest event is the toughest yet, and for 1998 we repeat the claim with over 370 competing crews facing 10,245 km of the world's toughest roads from Paris to the famous rose-tinted lake near Dakar in Senegal.

With 6,388 km of competitive driving over every type of terrain from winding gravel roads in Morocco to the sand dunes and open desert floor of the Sahara, each driver, navigator and their machine will be treated to the ultimate test in stamina and durability. It will, as always, be an epic challenge to reach the finish in Dakar, never mind try to win the event!

From the start in Versailles the competitors will head for the passage control in Paris before heading down the N20 to La Chatre for the first driving test. At just 12 km, the main objective here will be to put on a show for the spectators! They will then head via Narbonne to Spain for the second special stage at Chateau Lastours, a site not visited since 1994. There is a short special stage during the third leg in Spain, and from that point onward the competitors will wave goodbye to civilised roads and the comforts of Europe for the harsh African challenge ahead.

From Nador in northern Morocco down to Er Rachidia, Ouarzazate, Smara in the Western Sahara and across the border into Mauritania and Zouerat with its iron ore workings. And then across the Sahara to El Mreiti and across another border into Mali, down to Gao and across to the almost mythical town of Timbuktu, down in the African Sahel. From this most southern point of the event the survivors will head northwest to Nema, back in Mauritania, Tidikja, Altar and Boutilmit before striking south into the welcoming arms of Senegal and the pleasantness of St. Louis and finally Dakar after 18 days of the world's toughest rally.

In Morocco the stages will be around 160 km in length, relatively short in Dakar terms, except for one longer stage of 354 km to Smara and the edge of the Sahara desert. Although the stage is not the longest of the rally, together with the arduous liaison section it forms the longest leg of the rally at over 1000 km! While the Moroccan stages will be rough and twisting in places, with punctures and possible suspension troubles the biggest worries, once into the Sahara deserts the competitors will face extreme heat during the day as they climb and descend the sand dunes that threaten to swallow their cars. This is the section that will provide the true test of man and machine as they struggle through the massive marathon sections, lasting up to three days with little outside support. The stages can be massive: 680 km from Zouerat to El Mreiti in the heart of the Sahara, and a massive 806 km from Taoudenni south to Gao. The rest day in Gao on the banks of the river Niger on January 11th will be much needed!

Indeed, it is expected that only a proportion of the events competitors will make it to Dakar and its famous Rose Lake for the final dash across the sandy beach in front of thousands of rally fans. But the question on everyone's lips is - can Mitsubishi fill the top places again with the Pajero? With the Mitsubishi team's detailed and careful preparation and experience, and going on past record, Team Mitsubishi Ralliart must be the pre-event favourites for victory in Dakar.





Mitsubishi offers international participants support

It has become a tradition of every Dakar that Mitsubishi Motors provides a support operation for its customers in the T1 (Mass-Production Cross-Country cars) and T2 (Improved Cross-Country cars) categories through Sonauto Ralliart. It will be even more extensive for the '98 version, inasmuch as several Mitsubishi importers are closely involved in the operation. These include importers from Spain, Italy, Belgium, Brazil, South Africa and Portugal. The Japanese manufacturer will put all its efforts toward scoring a victory in T2 and in T1. Two Mitsubishi trucks FR 415 4WD-RS are entered for the following crews:Versino-Gustiniani-Versino and Granjon-Benbekhti-Martineau.

Review of the troops
To support those participants, Team Mitsubishi Sonauto Ralliart is sending five trucks - three 6x6s and two 4x4s. Another 6x6 will act as a "Saint Bernard" backing up the pair of FR415 4WD-RS support trucks taking part in the event.

All told, the team will include a minimum of 100 people - management, car and truck competitors, and mechanics. This considerable force will be directed by Karl Ille.

Among the crews who will be supported by Team Mitsubishi Sonauto Ralliart, are some supported by national importers:

SpainPrieto/GilPajero T2
Perez/CampoPajero T1
South AfricaWoodrige/CarolinPajero T1
ItalyAndetta/SimoniPajero T1
PortugalSouza/ReyPajero T1
BrazilKolberg/LaroquePajero T1
BelgiumMarcy/GhaemPajero T1
JapanTomokawa/AsadaPajero T1
FranceDe Roissard/ChatinPajero T2
Strugo/CatarelliPajero T3
Bertry/CazeneuvePajero T2
Alphand/RouxPajero T3
Courage/EtiennePajero T1
Soulie/ProudhomPajero T1
Fagot/VandrommePajero T2





MITSUBISHI PAJERO WINS IN "DAKAR" CROSS-COUNTRY RALLIES

1983Paris-Dakar1st Marathon
1st Group II
1st team
1984Paris-Dakar1st Marathon
1st Group IV
1st Group II
1985Paris-Dakar1st & 2nd overall
1st Marathon
1st Group IV
1st Group II
1986Paris-Dakar1st Marathon
1st Group II
1988Paris-Dakar1st, 2nd and 3rd Group II
1989Paris-Dakar1st Group II
1st Private entry
1990Paris-Dakar1st Group II
1991Paris-Dakar2nd, 3rd and 4th overall
1992Paris-Sirte-Cape Town1st, 2nd and 3rd overall
1992Paris-Sirte-Cape Town1st, 2nd and 3rd overall
1993Paris-Dakar1st, 4th, 5th and 12th overall - 1st T2
FIA World Cup 93Manufacturers: 2nd T3 and 1st T2
Drivers: 3rd, 6th, 8th and 11th
1994Paris-Dakar-Paris4th overall - 1st T2
FIA World Cup 941st with Pajero T1
(FIA Marathon Trophy)
1995Paris-Dakar2nd, 3rd and 4th overall - 1st T2
1996Granada-Dakar3rd, 6th, 7th and 10th overall - 1st T1
1997Dakar-Agades-Dakar1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 9th in T2
1st in T3 - 1st in T1 - 7th, 8th in T4





20th PARIS-GRANADA-DAKAR RALLY
1-18 January 1998


To celebrate its twentieth anniversary the 20th Paris-Granada-Dakar 98 will set off from France again. TSO will reinstate an old tradition neglected since 1994 by starting from Versailles at dawn on 1st January 1998.

Scrutineering for the 1998 Paris-Granada-Dakar event will take place in Versailles between 29th December 1997 and 1st January 1998. Thus, just a stone's throw away from Paris all rally lovers will throng to the city of the Sun King to admire the vehicles in the Parc FermŽ (located on the "Place d'Armes") and meet the drivers.

In the early morning of the 1st January the competitors will set off for La Chatre watched by thousands of dreamy-eyed enthusiasts, the purely curious and of course party-goers who have just finished ringing in the New Year.

Around 100 kilometres after leaving Versailles, the caravan will cross Orleans, Vierzon and Chateauroux. There they will leave the "Nationale 20" to go to La Chatre where the first sporting event will take place: a special stage that will be held on the site of the future La Chatre circuit. It will be a good 10 kilometres long to give the engines free rein.

Narbonne destination of the first day and capital of Roman-occupied Gaul, was an obligatory transit point for many peoples. Today, the city's attraction and renown come from 21 centuries of historical heritage which confers on it a certain majesty added to which is an easy-going way of life. The next day, 2nd January, another special stage will be held in the grounds of the famous Chateau-Latours.

Immediately afterwards a liaison stage will take the competitors across the frontier to the south of Perpignan, at Perthuis to be exact, after which they will arrive in Granada. Granada, Andalousia and the Spanish have no equal when it comes to hospitality and entertainment, and in their company everybody will really enjoy themselves.

The next day the third special stage will take place in the Granada region in the middle of the olive trees and the arid plains at the foot of the "Sierra Nevada". This marvellous dream-like setting will be the theatre of the last special on European soil. That evening the competitors will board the ship that will transport them to Morocco.

The next day the third special stage will take place in the Granada region in the middle of the olive trees and the arid plains at the foot of the "Sierra Nevada". This marvellous dream-like setting will be the theatre of the last special on European soil. That evening the competitors will board the ship that will transport them to Morocco.

Overall during the stages on the old continent, the competitors will have covered no fewer than 2000 kilometres crossing 2 countries, France and Spain, and having their appetite whetted by 3 specials before getting into the thick of things at dawn on the 4th January on the Moroccan stages. These will last three days and their variety plus their increasing length and difficulty will provide competitors with a really good workout. Then come Mauritania, Mali, Mauritania again before reaching Senegal. Sand and more sand - that's what is on the menu of the 1998 20th Paris-Granada-Dakar rally; After 18 days' racing the arrival is programmed for 18th January in Dakar.





MICHELIN AND MITSUBISHI
A WINNING COMBINATION


The history of Michelin and Mitsubishi in motorsport is steeped in success and rallying has provided many of their victories. 1997 has already seen the two companies claim their second consecutive World Rally Championship crown thanks to Tommi Makinen; both are hoping to start the New Year with further success in the most difficult event of them all, the Paris-Dakar Rally.

This year's Dakar-Dakar saw Michelin and Mitsubishi sweep the board with an excellent 1-2-3-4, with Kenjiro Shinozuka becoming the first Japanese winner of this famous event. The Michelin-shod Mitsubishi Pajeros dominated the rally, winning almost every stage and the consistency, reliability and performance of both car and tyre were the key to that success.

Michelin is synonymous with the Dakar and for the last eleven years the French tyre company has been unbeatable on the African tracks in all three categories: cars, motorcycles and trucks. Its specially developed "desert" tyres will once again be the popular choice of the majority of the field. For example, all the leading bikes will run Michelin, with the riders relying on the company's famous "Bib-Mousse" inserts. Over the years, these devices have provided the difference between winning and losing on the rough tracks, where the almost inevitable punctures can cost hours.

For the 1998 running of the event, the 20th Paris-Dakar, Mitsubishi will once again be relying on Michelin's RA2 tyre, used so successfully this year. Produced in the size 16/78x16, this tyre was specifically designed for the T2 class car and Mitsubishi's Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Bruno Saby have played a major role in its development. Michelin has an on-going schedule of testing and development and the close association with the Mitsubishi team facilitates this work. Michelin is currently working on a new off-road tyre, a 19/80x16 4X4. However, the Paris-Dakar comes early in the tyre's development and it is likely to only be used on a few stages.

The RA2 offers all-round performance, providing traction in the dunes as well as reliability on the destructive laterite tracks, but the Mitsubishi drivers will also have on hand the 7.50x16 XZL. This tyre, from Michelin's standard off-road range, is for use on stages that are predominantly on sand.

Mitsubishi is also seeking victory in the important truck class and tyre testing has centred around Michelin's 1400x20 XZL. Two types will be available to the team, with a normal and reduced tread depth.

As well as the three "works" Mitsubishi cars, Sonauto Ralliart will also be providing technical and logistic support for a host of customers' cars. Like the official entries, these cars will also have the RA2 and XZL tyres available.

A Michelin technician will be on hand throughout the 1998 Paris-Dakar to offer advice to all teams. Transporting all the tyres and spare parts required for the Paris-Dakar is the responsibility of the teams and Mitsubishi will once again be relying on Michelin to help ensure that the all-important service vehicles reach the bivouac each evening.



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Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.