LEG 6 : GAO (MALI) - MENAKA (MALI)
Distance : 340KM
Stage distance : 332KM
Thursday, January 9,1997
Mitsubishis now fill the top four positions in the prestigious Dakar Rally which reached Menaka in Mali today, with Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka and his French Navigator moving back into the lead in the Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero. Portuguese driver Carlos Souza, partnered by Philippe Rey, remained in control of the T1 category for near standard machines in their Mitsubishi Pajero, while French pair Jean-Pierre Strugo and Bruno Cattarelli continued to impress in eighth place overall, leading the T3/1 class in their Mitsubishi Pajero.
MITSUBISHIS FILL TOP FOUR PLACES AND LEAD T1 IN DAKAR RALLY
During another oppressively hot and dusty day through the Sahel, Shinozuka snatched the lead from team mates Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys from France, who dropped to third in their Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero after losing time with a puncture. French pair Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Bruno Musmarra moved from third overnight at Gao to second after another good run in their Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero. Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka and his German partner Andreas Schulz jumped from fifth to fourth in their Team Car Plaza Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger after former World Sports Car driver Jean-Louis Schlesser rolled his buggy out of the event just three kilometres from the start when a tyre came off a rear wheel.
Ullrich Brehmer, Team Manager for the leading trio of Mitsubishi Pajeros commented: "I am very pleased with our progress. The cars are very reliable, and the drivers are driving to plan and our Michelin tyres are good. Make no mistake, they are competing with each other and fighting for the lead, but they are being very sensible and careful because they know there is a long way to go."
Portuguese Carlos Souza and Philippe Rey had another excellent day with no problems in their Pajero. Rey said their strategy was working well, explaining: "For the first week we are going very slowly and carefully to just look and see what the car is like, what the route is like, and how our competition is going. This is also the first time Carlos and I have competed together, so it was important to see how we work together - it's going well; we think and work the same way so the partnership is good. We are careful not to allow the car to suffer any shocks and be gentle until we get to Agades, and then, if we need to go fast to win, we will do it after Agades. But it is going better than expected: even with this strategy we are leading T1 and the we have had absolutely no mechanical problems with the Pajero - it is very reliable. I think we need a better leading margin, but we will do that later in the rally - it is a very long event and I think it will get very difficult next week. We don't take any risks and we will be very prudent." Very few of the Mitsubishis taking part have had any problems. Brazilian pair Klever Kolberg and Joao Mesquita were still going well after their roll on the way to Timbuktu, in 62nd place at Gao in their Pajero, while all-girl Japanese crew Makiko Tomokawa and Akemi Asada were holding 88th and still enjoying their run so far in their T1 Pajero. However, Belgians Bernard Dhont and Jean-Claude Kaket revealed that they had only rear-wheel drive on their Pajero after co-driver Kaket changed the front differential. He explained: "I decided to change the differential but I forgot to keep some important parts to put them back on, so now we have no front drive until at least Agadez." 102 cars and trucks started for Gao this morning, aiming for Menaka.
In a surprise move, Rally Director Hubert Auriol shortened today's leg, the sixth of the event, which was supposed to take the competitors into Niger. However, he conceded that the opening four legs had been extremely tough and the competitors needed another short day to recover; the leading cars would not have reached Tahoua, the original destination across the border with Mali, until near midnight. Instead, they finished the competitive section at Menaka as planned but will camp there overnight and continue to Tahoua tomorrow morning. The route between Menaka and Tahoua, originally today's liaison section, will be run competitively and leg eight, due to be run on Saturday, January 11, has been cancelled to bring the rally back to schedule. The planned seventh leg, which will now run on Saturday, will not now finish at the Uranium mining town of Arlit, rather the competitors will continue from Arlit on a liaison section straight to Agades.
The change came as a welcome respite for the exhausted competitors, especially those running closer to the back of the field who would not have reached Tahoua until early tomorrow morning. T3/1 leader Strugo, who drives a Pajero, said: "I think the changes are very good. It will make it easier although I have had no problems for the past two days and I am happy anyway."
Both Mitsubishi trucks were still going well at Gao and were expected to reach Menaka in good shape. Gilbert Versino in the lead Mitsubishi truck said: "The route change is good for us because we will get a good rest in Menaka. The trucks are still running very well."
SS /EC GAO - MENAKA 332KM
1 - K. SHINOZUKA MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2 03:14:35 2 - JP FONTENAY MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2 03:43:29 3 - B. SABY MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2Å@Å@ 03:19:00 4 - J. KLEINSCHMIDT SCHLESSER ORIG T32 03:31:46 5 - H. MASUOKA MITSUBISHI CHALLENGER/MONTERO SPORT T2 03:34:03 6 - P. SIRIWATANAKUN MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2 03:46:08 7 - M. TRAGLIO NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 03:47:41 8 - S. SERVIA NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 03:47:42 9 - D. HOUSIEAUX NISSANÅ@Å@ T31 03:48:40 10 - E. ARGAZZI NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 03:49:13
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION after SS6 / CLASSEMENT GENERAL après EC6
1 - K. SHINOZUKA / H. MAGNE (J/FR) MITSUBISHI PAJERO T2 27:12:56 2 - JP. FONTENAY / B. MUSMARRA (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2Å@Å@ +00:02:30 3 - B. SABY / D. SERIEYS (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2 +00:04:16 4 - H. MASUOKA / A. SCHULZ (J/D) MITSUBISHI CALLENGER/MONTERO SPORTÅ@Å@ T2Å@Å@ +01:25:23 5 - S. SERVIA / G. PICARD (SP/FR) NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 +02:53:52 6 - M. TRAGLIO / M. DOMINELLA (I) NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 +03:31:22 7 - J. KLEINSCHMIDT / J. BOUTAIRE (D/FR) SCHLESSER ORIGÅ@Å@ T32 +03:38:52 8 - JP STRUGO / B. CATARELLI (FR) MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T31 +03:43:53 9 - P. SIRIWATANAKUN / T. SUVANARAT MITSUBISHI PAJEROÅ@Å@ T2 +04:23:53 10- E. ARGAZZI / R. ARGAZZI (I) NISSANÅ@Å@ T2 +04:39:43
Tomorrow, Friday, January 10, 1997
Leg 7: Menaka (Mali) - Tahoua (Niger)
Distance: 396 km
Special Stage: 396 km
The second part of today's sixth leg will run tomorrow as leg seven with the original liaison section being run competitively. This section was originally planned as a competitive section before being designated as liaison so should not pose any major problems for the competitors in that respect.
Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.