PARIS - GRANADA - DAKAR 1998
LEG 9 : EL MREITI - TAOUDENNI
Distance : 478 KM
Stage distance : 478 KM
Friday, January 9, 1998
MITSUBISHIS HOLD FIRST FOUR PLACES AS RALLY
marathon section of the 20th Paris-Dakar, which started
yesterday, has taken a terrible toll as the remaining 35
cars ploughed on through howling desert sand storms and
thousands of steep dunes on today's leg from Mauritania
to Mali. However, the leading trio of Mitsubishi Pajeros
have emerged from Leg 9 triumphant, and Japanese driver
Hiroshi Masuoka scored the fastest time in his Team
Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger/Montero Sport to move
into third place, making it a Mitsubishi 1-2-3-4.
French pair Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Gilles Picard remain
at the top of the leader board in their Team Off Road
Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, with fellow
countrymen Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys second in
their Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero. With Masuoka and his German co-driver Andreas
Schulz now in third place, Japanese ace Kenjiro
Shinozuka, navigated by Frenchman Henri Magne, are now in
fourth to complete Mitsubishi's total domination of the
event so far.
If yesterday's leg had been one of the toughest yet seen
on a Paris-Dakar rally, then today's section was in a
different league. Although temperatures are soaring into
the high twenties in degrees Celsius, the strong winter
winds that afflict the Sahara at this time of the year
are blowing great sand storms which make the going
extremely difficult. Endless rows of sand dunes caused
many competitors to get stuck again today leaving crews
exhausted as they reached Taoudenni, and punctures slowed
Although the leading Mitsubishi's managed to see off
their competition, they too suffered many delays.
Realising the stage would be extremely hazardous, they
ran close together to offer support in a true team
spirit. Even though he won the stage, Masuoka spent 30
minutes stuck in the sand, and both Saby and Fontenay
suffered punctures, and all were worried about
tomorrow's stage after using up many spare wheels.
Saby explained: "We all had many punctures today in
the Mitsubishi team. Now the real rally raid has started!
We all had to support each other today, but the big worry
is that we have to wait until late tonight for the trucks
to arrive to see how many spare tyres we will have for
tomorrow. We may be short, so we will have to be
All cars carry only two spares, and Fontenay thought his
rally was finished when he suffered a third puncture
during today's leg between the second and third check
points. However, Shinozuka came to his rescue and gave
the Frenchman one of his spares so he could continue.
Exhausted after today's efforts, Shinozuka said:
"The sand was some of the softest I have ever seen
in the Sahara. For an old man like me, so much digging is
very hard! Dakar seems a long way away!"
Good news for the Spanish pair of Ramon Vila Altimir and
Enric Gonzales Carpi they took yesterday the lead of the
T1 category - the standard car class - with
the Mitsubishi Montero n° 246.
Mitsubishi's rivals have been extremely unfortunate. The
challenge to Mitsubishi's dominance that emerged
yesterday from Jutta Kleinschmidt's buggy faded almost as
quickly as it appeared when the German woman stopped only
44 km into the stage with mechanical problems.
Although just 35 cars made the start on time this
morning, those still making their way through yesterday's
stage were given 26 hours "time allowance", and
97 cars and 14 trucks are therefore officially still in
TAOUDENNI - 478 KM
CLASSIFICATION after SS9
/ G. PICARD
|2.B. SABY / D.
MASUOKA / A. SCHULZ
|5.J.L.SCHLESSER / A.C.
|6.P. ALLIOT / J. DUBOIS
|7.T. DE LAVERGNE / L.
|8.D. HOUSIEAUX / M.
Tomorrow, Saturday, January 10, 1998
LEG 10: TAOUDENNI - GAO
Distance: 918 KM
Special Stage: 806 KM
Tomorrow's stage will be the last part of this week's
marathon section, much to the relief of the remaining
competitors as they look forward to their rest day at Gao
- the halfway point of the event. However, the long 806
km stage they face tomorrow will be quite a hurdle, as
they will be attempting to cover a route across the
desert floor that takes the local camel trains 40 days,
in just a few hours! It will be the longest competitive
section in the rally, but the organisers promise it will
not be as hard as the previous two days.
MITSUBISHI OIL-PIAA-OFF ROAD EXPRESS-MICHELIN-HALF