20th PARIS-GRANADA-DAKAR RALLY
A HAPPY NEW YEAR START FOR MITSUBISHI
Mitsubishi Motors enjoyed a fantastic start to the New Year, reaping the first four places on the first 938 km leg of the gruelling Paris-Granada-Dakar cross country rally. Driving the Team PIAA Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero, French pair Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys were fastest on the muddy opening stage at La Chatre, cheered on by 68,000 spectators who braved torrential rain to watch the leading Mitsubishis make short work of the muddy conditions.
In the Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Pajero, last year's winners Kenjiro Shinozuka and Henri Magne were second after the first day, followed by Jean-Pierre Fontenay in the Team Off Road Express Mitsubishi Ralliart Pajero. Hiroshi Masuoka and Andreas Schulz were fourth in the Team Mitsubishi Oil Ralliart Challenger/Montero Sport.
Thick, slimy mud made the going extremely difficult for all 349 competitors, including 173 motorbikes, 115 cars and 61 trucks. Indeed, the track became so muddy that the stage was halted after competitor number 273, with the remaining contestants being allocated a time for the section by the organisers. The Mitsubishi drivers praised the efficient four-wheel drive system on the Pajeros and Challenger/Montero Sport for getting them through the horrendous conditions.
There were also impressive performances from many of the privateers running under the Team Mitsubishi International banner, including an excellent seventh from Spaniards Prieto and Gil, and Portuguese driver Souza, partnered by French co-driver Philippe Rey, who was 10th. The T1 category for near-standard cars was also won by Mitsubishi, with Italians Andretta and Simoni taking the honours in their Pajero, also finishing an excellent 14th overall.
The rest of the 938 km route down through France to Narbonne was completed without incident after starting off from the Chateau de Versailles this morning, and passing through a passage control at the Place du Trocadero in Paris, where an estimated 10,000 spectators were present to cheer the adventurers on their way.
Arriving at the historical city of Narbonne around 5:00 pm, the competitors will rest for the night in the ancient Gaul capital in preparation for the next leg which will take them to Spain and from there on to Africa.
SS1 - PARIS - NARBONNE - 11 KM
MITSUBISHI OIL-PIAA-OFF ROAD EXPRESS-MICHELIN-HALF TIME/JT CORPORATION
Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.