Kenjiro Shinozuka puts Nissan in the lead. Since Monday, a sort of effervescence has overtaken the Nissan Rally Raid Team... The whole Nissan "family" met up at the Nissan Cap Janet dealership in Marseille, where the team presentation took place.
Kenjiro Shinozuka puts Nissan in the lead.
Since Monday, a sort of effervescence has overtaken the Nissan Rally Raid Team... The whole Nissan "family" met up at the Nissan Cap Janet dealership in Marseille, where the team presentation took place. As well as the five official Pickup vehicles and the backup trucks and cars, the six Terrano cars prepared by Andr? Dessoude for various private teams were also present. For the start of this 25th edition of the Dakar, Mr Kenichi Sasaki, President of Nismo, and Mr Kozo Watanabe made the journey from Japan especially to encourage the whole team.
Everyone took the opportunity to see the New Year in, before getting down to the serious work, which began on Wednesday, in Marseille. The prologue took place after dark, on the circuit laid down in the Chanot Park, running on two parallel tracks.
This prologue proved a perfect opportunity for the Nissan Rally Raid Team to get off to a good start, with Kenjiro Shinozuka setting the best time, putting Nissan in the lead of the rally. Ari Vatanen set the 10th fastest time, just ahead of Giniel de Villiers. Thierry de Lavergne and Khalifa Al Mutaiwei finished in 24th and 25th places respectively.
Shinozuka, delighted with his performance, admitted that he had been rather careful : " The special stage was short, but it was a good way to start the rally. I am pleased with this first place, but I must say that I was very careful over the jumps, and I was also following Masuoka's performance, out of the corner of my eye !!!"
Ari Vatanen also appears to have dived right into the event : " This is pure pleasure for me ! I am very pleased that the event has started at long last ... I am back in my element.... I was very careful during this short stage, especially over the bumps. The Dakar is far from over, and it is important to take care of the car..."
Taking part in the event for the first time, Giniel de Villiers is also very much aware of the length of this epic race : " The special stage was not particularly thrilling. Jumps and more jumps. I am pleased it is over. We have got underway, which is the main thing; the race will be far from restful. It will be important to keep the wear on the vehicle to a minimum."
After the special stage, the competitors continued with a liaison stage towards Narbonne, with two checkpoints : one at Salon-de-Provence and the other in N?mes.