Shinozuka's early Dakar honours

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The Independent Online

Japan's Kenjiro Shinozuka powered his Nissan car to first place in a prologue stage yesterday on the opening day of the 26th Dakar rally.

Shinozuka, who won last year's prologue in Marseilles before being badly injured later in the race, dominated the field as competitors encountered a bumpy 1.5km dirt track in Clermont-Ferrand, in France's central Auvergne region.

The prologue was the opening stage in the gruelling event, which spans seven countries and a total of 11,090km (6,920 miles). It ends on 18 January in the Senegalese capital of Dakar. The race features 607 vehicles - the highest turn-out since 1990 - and includes 146 cars, 200 motorbikes, 65 trucks and many assistance vehicles.

Shinozuka clocked a time of 1min 41sec, with South Africa's Giniel De Villiers, also of Nissan, 0.53 seconds behind. Britain's Colin McRae, the 1995 world rally champion, marked his Dakar debut with 25th place in a Nissan.

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