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Sunday, 13 January, 2002, 15:19 GMT
Masuoka wins Dakar Rally
Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka on his way to victory
Hiroshi Masuoka led for most of the 17-day race
Click here for Final standings

Japan's Hiroshi Masuoka won his first Dakar Rally title as the 17-day race came to an end in the Senegalese capital.

Italian Fabrizio Meoni won the motorcycle category for the second successive year, finishing 47 minutes and 52 seconds ahead of South African Alfie Cox.


I will come back next year to fight it out again
Jutta Kleinschmidt
Masuoka went into the 16th and final stage with a comfortable lead and was happy to allow former race leader, Belgium's Gregoire de Mevius to take the win.

"Today I am extremely happy to have won," said Masuoka.

"It is enormously emotional for me. I am over the moon. We didn't have any big problems and we got the victory,"

Last year's winner Jutta Kleinschmidt of Germany finished second in the overall car standings after suffering drive shaft problems with her Mitsubishi in the latter stages.

"Second place isn't bad, but, of course, I would prefer to win," she said.

"I will come back next year to fight it out again at the heart of the team."

Kenjiro Shinozuka of Japan finished third.

Italy's Fabrizio Meoni  leads Joan Roma of Spain and and South African Alfie Cox
Fabrizio Meoni (right) led the bike field
Italy's Giovani Sala took the final bike stage, but it was compatriot Meoni who dominated the overall standings.

"Winning here has taken a number of years and now I have won the race twice," said Meoni.

"Last year it was a victory of the heart because it was my first time. This year it's a victory of the head.

"I had to fight with the others and the race was very difficult and tight, so it was very satisfying."

Frenchman Richard Sainct, winner in 1999 and 2000, finished third behind Cox on a KTM.

The 24th Dakar Rally began in Arras, northern France, on 28 December and covered 8,883km as it went through France, Spain and Morocco.


Final stage results:

Car:
1
G De Mevius (Bel) Nissan 18mins 24secs
2 L Bourgnon (Fra) Nissan at 2mins 26secs
3 C Sousa (Por) Mitsubishi at 2:38
4 S Al Hajri (Qat) Mitsubishi at 2:38
5 JP Fontenay (Fra) Mitsubishi at 3:02

Bike:
1
G Sala (Ita) KTM 17mins 45secs
2 PM Marques (Por) KTM at 1sec
3 I Esteve Pujol (Spa) KTM at 11secs
4 E Bernard (Fra) KTM at 12
5 PA Ullevalseter (Nor) KTM at 29


Final standings:

Car:
1
H Masuoka (Jpn) Mitsubishi 46hours 11mins 30secs
2 J Kleinschmidt (Ger) Mitsubishi at 22mins 01sec
3 K Shinozuka (Jpn) Mitsubishi at 35:15
4 JP Fontenay (Fra) Mitsubishi at 1hour 37:30
5 C Sousa (Por) Mitsubishi at 5:20:57

Bike:
1
F Meoni (Ita) KTM 48hours 0mins 59secs
2 A Cox (Rsa) KTM at 47mins 52secs
3 R Sainct (Fra) KTM at 1hour 20:25
4 C De Gavardo (Chi) KTM at 2:52:46
5 I Esteve Pujol (Spa) KTM at 2:54:34

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Race organiser Hubert Auriol
"Japanese 4x4 cars have been good for several years"
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