NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – One of the world’s veteran top rated motorsports driver Kenjiro Shinozuka has expressed nostalgic memories of his Safari Rally days and association with Kenya’s Simba Colt Motors Ltd.Speaking during a return visit to the company’s premises previously used by the Mitsubishi Motors Works Rally team as the local service operations base, Shinozuka, 61, Japan’s most distinguished rally driver nostalgically recalled his first Safari Rally finish in the 1976 Safari Rally.
During the courtesy call, Shinozuka who was warmly received by Simba Colt Motors Chief Executive Officer Adil Popat, described the local authorised Mitsubishi Motors dealer as a world-class entity.
“In my more than 40years service to Mitsubishi Motors as a rally driver and also as a senior officer in charge of overseas affairs, I held and still hold Simba Colt Motors in a very special place in my heart,” he said.
“I am truly proud to be associated with such an incredible indigenous Kenyan company that has in many ways surpassed the Japanese benchmark for overseas dealers clearly confirming the high degree of dedicated talent in Kenya.”
Born on November 20, 1948, in Ota Ward, Tokyo, Shinozuka was employed by Mitsubishi Motors in 1971.
Having begun his career in 1968, he became the first Japanese driver to finish the Kenyan Safari Rally in 1976. And 15 years later, he became the first Japanese to win a round of the World Rally Championship, the Ivory Coast-Bandama Rally in 1991 and 1992, when it was a round of the World Rally Championship, making him the first Japanese competitor to win a WRC event.
After a long association with Mitsubishi Team in cross-country rallies, Kenjiro Shinozuka has come to be considered a very talented and experienced driver, and an excellent tactician.
Alongside his work in advertising, sales, product planning and overseas affairs at Mitsubishi Motors, Shinozuka regularly afforded time to compete in motor rallies. He also became the first Japanese driver to win the coveted Paris-Dakar Rally in 1997.
In 2000, he was transferred to the French Branch Office of MMSE (Mitsubishi Motor Sales Europe B.V.) in order to concentrate his efforts on the Paris-Dakar Rally, as well as other cross-country events. He finished third overall in the 2002 Paris-Dakar Rally.
Behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 he won the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in 1988.