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Dakar Rally champ Shinozuka dies at 75: media

Kenjiro Shinozuka, the first Japanese driver to win the Paris-Dakar Rally, died Monday of pancreatic cancer at the age of 75, local media reported.

Shinozuka died at a hospital in Nagano prefecture in central Japan, the Yomiuri Shimbun and Jiji Press reported.

Born in Tokyo, Shinozuka competed in Japanese rallies while working as an employee of Mitsubishi Motors, before taking part in the Paris-Dakar Rally for the first time in 1986.

After finishing third in 1987 and second in 1988, he became the first Japanese driver to win the championship in 1997.

In 1991 and 1992 he also won the Ivory Coast Rally.

In the 2003 Paris-Dakar Rally, he was seriously injured in a crash and forced to drop out.  

He continued to participate in the Paris-Dakar Rally until 2007 and took part in solar car races at his alma mater, Tokai University, after that. 

Contacted by AFP, his office was not immediately available to confirm the reports.

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