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Veteran rally driver Kenjiro Shinozuka, the first Japanese to win the Paris-Dakar Rally in January 1997, said Tuesday he will retire after the upcoming annual off-road race beginning Dec. 31.

“I just tried to complete the (Paris-Dakar) race last time but I fell, making me feel that I’m over the hill,” the 57-year-old Shinozuka said.

“It’s been 40 years since I started my career in rallying and I think it’s about time to call it a day.” Shinozuka also became the first Japanese to win the World Rallying Championship in 1991 in another highlight of his career.

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