2003 WRC

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22 June 2003 LEG 3 - Lemessos - Lemessos (305.30 km) Special Stages 13 - 18 (82.86 km)
Cyprus Rally - 2003 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 7
2003 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship / Round 4

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
M. Ligato / R. Garcia
(Leg 3 - 22 June 2003)

Argentinean Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Marcos Ligato finished the Cyprus Rally, the fourth round of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship, in fourth position this afternoon. Such was the demanding nature of this year’s event, only 17 of the original 51 starters survived the most gruelling European rally in recent history, and just six of these were competing in near standard Group N specification machinery in the Production Car Championship. Toshihiro Arai, Japan’s rising star, claimed his third consecutive victory and continues to lead the Championship in the Subaru Impreza.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
C. Timotheu / A. Christodoulides
(Leg 3 - 22 June 2003)

Today’s leg was the shortest of this year’s rally and the closing six stages took the crews to the northeast of the island rally’s base in Limassol for two loops of three stages. Although the stages were a little quicker in places, they offered no respite for weary cars and crews; at first they were dusty, hot and rough, but a thunderstorm just before the finish made the penultimate test treacherously slippery in places. It proved a real sting in the tail to one of the toughest World Championship rallies of the last 10 years.

Mitsubishi drivers have battled hard throughout. In the opening leg, reigning Junior World Rally Champion Daniel Solà and Northern Ireland’s Niall McShea shone, the pair running as high as second and third respectively in the Production Car Championship until being forced onto the sidelines. Mitsubishi stalwart Rámon Ferreyros also hit problems early on, the Peruvian and Mexican partner Javier Marin also adding their names to the list of retirees when they damaged the suspension and lost all braking power in the opening leg.

Marcos Ligato has however upheld Mitsubishi honours and was the star of the Production Car crews during yesterday’s second leg when he set seven of the eight fastest stage times in his Lancer Evolution. Considering no fewer than nine of the leading World Rally Championship contenders were forced onto the sidelines during the leg, Ligato’s achievement is all the more impressive and demonstrates the on-going durability and reliability of the Lancer Evolution.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
B. Colsoul / T. Colsoul
(Leg 3 - 22 June 2003)

The Argentinean is however unlikely to forget a rally that tested his skill and resolve to the full. He survived hitting a tree in the second leg and damaging the front suspension on a rock on the first stage today, but made repairs himself and managed to battle home in an impressive fourth place.

"It has been really tough all through the rally, very hard work, but the car has kept going and I think our result shows you should never give up", said Marcos. "After the first day I never thought we could get such a good result so it just goes to show."

Belgian driver Bob Colsoul took a good fifth place in the Production Car World Rally Championship classification in his Lancer Evolution, shrewdly gauging the pace in such exacting conditions.

"We’ve had one puncture, but that’s not really a problem", said Colsoul. "We were driving at about 50-60 per cent all the way, but that’s what you have to do on a rally as hard as this. I’m just so pleased to finish, and get points!"

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Y. Hartoupalos / M. Constandinou
(Leg 3 - 22 June 2003)

Sixth, and the last points-scorer in the Production Car World Rally Championship, was Riccardo Errani, in similar machinery.

One of the starring performances came from Charalambos Timotheou, who was the top local driver and fifth in Group N in his Lancer Evolution. As the Cypriot is not registered for the Championship he fails to score points, but it is nevertheless a solid performance amid world-class competition.

"I feel really happy. It has been a very good rally for us and it shows the car is very strong. I don’t think the rally has been harder than usual; I am a local driver, so I know the roads quite well and I think it helps", Timotheou stated.

The FIA Production Car World Rally Championship resumes in Germany next month with the ADAC Rallye Deutschland (July 23-27). This event is the latest addition to the World Rally Championship, running for the first time in 2002, and represents the first asphalt round for the Production Car contenders this year.


  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Total Time Difference
1  Toshihiro Arai* / Tony Sircombe J/NZ  Subaru Impreza  
2  Martin Rowe* / Trevor Agnew GB  Subaru Impreza + 3.43.0
3  Stig Blomqvist* / Ana Goni S/YV  Subaru Impreza + 6.16.4
4  Marcos Ligato* / Ruben Garcia RA  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution + 21.13.1
5  Charalambos Timotheu / Andreas Christodoulides CY  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution + 24.58.5
6  Bob Colsoul* / Tom Colsoul B  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution + 31.37.0
7  Yiotis Hartoupalos / Marios Constandinou CY/GB  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution + 48.17.0
8  Christos Armeftis / Sawas Laos CY  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution +
9  Riccardo Errani* / Stefano Casadio I  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution +
* Drivers eligible for FIA Production Car World Championship points
B=Belgium/ CY=Cyprus/ GB=Great Britain/ I=Italy/ J=Japan/ NZ=New Zealand/ RA=Argentina/ S=Sweden/ YV=Venezuela/


  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Total Time Difference
1  Petter Solberg / Phil Mills N/GB  Subaru Impreza WRC  
2  Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen FIN  Peugeot 206 WRC +  4.14.0
3  Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena F/MC  Citroën Xsara WRC +  4.16.8
4  Colin McRae / Derek Ringer GB  Citroën Xsara WRC +  4.45.3
5  Carlos Sainz / Marc Marti E  Citroën Xsara WRC +  5.42.2
6  Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen FIN  Ford Focus WRC +  8.58.7
7  Armin Schwarz / Manfred Hiemer D  Hyundai Accent WRC +  13.29.0
8  Alistair Ginley / Rory Kennedy GB/IRL  Ford Focus WRC +  23.57.3
D=Germany/ E=Spain/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ IRL=Ireland/ MC=Monte Carlo/ N=Norway/