COMMUNIQUE 6 - 2004 FIA PRODUCTION CAR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 7
14 November 2004 Leg 3 Release

NUTAHARA ON THE PWRC PODIUM FOR MITSUBISHI
Xavier Pons sixth overall in Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Niall McShea claims world title for Britain

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Xavier Pons / Oriol Julià
(Leg 3 - 14 November 2004)

Fumio Nutahara, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, finished Rally Australia, the final round of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship, on the podium in third position. Fellow Lancer Evolution driver Xavier Pons also had a memorable event, the Spaniard claiming sixth position overall in Mitsubishi’s Group N machinery. And, in the fight for the world title, Niall McShea claimed his first-ever victory after a dramatic day of competition.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Ed Ordynski / Iain Stewart
(Leg 3 - 14 November 2004)
Today’s final leg took in another six stages and included some of the most famous action of the year. Rollercoaster jumps greeted the crews in the Sotico plantation, formerly known as Bunnings, and the action was fast and furious in an event where less than half of the original 62 starters finished. It was also possibly one of the most grueling legs, as blistering sunshine, clouds of dust and long stages took their toll on weary crews and stressed machinery.

It was a memorable rally for Fumio Nutahara, who finished third of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship contenders in his Lancer Evolution. During the four-day event the Japanese driver also claimed PWRC stage victories in each of the five super special stages (two shared) at Gloucester Park in the heart of Perth.

"For me the important thing was to gain experience, because this is a very difficult rally", said Nutahara at the finish. "I am really pleased with this result and our car has been very good".

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Xavier Pons was one of the stars of Rally Australia, finishing sixth overall on his first attempt at this notoriously demanding event. The Spaniard is a regular Production Car contender, however had elected to drop this round from his season score, thereby not qualifying him for PWRC points in Australia. He nevertheless collected full World Championship points in the final round of the 2004 series.

Pons has made dramatic progress in recent months and adapted swiftly to another new rally, one of the most testing in the championship. He was the highest-placed Lancer Evolution driver, putting up a strong performance against local experts with far more knowledge of the terrain.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Fumio Nutahara / Satoshi Hayashi
(Leg 3 - 14 November 2004)
"I am very happy with this result", he said. "I never thought I could be second in Group N here and to be sixth overall as well - my best result in the World Rally Championship - is amazing. We have learned a lot, the car has been completely reliable and I hope we can come back next year. The experience of these difficult stages has been very good".

The Lancer Evolution is an ideal car for stars of the future and one of the most notable performances came from San Marino driver Mirco Baldacci. He put in a sparkling drive on his first attempt at the rally, a change of tires for the final leg enabling him to rocket to 10th place, finishing just ahead of Australia’s Lancer Evolution expert Ed Ordynski, the most successful Group N driver in the rally’s history.

It was an unlucky end to an impressive season in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship for Jani Paasonen. The Finnish OMV World Rally Team driver, who had been fighting for the world title, was excluded at the end of the second leg after going over the permitted time making repairs to his Lancer Evolution after hitting a rock and damaging the suspension.

Despite not claiming the title, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution drivers have been the class of the field in this year’s FIA Production Car World Rally Championship. Lancer Evolution crews have won six of the seven rounds, courtesy of Paasonen, Stohl, Pons and Solà, and Rally Australia is the only event where a victory has not been secured. Paasonen finished highest of the Lancer Evolution drivers, third overall in the series.

FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Sébastien Loeb M / Daniel Elena F/MC  Citroën Xsara WRC A/8 3.39.46.8   
 Harri Rovanperä M / Risto Pietiläinen FIN  Peugeot 307 WRC A/8 3.41.41.9  + 1.55.1 
 François Duval M / Stéphane Prevot B  Ford Focus RS WRC 04 A/8 3.43.27.0  + 3.40.2 
 Mikko Hirvonen M / Jarmo Lehtinen FIN  Subaru Impreza WRC 04 A/8 3.45.47.2  + 6.00.4 
 Chris Atkinson / Glenn Macneall AUS  Subaru Impreza N/4 3.56.42.4  + 16.55.6 
 Xavier Pons / Oriol Julià E  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 3.57.22.9  + 17.36.1 
 Cody Crocker / Greg Foletta AUS  Subaru Impreza N/4 3.57.30.1  + 17.43.3 
 Toshihiro Arai P / Tony Sircombe J/NZ  Subaru Impreza N/4 3.59.19.1  + 19.32.3 
 Niall McShea P / Michael Orr IRL/GB  Subaru Impreza N/4 3.59.42.5  + 19.55.7 
10   Mirco Baldacci / Giovanni Bernacchini RSM/I  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 4.02.43.1  + 22.56.3 
11   Ed Ordynski / Iain Stewart AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 4.03.02.6  + 23.15.8 
12   Fumio Nutahara P / Satoshi Hayashi J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 4.06.17.8  + 26.31.0 
13   Nasser-S. Al-Attiyah P / Chris Patterson QA/GB  Subaru Impreza N/4 4.09.49.3  + 30.02.5 
14   Antony Warmbold / Gemma Price D/GB  Ford Focus RS WRC 02 A/8 4.14.05.9  + 34.19.1 
15   Norihiko Katsuta / Mitsuhiro Yamamoto J  Subaru Impreza N/4 4.16.28.1  + 36.41.3 
16   Sebastian Vollak P / Michael Kölbach D  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 4.16.37.2  + 36.50.4 
17   David Hills / David Callaghan AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 4.20.25.1  + 40.38.3 
18   Jim Marden / Stuart Percival AUS  Subaru Impreza N/4 4.21.20.3  + 41.33.5 
19   Fabio Frisiero P / Giovanni Agnese I  Subaru Impreza N/4 4.22.17.0  + 42.30.2 
20   Tolley Challis / Gray Marshall AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 4.32.41.5  + 52.54.7 
21   Ryo Funaki / Paul Flintoff J/AUS  Subaru Impreza N/4 4.38.52.4  + 59.05.6 
22   Robert Whyatt / Mike Dale AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 4.40.59.7  + 1.01.12.9 
.../...
25   Michael Civil / Lee Tierney AUS  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 4.52.22.6  + 1.12.35.8 
Nationalities: AUS=Australia/ B=Belgium/ D=Germany/ E=Spain/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ I=Italy/ IRL=Ireland/ J=Japan/ MC=Monte Carlo/ NZ=New Zealand/ QA=Qatar/ RSM=San Marino/
Names underlined followed by M indicate drivers nominated in the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers
Names underlined followed by P indicate drivers eligible for FIA Production Car World Rally Championship points