17 October 2004 Leg 3 Release

Three Lancer Evolution drivers claim top six positions in Corsica

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Xavier Pons / Oriol Julià
(Leg 3 - 17 October 2004)

Xavier Pons, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, claimed victory in the sixth round of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship, the Rallye de France - Tour de Corse, having led from start to finish. The Spaniard, who also won the PWRC event in Germany, was able to ease the pace over today’s closing stages and ultimately took victory over Niall McShea by 58.8 seconds. In the overall Group N category, fellow Spaniard and Lancer Evolution driver Daniel Sordo put in a fine performance to claim second, albeit not registered in the championship.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Xavier Pons / Oriol Julià
(Leg 3 - 17 October 2004)
The final day of competition was a familiar one for the crews who contested the event in 2002 and 2003. Another two loops of two classic long stages took the contenders to the south of Ajaccio for the closing 112.10 kilometers of competition before returning for the finish in the town at 14:30 hrs. Heavy overnight rain and thunderstorms gave way to warmer and drier conditions today, however the stages remained treacherous with numerous damp patches beneath overhanging trees.

Xavier Pons, who started the final leg with a commanding two minute 52.8 second lead over McShea, was in the enviable position of being able to preserve his Lancer Evolution and not take risks over the treacherous Corsican mountain roads. Having taken the PWRC victory in all eight stages run during legs one and two, he won none of today’s stages but still claimed an emphatic victory and maintained the Lancer Evolution’s record of winning every round of this year’s FIA Production Car World Rally Championship.

"This has been an almost perfect rally for us", said Pons, referring to a last minute scare when the gearbox got stuck in fifth 10 kilometers before the end of the final stage. "I knew we could do well after winning in Germany, but the roads here are very different and the weather has made it very difficult. The car has been fantastic and I think we have proved what we can do".

Adding to his comments, Michelin’s Aimé Chatard said: "We have made a small evolution of the Tarmac tire for production cars here and it has worked very well. As you can see, we have several drivers who are well placed. We’re delighted with the result".

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Fumio Nutahara / Satoshi Hayashi
(Leg 3 - 17 October 2004)
In only his second world series Tarmac event, Fumio Nutahara claimed fifth of the contenders in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution; a fine performance by the Japanese driver in his debut year in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship.

"I am very pleased with this result", said Fumio at the finish. "This year we are trying to learn the rallies, so I have tried to push hard, but not to make mistakes. I think this has been the right balance".

Poland’s Tomasz Kuchar and Ricardo Triviño claimed sixth and eighth respectively - the Mexican losing a place when he had to stop and change a puncture - giving Mitsubishi drivers four of the top eight positions back in Ajaccio this afternoon.

The FIA Production Car World Rally Championship now hits fever point as the crews head to the final round of the series in Australia. Despite missing the Rallye de France - Tour de Corse, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Jani Paasonen has maintained his lead in the series, but there are now three other drivers fighting for championship honors in Rally Australia (November 12-14). At the beginning of the year, Pons elected to drop the Australian event from his results, so Niall McShea, Alister McRae and Toshihiro Arai are the only other contenders in with a chance of the title. And, with just nine points separating the four crews, the battle on the slippery gravel roads around Perth, Western Australia, will be fast and furious.


  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Markko Märtin M / Michael Park EE/GB  Ford Focus RS WRC 04 A/8   
 Sébastien Loeb M / Daniel Elena F/MC  Citroën Xsara WRC A/8  + 2.02.0 
 Carlos Sainz M / Marc Marti E  Citroën Xsara WRC A/8  + 2.55.3 
 Marcus Grönholm M / Timo Rautiainen FIN  Peugeot 307 WRC A/8  + 3.29.1 
 Petter Solberg M / Phil Mills N/GB  Subaru Impreza WRC 04 A/8  + 5.06.3 
 Stéphane Sarrazin / Patrick Pivato F  Subaru Impreza WRC 03 A/8  + 7.09.1 
 Freddy Loix / Sven Smeets B  Peugeot 307 WRC A/8  + 8.21.2 
 Armin Schwarz / Manfred Hiemer D  Škoda Fabia WRC A/8  + 9.08.3 
 Toni Gardemeister / Paavo Lukander FIN  Škoda Fabia WRC A/8  + 9.35.3 
10   Mikko Hirvonen M / Jarmo Lehtinen FIN  Subaru Impreza WRC 04 A/8  + 11.58.2 
11   Daniel Carlsson / Mattias Andersson S  Peugeot 206 WRC A/8  + 18.04.0 
12   Xavier Pons P / Oriol Julià E  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 25.26.5 
13   Daniel Sordo / Carlos del Barrio E  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 26.00.2 
14   Niall McShea P / Michael Orr IRL/GB  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 26.25.3 
15   Alister McRae P / David Senior GB  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 27.08.8 
16   Mark Higgins P / Michael Gibson GB  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 30.19.3 
17   Alain Vauthier / François Ravault F  Subaru Impreza WRC 02 A/8  + 30.27.2 
18   Fumio Nutahara P / Satoshi Hayashi J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 33.23.3 
19   Tomasz Kuchar P / Jakub Gerber PL  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 33.48.8 
20   Antony Warmbold / Gemma Price D/GB  Ford Focus RS WRC 02 A/8  + 35.40.5 
21   Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila FIN  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 36.37.4 
22   Nasser-S. Al-Attiyah P / Chris Patterson QA/GB  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 37.32.8 
23   Ricardo Triviño P / Jordi Barrabès MEX/E  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 38.19.8 
24   Christian Habani / Francis Mazzotti F  Peugeot 206 RC N/3  + 45.00.6 
25   Fabio Frisiero P / Giovanni Agnese I  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 49.14.2 
27   Sebastian Vollak P / Michael Kölbach D  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 
28   Michel Branca / Gérald Forns F  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 
30   Wakujiro Kobayashi / Kohei Kusaka J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 
Nationalities: B=Belgium/ D=Germany/ E=Spain/ EE=Estonia/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ I=Italy/ IRL=Ireland/ J=Japan/ MC=Monte Carlo/ MEX=Mexico/ N=Norway/ PL=Poland/ QA=Qatar/ S=Sweden/
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