19 September 2004 Leg 3 Release

Ten Group N Lancer Evolutions in the top 16 in Wales Rally GB

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Gwyndaf Evans / Huw Lewis
(Leg 3 - 19 September 2004)

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Gwyndaf Evans put in a fine performance in his home round of the FIA World Rally Championship to claim second of the Group N contenders in Wales Rally GB. Peter Bijvelds, from the Netherlands, finished third and Lancer Evolution drivers claimed no fewer than 10 of the top 16 Group N positions in Cardiff this afternoon.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Peter Bijvelds / Piet Bijvelds
(Leg 3 - 19 September 2004)
With its change of date from November to September, many believed the event would end up being considerably drier and faster. However, torrential rain and fog on high ground in the opening two legs meant the gravel tracks in the forests around South Wales looked much the same as the traditional winter event of decades gone by. Despite some sunshine late yesterday afternoon, it was really only during today’s final leg that the sun shone and crews could enjoy the beauty of the Welsh forests, leaving the treacherously wet and muddy roads behind them for more dry and hard-packed gravel tracks. Despite not being a round of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship, a host of Group N contenders started Wales Rally GB, no fewer than 14 of whom chose Mitsubishi’s dominant Lancer Evolution to contest the 394.03 competitive kilometer route.

Welshman Gwyndaf Evans clinched a last minute entry into the event and it was his first rally in a modern Group N car in a decade. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver may well know his home forests like the back of his hand, however just 10 miles of testing the night before the start in a completely unfamiliar car meant the former British Rally Champion had a mighty challenge ahead. He suffered a puncture and loss of power in the opening leg but fought back on Saturday, matching the times of category victor Alister McRae, until sliding into a ditch in the ninth stage, damaging the intercooler pipe and losing more power. A steady performance today nevertheless saw him claim second position, nearly four minutes ahead of Peter Bijvelds.

"I wasn’t taking risks, but I was still learning about the car", said Gwyndaf. "It’s gone very well, especially when you think it was a bare shell a week ago. I’ve enjoyed it".

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Seisuke Ohba / Hiroko Takahashi
(Leg 3 - 19 September 2004)
Peter Bijvelds claimed third of the Group N runners in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution but he, like nearly all the crews, suffered his own dramas. Fuel pump problems saw him drop time in the opening leg and although he fought back hard in the second, his efforts proved in vain when the turbo blew in stage 13. He cruised to the finish this afternoon, nearly 18 minutes ahead of Japan’s Seisuke Ohba in another Lancer Evolution, who was happy with his performance.

"Today we have not had to attack so much and everything has been satisfactory", said Bijvelds. "I’m pleased with our result; it has been a difficult rally".

Petter Solberg claimed the overall victory in Wales Rally GB, the Norwegian snatching a last-minute win from Sébastien Loeb. The pair were in a league of their own throughout the event and Loeb led from the outset, only losing his slim advantage in the penultimate stage of the rally. And, in front of a live television audience, Solberg maintained his advantage through the closing super special stage to take a hat-trick of wins in Rally GB. Behind Loeb, Markko Märtin finished on the podium in third with team-mate François Duval fifth, extending Ford’s impressive points scoring finish to 40 consecutive events. Carlos Sainz was fourth in the second Citroën and Harri Rovanperä, in sixth, claimed Peugeot’s only points of the rally, Marcus Grönholm having taken a wheel off after hitting a rock yesterday. In the Championship standings, Loeb retains his lead and has 28 points - nearly three rally wins - in hand to second-placed Petter Solberg. In the Manufacturers’ series, Citroën is 38 points ahead of Ford.

The 13th round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders to another new rally, the third this year. The gravel Supermag Rally d’Italia - Sardinia (September 30 - October 3) replaces the asphalt Rallye Sanremo and will provide yet another fresh challenge for the crews competing in the FIA WRC and the FIA Junior World Rally Championship. For the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship contenders, their series resumes next month on the Rallye de France - Tour de Corse (October 14-17).


  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Petter Solberg M / Phil Mills N/GB  Subaru Impreza WRC 04 A/8   
 Sébastien Loeb M / Daniel Elena F/MC  Citroën Xsara WRC A/8  + 6.3 
 Markko Märtin M / Michael Park EE/GB  Ford Focus RS WRC 04 A/8  + 2.53.7 
 Carlos Sainz M / Marc Marti E  Citroën Xsara WRC A/8  + 3.42.1 
 François Duval M / Stéphane Prevot B  Ford Focus RS WRC 04 A/8  + 4.41.3 
 Harri Rovanperä M / Risto Pietiläinen FIN  Peugeot 307 WRC A/8  + 6.44.9 
 Mikko Hirvonen M / Jarmo Lehtinen FIN  Subaru Impreza WRC 04 A/8  + 7.08.3 
 Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor A  Peugeot 206 WRC A/8  + 10.20.1 
 Nicolas Vouilloz / Denis Giraudet F  Peugeot 206 WRC A/8  + 15.12.3 
10   Antony Warmbold / Gemma Price D/GB  Ford Focus RS WRC 02 A/8  + 15.49.3 
11   Henning Solberg / Cato Menkerud N  Peugeot 206 WRC A/8  + 19.56.3 
12   Alistair Ginley / Rory Kennedy GB/IRL  Subaru Impreza WRC 03 A/8  + 20.49.5 
13   Matthew Wilson / Scott Martin GB  Ford Focus RS WRC A/8  + 22.32.3 
14   Alister McRae / Chris Patterson GB  Subaru Impreza 1st N N/4  + 24.56.6 
15   Gwyndaf Evans / Huw Lewis GB  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 2nd N N/4  + 31.56.3 
16   Mark Higgins / Michael Gibson GB  Ford Focus RS WRC A/8  + 32.37.5 
17   Kevin Lynch / Francis Regan GB  Subaru Impreza WRC A/8  + 33.45.2 
18   Guy Wilks J / Phil Pugh GB  Suzuki Ignis A/6  + 33.46.1 
19   Peter Bijvelds / Piet Bijvelds NL  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 3rd N N/4  + 35.41.9 
20   Kris Meeke J / David Senior GB  Opel Corsa A/6  + 35.46.7 
22   Toni Gardemeister / Paavo Lukander FIN  Škoda Fabia WRC A/8  + 39.34.9 
27   Seisuke Ohba / Hiroko Takahashi J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 4th N N/4  + 54.11.6 
33   Graham Coffey / David Gamblin GB  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9th N N/4  + 
36   Paul James / Derek Davies GB  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10th N A/8  + 
37   Andrew Davies / Andrew Smith GB  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 11th N N/4  + 
38   Damon Harvey / Aled Davies GB  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 12th N N/4  + 
39   Martyn England / Ian England GB  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 13th N N/4  + 
40   Piet van Hoof / Kris Botson NL/B  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 14th N N/4  + 
42   Noortje van Gennip / Geert Grooten NL/B  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 16th N N/4  + 
Nationalities: A=Austria/ B=Belgium/ D=Germany/ E=Spain/ EE=Estonia/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ IRL=Ireland/ J=Japan/ MC=Monte Carlo/ N=Norway/ NL=The Netherlands/
Names underlined followed by M indicate drivers nominated in the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers
Names followed by J indicate drivers eligible for FIA Junior World Rally Championship points