COMMUNIQUE 6
18 July 2004 - Updated 10 August 2004 Leg 3 Release

POINTS FOR PANIZZI AND MITSUBISHI IN ARGENTINA
Sohlberg failed to restart despite ’SUPERally’ regulations

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04
Gilles Panizzi / Hervé Panizzi
(Leg 3 - 18 July 2004)

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of Gilles and Hervé Panizzi scored points in Rally Argentina, the eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The French crew piloted their Lancer WRC04 to seventh position, having dropped to 18th during the opening leg of competition. As a consequence, they score points for themselves and Mitsubishi in both championships.

Team-mates Kristian Sohlberg and Kaj Lindström failed to restart this morning after the team identified an engine-related problem on their Lancer WRC04 late last night. The crew lost drive in stage 19 and although the transmission and relevant engine components could have been changed to get them back out for the final leg, there was simply insufficient time to complete the work to the standard required.

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04
Gilles Panizzi / Hervé Panizzi
(Leg 3 - 18 July 2004)
"We are very happy to have one car at the finish of such a tough and demanding rally", commented Technical Director Mario Fornaris. "Thanks go to Gilles, Hervé and the team who have all done a great job. Congratulations also to Kristian and Kaj; they were unlucky but they drove very well and made no mistakes".

The final leg of Rally Argentina took the crews to some of the most famous roads in the series. Just five stages and 84.96 competitive kilometers lay in wait, but the rocky tracks in the Traslasierra Mountains kept the crews on their toes until the closing seconds. The nature of the route also ensured that the famed El Cóndor and Giulio Césare stages could be included and these notorious ’rally-deciders’ were run as the last two stages of the event.

Gilles Panizzi enjoyed a trouble-free day and the Frenchman set sixth fastest time in each of the three morning stages run to the north of Villa Carlos Paz. This afternoon, he and co-driving brother Hervé claimed fourth fastest in the 24.69 kilometer Mina Clavero - Giulio Césare stage and then fifth in the final and famous El Cóndor section.

"I am very happy for the team that we are driving over the podium, everyone has worked extremely hard for this", commented Gilles. "If you look at the results, the only team to have both its cars at the finish is Citroën; all the other manufacturers also only got one car to the finish. This year’s event was very very difficult, but Kristian was fifth and would have been fourth yesterday. We have something to be pleased about".

The ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders back to Europe for high-speed action in Scandinavia. Rally Finland (August 6-8) is one of the most technically challenging and spectacular events in the series and the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team will be fielding local man Kristian Sohlberg alongside Gilles Panizzi.

News from our rivals...

Carlos Sainz claimed an emphatic victory today, notching up his 26th world rally win and first since the Rally of Turkey last year. Team-mate Sébastien Loeb finished second and extended his lead in the FIA World Rally Championship, and maximum points for Citroën gives the French team a clear 27 point lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship. François Duval finished on the podium for the third time this season and with large gaps both in front and behind, he cruised to the finish in third position. Mikko Hirvonen scored his best result of the season with fourth while Harri Rovanperä claimed more points for Peugeot in the sole remaining 307 WRC. Sixth position was claimed by local man Luis Perez-Companc in a Peugeot 206 WRC.



2004 FIA PRODUCTION CAR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 4

SOLA CLAIMS SECOND PWRC VICTORY FOR MITSUBISHI (SEE UPDATE)
Four wins from four starts for Lancer Evolution drivers
Lancer Evolutions first, second and third in Argentina

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Daniel Solà / Xavier Amigo
(Leg 3 - 18 July 2004)
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver "Dani" Solà claimed his second FIA Production Car World Rally Championship victory of the season in Rally Argentina this afternoon. The Spaniard’s win represents the fourth from four starts for Lancer Evolution drivers, who also finished second and third in the fourth round of their series. Solà extends his lead in the Championship after an impressive drive that saw him finish one minute 11.1 seconds ahead of Jani Paasonen in similar machinery.

Argentina is one of the toughest rallies in the world and in the final leg, weary crews focused on getting to the finish. Although the last leg was the shortest, it was also one of the toughest, rounding off with the notorious Giulio Césare and El Cóndor stages, climbing to 2,200 meters in the Andean foothills west of Córdoba. A trial to the crews, the final day was a treat for spectators, many of whom trekked into the mountains hours in advance to claim the best vantage points. Just 29 of the 69 starters reached the finish.

Dani Solà was under pressure to defend his narrow points lead before the rally, but the Spaniard has proved his worth with a beautifully judged drive in his Lancer Evolution, confidently defending his overnight lead to make sure of a richly deserved victory.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Daniel Solà / Xavier Amigo
(Leg 3 - 18 July 2004)
"Of course I am really happy", said Dani. "My plan here was just to finish as high as possible and when I rolled on the first day it was not so easy. I want to say thank you very much to my mechanics, because they put the car right every time. It was not easy also, because I didn’t know some of the stages today and for me it was important to keep concentrating, because if you drive too slow you don’t get the feeling. Now I have led on three gravel rallies in different countries this year; that is also important to me".

"Gigi" Galli, who led after the last stage yesterday, then incurred a one-minute penalty when his team had difficulties changing the transmission in service late last night. The Italian dropped to second behind Solà, but was then sidelined after a fine debut drive in Argentina when he broke the steering arm in the opening stage this morning. The Italian will however be back in action in Rally Finland next month.

Finland’s Jani Paasonen put in another strong drive on a rally that claimed many of his chief rivals, guiding his Lancer Evolution to second place. Austrian team-mate Manfred Stohl made full use of his considerable Argentine experience to clinch third with a measured performance and Lancer Evolution drivers took five of the eight World Championship points-scoring positions.

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Post event scrutineering subsequently revealed an irregularity with the clutch on “Dani” Solà’s Lancer Evolution. After a Meeting of the Stewards (Monday August 9), the Spaniard has been excluded from the results.

Jani Paasonen has therefore been awarded victory and he claims maximum points for the second time this season.


The FIA Production Car World Rally Championship contenders resume action in Germany when they tackle their first Tarmac round, Rallye Deutschland (August 20-22), the fifth round of their series.

FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Carlos Sainz M / Marc Marti E  Citroën Xsara WRC A/8 4.23.11.0   
 Sébastien Loeb M / Daniel Elena F/MC  Citroën Xsara WRC A/8 4.24.43.5  + 1.32.5 
 François Duval M / Stéphane Prevot B  Ford Focus RS WRC 04 A/8 4.27.34.5  + 4.23.5 
 Mikko Hirvonen M / Jarmo Lehtinen FIN  Subaru Impreza WRC 04 A/8 4.31.38.7  + 8.27.7 
 Harri Rovanperä M / Risto Pietiläinen FIN  Peugeot 307 WRC A/8 4.33.10.9  + 9.59.9 
 Luis Perez-Companc / José-Maria Volta RA  Peugeot 206 WRC A/8 4.39.35.7  + 16.24.7 
 Gilles Panizzi M / Hervé Panizzi F  Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04 A/8 4.40.50.0  + 17.39.0 
 Gabriel Pozzo / Daniel Stillo RA  Subaru Impreza N/4 4.43.49.6  + 20.38.6 
 Antony Warmbold / Gemma Price D/GB  Ford Focus RS WRC 02 A/8 4.45.28.4  + 22.17.4 
10   Jani Paasonen P / Jani Vainikka FIN  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 4.46.43.5  + 23.32.5 
11   Sebastián Beltrán / Edgardo Galindo RA  Subaru Impreza N/4 4.47.14.1  + 24.03.1 
12   Manfred Stohl P / Ilka Minor A  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 4.49.16.3  + 26.05.3 
13   Ramón Ferreyros / Rubén Garcia PE/RA  Subaru Impreza N/4 4.51.45.0  + 28.34.0 
14   Nasser-S. Al-Attiyah P / Chris Patterson QA/GB  Subaru Impreza N/4 4.57.25.8  + 34.14.8 
15   Raúl Martínez / Rodolfo Amelio-Ortiz RA  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 5.05.33.6  + 42.22.6 
16   Niall McShea P / Michael Orr GB  Subaru Impreza N/4 5.10.54.1  + 47.43.1 
17   Sergio Fombona P / Guifré Pujol E  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 5.15.03.9  + 51.52.9 
18   Georgi Geradzhiev P / Nikola Popov BG  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 5.18.49.2  + 55.38.2 
19   Fabio Frisiero P / Giovanni Agnese I  Subaru Impreza N/4 5.21.24.2  + 58.13.2 
20   Andrés Montalto / Max Rohrmoser CR  Subaru Impreza N/4 5.22.58.8  + 59.47.8 
21   Luis Valverde / Adolfo Espinosa ECU  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4 5.34.10.4  + 1.10.59.4 
Nationalities: A=Austria/ B=Belgium/ BG=Bulgaria/ CR=Costa Rica/ D=Germany/ E=Spain/ ECU=Ecuador/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ I=Italy/ MC=Monte Carlo/ PE=Peru/ QA=Qatar/ RA=Argentina/
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