2 October 2005 LEG 3 RELEASE

Lancer WRC05 takes a total of five stage victories in Rally Japan
Rovanperä claims fifth for Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of Harri Rovanperä/Risto Pietiläinen finished Rally Japan, the 13th round of the FIA World Rally Championship, in fifth position - a result that belies a stunning performance throughout the event. Gilles and Hervé Panizzi, in the second registered Lancer WRC05, finished in 11th position. "Gigi" Galli and Guido d’Amore were on course for a fourth place finish but were forced into retirement after damaging the rear suspension.

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen
"This rally has been difficult and not predictable, but I believe we have showed very good performance, especially during the first two legs", commented Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports. "I think our red fans enjoyed our fighting spirit. Today Harri had a problem, but immediately came back with a fastest time - he is ’King of the Satsunai super special! Gilles reached the finish and I’m sure will be looking forward to Corsica, while Gigi was unlucky, but then this is what the sport can be about. We have had two very good days during this rally and our motivation is high for the future".

Today’s leg, near Shintoku and to the north-west of Obihiro, was the shortest and took in five stages and 85.94 competitive kilometers, again based around the central service area at Kita Aikoku.

Harri Rovanperä, fifth overnight, had a heart-wrenching morning, the Finn losing time when the engine stalled in the first corner of the first stage, losing him 36 seconds to the leader and his position to both Atkinson and Duval. He then dropped another 50 seconds in the following stage with damage to the front right corner. Despite such disappointment, he did however hold on to a position in the top six at the mid-leg service. In the following super special stage he was back on the pace, setting equal fastest time alongside reigning World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb, and then inherited fifth position in the penultimate stage when rally leader Petter Solberg was forced into retirement.

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Gilles Panizzi / Hervé Panizzi
"Generally I have to say the whole weekend - in fact the whole week - has been very nice", said Harri. "We can now show our speed and maintain a top position and that’s the main thing. It has been easier than last year, mainly because we have had fewer problems, but you can never say a rally is ’easy’ and this one, in particular, is very tough. But now we have proved we and the car can fight. And of course I have to say that the support we have all had here is amazing; there were thousands of people on the road sections - red flags everywhere!"

Gigi Galli - who has also shown a great performance on Mitsubishi’s home rally - started the day fourth overall and claimed fifth in the opening stage to maintain position. However, the Italian damaged the left rear suspension after running wide and hitting something in the 24.88 kilometer Penke stage (SS23) and dropped over five minutes limping to the end. He plummeted down the leaderboard to 11th but was forced to retire after the stage.

"It was really bad luck, what can I say", said Gigi. "We just touched something, I don’t know what and I’m so sorry and apologetic to the team. Maybe it was the same corner where Harri had his problem, I think it’s possible, and he was just luckier than me. It is hugely disappointing and reminds us that with one small mistake you can lose a lot. But we have to keep in our mind that the car performed fantastically here in Japan and our performance was good for two full days".

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Gilles Panizzi / Hervé Panizzi
Gilles Panizzi enjoyed a better day and was happier after the team made various changes to the Lancer WRC05 last night. "The feeling has been much better today, but the car is still a little too ’lazy’ for the way I like to drive", he said. "I tried to progress again this afternoon but really I needed to come back and understand the car again for the future".

Adding to the drivers’ comments, Technical Director Yasuo Tanaka said: "It’s been a disappointing day but, except for this, Rally Japan has been a fantastic event for Mitsubishi; our best of the season. We confirmed our performance and made good improvements that can drive us forward once again".

The FIA World Rally Championship contenders now return to Europe for two Mediterranean back-to-back rallies. The Rallye de France - Tour de Corse (October 20-23) is one of the most specialized Tarmac rallies in the series and poses a huge technical and physical challenge with its incessant twists and turns through mountainous terrain. The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team will once again be fielding three cars for Harri Rovanperä, Gigi Galli and Gilles Panizzi.

News from our rivals

After leading the rally for all but two stages, Petter Solberg was robbed of victory in the penultimate stage when he hit a rock and broke the Subaru’s steering. Victory therefore landed in the lap of Marcus Grönholm, his second win of the season. Sébastien Loeb - finishing second overall - claimed the FIA World Rally Championship title (subject to FIA confirmation) on Japanese soil. The Frenchman only needed to finish third, regardless of rivals’ positions around him, and drove the rally required to secure his second title. Subaru’s Christopher Atkinson drove to third, his best-ever result, while François Duval claimed fourth ahead of Mitsubishi driver Harri Rovanperä. Ford maintained its record of scoring on each round; Toni Gardemeister and Roman Kresta finishing sixth and seventh respectively to claim Ford’s 57th consecutive points-scoring finish. Daniel Carlsson, stepping in for Markko Märtin, rounded off the top eight.

2005 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship (Round 7/8)


Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Fumio Nutahara finished Rally Japan, the penultimate round of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship, in second position today. The Japanese collects eight points for a measured drive in a hotly-contested series.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr, N
Fumio Nutahara / Satoshi Hayashi
Today’s final leg was the shortest of the event and took the crews to the north-west of Obihiro for five stages and 85.94 kilometers of competition. Nutahara started the day second of the FIA PWRC crews and his focus was firmly focused on maintaining position during another difficult and tricky day.

"I am very happy with our result", he said at the finish. "I had no problems at all today and our tire choices were good. In the first stage this morning I decided to push, but Toshi(Arai) was very fast so in the second one I decided to keep position, maintain a careful pace and be pleased with our second place. Our next event is Rally Australia, which I like a lot. Hopefully we can go one better there".

Only seven FIA Production Car World Rally Championship contenders completed Rally Japan, and overnight fourth-placed FIA PWRC contender Federico Villagra was one of the casualties of the day. He went off the road and into retirement in an event where he was desperate to gain experience for the future.

Riccardo Errani did however complete the event and the Italian Lancer Evolution driver picked up points for finishing seventh of the contenders.

The final round of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship takes the crews to Rally Australia (November 10-13).


  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Marcus GRONHOLM / Timo Rautiainen FIN  PEUGEOT 307 WRC A8 M   
 Sébastien LOEB / Daniel Elena F/MC  CITROEN Xsara WRC A8 M  1.22.1 
 Christopher ATKINSON / Glenn Macneall AUS  SUBARU Impreza WRC 05 A8 M  2.40.0 
 François DUVAL / Sven Smeets B  CITROEN Xsara WRC A8 M  2.59.4 
 Harri ROVANPERA / Risto Pietiläinen FIN  MITSUBISHI Lancer WRC05 A8 M  3.59.8 
 Toni GARDEMEISTER / Jakke Honkanen FIN  FORD Focus RS WRC 04 A8 M  4.32.3 
 Roman KRESTA / Jan Tománek CZ  FORD Focus RS WRC 04 A8 M  5.32.0 
 Daniel CARLSSON / Mattias Andersson S  PEUGEOT 307 WRC A8 M  6.39.1 
 Antony WARMBOLD / Michael Orr D/GB  FORD Focus RS WRC 04 A8  7.39.3 
10   Armin SCHWARZ / Klaus Wicha D  SKODA Fabia WRC A8 M  12.07.4 
11   Gilles PANIZZI / Hervé Panizzi F  MITSUBISHI Lancer WRC05 A8 M  13.56.8 
12   Toshihiro ARAI / Tony Sircombe J/NZ  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  21.12.3 
13   Cody CROCKER / Dale Moscatt AUS  SUBARU Impreza N4  22.16.7 
14   Fumio NUTAHARA / Satoshi Hayashi J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P  22.53.8 
15   Aki TEISKONEN / Miika Antilla FIN  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  27.55.5 
16   Masayuki ISHIDA / Shigeru Sawada J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  28.10.3 
17   Guy WILKS / Phil Pugh GB  SUZUKI Swift A6  28.31.7 
18   Norihiko KATSUTA / Mitsuhiro Yamamoto J  SUBARU Impreza N4  31.44.8 
19   Marcos LIGATO / Rubèn Garcia RA  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  31.59.3 
20   Sebastián BELTRAN / Edgardo Galindo RA  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  35.52.4 
21   Atushi MASUMURA / Yukinori Fukumura J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  36.14.8 
23   Seisuke OHBA / Hiroko Takahashi J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  42.43.4 
24   Shinya YAMAUCHI / Tetsuro Sugimura J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  48.35.8 
25   Gento NAGAYOSHI / Norimasa Yamagishi J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  51.25.7 
26   Masahiro NAKAJIMA / Takayuki Numao J  SUBARU Impreza N4  51.30.3 
27   James MARDEN / Kohei Kusaka AUS/J  SUBARU Impreza N4  52.21.2 
28   Ryuji HORIKAWA / Katsuya Kato J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  53.57.8 
29   Yuji NAKATA / Yasuyuki Atsuchi J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  54.52.0 
30   Hideaki MIYOSHI / Hakaru Ichino J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  55.04.9 
32   Aritoshi MITSUKURI / Michiko Hasegawa J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  56.56.8 
33   Michiyasu ENDO / Yasuyuki Kano J  SUBARU Impreza N4  58.00.1 
34   Shinsuke ARAI / Akiyoshi Uchida J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  58.05.8 
35   Osamu YAMAGUCHI / Kohyoh Kimura J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  58.43.7 
36   Mitsuhiro KUNISAWA / Anne Gigney J/AUS  SUBARU Impreza N4 
37   Daisuke YAMADA / Takumi Takahashi J  SUBARU Impreza N4 
38   Masaki YAMADA / Masako Sakane J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 
39   Satoshi FUJITO / Takashi Kamemori J  SUBARU Impreza N4 
40   Fuyuhiko TAKAHASHI / Mitsuo Nakamura J  SUBARU Impreza N4 
41   Alexander GAMAYUNOV / Yuri Golovin RUS  SUBARU Impreza N4 
42   Eiichi IWASHITA / Akihiko Takahashi J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 
43   Yutaka AWAZUHARA / Shigeyuki Gotoh J  SUZUKI Ignis N2 
45   Hamed AL-WAHAIBI / David Senior OM/GB  SUBARU Impreza N4 P 
47   Riccardo ERRANI / Stefano Casadio I  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P 
48   Masuhiro ITO / Jun Chigami J  DAIHATSU Boon N1 
49   Masayuki AKABA / Takako Akaba J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 
50   Koji BABA / Mitsuhiro Onaya J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 
51   Kozue OI / Yumiko Toyama J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 
52   Yukinobu NOMURA / Koichi Miki J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 
58   Tatsuru SAITO / Yoshihito Narita J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 
59   Kaoru FUJII / Hitoshi Kishimoto J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 
Nationalities: AUS=Australia/ B=Belgium/ CZ=Czech Republic/ D=Germany/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ I=Italy/ J=Japan/ MC=Monte Carlo/ NZ=New Zealand/ OM=Oman/ RA=Argentina/ RUS=Russia/ S=Sweden/
M: drivers nominated in the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers
P: drivers eligible for FIA Production Car World Rally Championship points