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FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 7: RALLY D'ITALIA SARDEGNA
MITSUBISHI LANCER WRC05 DRIVER
JUSSI VALIMAKI SCORES POINTS,
HANNINEN WINS GROUP N
 
21 MAY 2006 LEG 3 RELEASE
 
OVERALL FINAL RESULTS
OVERALL LEG 2 RESULTS
OVERALL LEG 1 RESULTS

Jussi Valimaki / Jarko Kalliolepo
Mitsubishi Lancer WRC
 

Juho Hanninen / Marko Sallinen
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
 

Juho Hanninen / Marko Sallinen
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
 
Finland’s Jussi Valimaki scored a sensational fifth position at today’s finish of Rally Italia, despite never having driven the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 competitively before the start of the Sardinian event. Valimaki’s result was even better, given that it was his first World Rally Car outing in the FIA World Rally Championship for more than 18 months.

The 31-year-old, co-driven by Jarkko Kalliolepo, spent last season winning the FIA Asia-Pacific Championship in a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, but elected to step up to a World Rally Car for this year’s Rally Italia. He will also compete in the same car in next week’s Acropolis Rally in Greece.

Soon after clinching the best result of his career, Valimaki said: "The Mitsubishi Lancer has been fantastic on this rally. It’s been a while since I drove a World Rally Car, it’s amazing how they have changed. The performance was incredible. It took some time for me to get used to the car to start with. I’m used to driving the Group N Mitsubishi but the Lancer WRC05 requires a different style."

Valimaki’s run through the 18 hot, dry and dusty stages on the Italian island were trouble-free, allowing him to spend the third and final day fighting for fifth place with 2003 world champion Petter Solberg. Going into the final stage, Solberg was just 10.7 seconds behind him. Valimaki clinched the position despite not having the best run through the last test of the event.

"I stalled on the startline and then had a spin in the stage," he said. "I was trying so hard, but the road was really difficult. It doesn’t matter now, though. Petter stopped so we took the fifth position. It’s fantastic for me."

Head of Mitsubishi Motorsports, Isao Torii was on hand to witness Valimaki’s finest hour in the WRC. He said: "Jussi has driven very well on this rally. What I have also been impressed with is the pace and reliability the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 has shown on what was one of the toughest rallies in the season so far. This is a very good result."

To make a good rally even better for Mitsubishi, Valimaki’s fellow Finn Juho Hanninen scored his second Group N win at World Rally Championship level. Hanninen dropped to third on Friday afternoon, but rocketed straight back to the front, eventually winning the class by an incredible 10 minutes.

"I can’t believe how I this car performs so well on roads as rough as these," said the 24-year-old. "It’s been amazing. I haven’t had one single problem with the car. We had one punctured tire on the final stage on Friday, but otherwise, it’s been incredible. Now I have done two WRC rallies and won Group N in my Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution on each of them."

At the front of the field, Frenchman Sebastien Loeb took his second consecutive Rally Italia win for Citroen, beating Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen into second place. The final podium position place went to Daniel Sordo in another Citroen.

The next round of the FIA World Rally Championship is the Acropolis Rally, June 1-4.


 OVERALL FINAL CLASSIFICATION
Pos Driver
Co-Driver
Vehicle Grp
Pos
Total
Time
Diff
Leader
1
M1
Sebastien Loeb
Daniel Elena
Citroen Xsara WRC A
1
3:54:18.9 **:**.*
2
M1
Mikko Hirvonen
Jarmo Lehtinen
Ford Focus RS WRC 06 A
2
3:57:00.3 +2:41.4
3 Daniel Sordo
Marc Marti
Citroen Xsara A
3
3:57:46.6 +3:27.7
4
M1
Xavier Pons
Carlos Del Barrio
Citroen Xsara WRC A
4
3:59:47.2 +5:28.3
5 Jussi Valimaki
Jarko Kalliolepo
Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 A
5
4:01:27.7 +7:08.8
6 Kristian Sohlberg
Tomi Tuominen
Subaru Impreza WRC A
6
4:01:55.8 +7:36.9
7
M2
Manfred Stohl
Ilka Minor
Peugeot 307 WRC A
7
4:02:37.3 +8:18.4
8 Francois Duval
Patrick Privato
Skoda Fabia WRC A
8
4:04:04.7 +9:45.8
9
M1
Petter Solberg
Phil Mills
Subaru Impreza WRC 2006 A
9
4:04:38.8 +10:19.9
10
M1
Chris Atkinson
Glenn Macneall
Subaru Impreza WRC 2006 A
10
4:05:22.8 +11:03.9
11 Gareth MacHale
Paul Nagle
Ford Focus RS WRC 04 A
11
4:09:18.4 +14:59.5
12 Luis Perez Companc
Jose Maria Volta
Ford Focus RS WRC 04 A
12
4:10:24.4 +16:05.5
13
M2
Andreas Aigner
Timo Gottschalk
Skoda Fabia WRC A
13
4:15:19.7 +21:00.8
14 Juho Hanninen
Marko Sallinen
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX N
1
4:22:23.0 +28:04.1
15
J
Patrik Sandell
Emil Axelsson
Renault Clio S1600 A
14
4:26:25.2 +32:06.3
16
J
Conrad Rautenbach
David Senior
Renault Clio S1600 A
15
4:31:33.6 +37:14.7
17 Jan Kopecky
Filip Schovanek
Skoda Fabia WRC A
16
4:31:35.7 +37:16.8
18
J
Urmo Aava
Kuldar Sikk
Suzuki Swift S1600 A
17
4:32:02.0 +37:43.1
19 Alan Scorcioni
Cristian Cerlini
Subaru Impreza N
2
4:32:05.2 +37:46.3
20
M2
Harri Rovanpera
Risto Pietilainen
Skoda Fabia WRC A
18
4:33:16.0 +38:57.1
../
29 Simone Campedelli
Danilo Fappani
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII N
5
4:45:47.0 +51:28.1
36 Francesco Marrone
Massimo Piga
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI N
9
4:52:19.4 +58:00.5
46 Bernardino Caragliu
Mauro Atzei
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI N
17
5:05:57.0 +1:11:38.1
53 Igor Sokolov
Vasily Mirkotan
Mitsubishi Lancer WRC A
31
5:20:35.5 +1:26:16.6



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