MITSUBISHI MOTORS

RALLI ART

Report
FIA ASIA-PACIFIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 1: RALLYE DE NOUVELLE CALEDONIE
15 APRIL 2007
LEG 2
MITSUBISHI CLEAN SWEEP FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

MITSUBISHI PODIUM
 

JUSSI VALIMAKI / JARKKO KALLIOLEPO
 

KATSU TAGUCHI / MARK STACEY
 
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution cars filled the top five places in the opening round of the 2007 Asia Pacific Rally Championship held on the beautiful tropical island paradise of New Caledonia. Finland’s Jussi Valimaki won the event closely followed by his MRF Mitsubishi team-mate Katsu Taguchi (Japan) with local New Caledonian driver Patrick Yanai finishing third.

New Caledonia is a unique event, the island being 500km long and a mere 50 km wide, part of the third largest archipelago in the Pacific Ocean after New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The New Caledonia lagoon (24,000 sq kms) is the largest in the world, with 1,600 kms of coral barrier reef being home to literally thousands of different types of marine life.

The Rallye de Noucelle Caledonie started on Friday (13th) with a ceremonial start in downtown Noumea followed by a super-special that made up the first two stages, The MRF Mitsubishi team immediately set the pace with Taguchi and Valimaki finishing on identical times for the first stage. The second run through the super-special, Indian driver Naren Kumar was one second faster than his compatriot Garev Gill and Valimaki. The next morning the event moved to Poya, 200 kilometres north of Noumea to run over 3 stages, 3 times and a total for the leg of 156 kilometres of competition.

With roads fast and dry Valimaki was fastest on Stage 3, but not far behind was team-mate Taguchi. The Japanese driver had won here in 2006 and from Stage 4 won all remaining stages of the day to lead the event by 24 seconds. At the end of leg service Taguchi said “We’re very happy to be leading, everything went well today, the car is good and the roads very nice – just sometimes the grip can be difficult to predict’. Valimaki was second and happy to be back in the APRC “Today was OK for me, just getting used to driving Group N Mitsubishi again and the MRF tyres. Tomorrow is a big day so we will wait and see”.

Third behind the two MRF cars was yet another Mitsubishi Lancer driven by New Caledonian driver Patrick Yanai. “We are happy to have a good start to our Asia-Pacific campaign, but tomorrow is difficult”.

The second leg although shorter, featured the treacherous Katrikoin stage - 28 kilometres of twisty mountain road and recent rain had made parts of the road muddy and slippery. Although the day was fine and hot, Valimaki opted for mud tyres on the first loop and it proved to be the best choice as he took the lead, from Taguchi by 6 seconds. For the second run, the two drivers again decided on a different tyre choice - Valimaki staying with muds and Taguchi a cut dry tyre. The conditions favoured Valimaki’s choice and he extended his lead to win by 19 seconds. Prior to the finish podium he commented “ I think we did an excellent tyre choice today, especially for the long stage, the mud tyres worked perfectly. Also the car and the suspension works well with these tyres – I was very confident about what we are doing. For the next event we need to do some more testing and I think there is some more time we can gain.”

Taguchi was a little disappointed to have lost his lead after driving so well, “We choose two totally different tyres, but for me it is the correct one for my style of driving – we drive quite differently and I am more sideways and it doesn’t suit the mud tyre. Next time it could be different. I am pleased that we have 13 points for the championship and we still have five more events to go – lots can happen. I believe my driving has improved so I’m looking forward to the next rally for our team, Rally of Canberra in Australia.

New Caledonian Patrick Yania kept his third place, although he briefly lost it after a bad tyre choice on the first run through Katrikoin. In forth spot was Indian driver Naren Kumar in the JK Tyres Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, followed by another New Caledonian Robert Christian. This was Christian’s first ever rally – 5th in an international rally.

The next round of the 2007 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship is the Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand on 11-13 May.



 FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION
Pos Driver
Co-Driver
Vehicle Total
Time
Diff
Leader
1
AP
Jussi Valimaki
Jarkko Kalliolepo
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX 2:54:15 **:**:**
2
AP
Katsu Taguchi
Mark Stacey
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX 2:54;34 +0:19
3
AP
Patrick Yanai
Dominique Yanai
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII 2:59:03 +4:48
4
AP
Naren Kumar
D. Ramkumar
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX 3:00:31 +6:16
5
 
Marty Rostenburg
Greg Harnett
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII 3:11:12 +16:57
6
 
Claude Clavel
Jean-Luc Tojib
Subaru Impreza 3:15:52 +21:37
7
AP
Robert Christian
Yannick Lethezer
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI 3:16;12 +21:57


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