MITSUBISHI MOTORS

RALLI ART

Report
FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
RALLYE DE FRANCE
12 OCTOBER 2008
DAY 3
MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION DOMINATES GROUP N ON THE RALLY IN CORSICA OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

JUHO HANNINEN / MIKKO MARKKULA
 

JUHO HANNINEN / MIKKO MARKKULA
 

PIERRE NATALI / GILBERT FRANCOIS DINI
 
Just four days after dominating the Group N category of Rally Catalunya, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution drivers were doing the same on the other side of the Mediterranean with flying Finn Juho Hanninen (Finland) backing up his Spanish podium of a week ago with a sensational maiden category success on the Tour de Corse in Ajaccio this afternoon.

Hanninen was never headed in the Group N section of one of the world’s toughest and most arduous rallies. And his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution never missed a beat. Among the other Group N cars, Hanninen enjoyed level of domination previously unseen at this level as he scored fastest time on each and every one of the 16 stages in this year’s Tour de Corse.

The event was provided all competitors with an astonishingly challenging route including 359 tortuously twisty kilometers. Based, as usual, alongside the harbor in Ajaccio, the final asphalt event of the FIA World Rally Championship season carried crews through the mountain passes to the north, south and east of the Mediterranean coastal resort. And there was no respite for the crews, either. The final day of a modern world rally is usually considerably shorter than the two proceeding it offering competitors the chance to wind down and ease their way to a Sunday lunchtime finish. Not this time. The Corsican route was only marginally shorter than Friday and Saturday, with two runs at Agosta-Pont de Calzola (31.81km) and Pietra Rossa-Verghia (26.32km) to deal with.

Hanninen was more than ready for those challenges. He drove superbly throughout the three days, untroubled by anybody on his way to Group N success. Contesting the event in an effort to gain more asphalt experience as he climbs the ladder to World Rally Championship success, Hanninen was delighted with his three days on what’s known as the Island of Beauty.

"It’s an incredible event," he said. "All of the time it’s corner and corner and corner. There is never a straight. You know it’s so hard on the car. Everything on the car is working really hard particularly in this weather."

The Tour de Corse was played out under clear, azure blue skies allowing locals, rally fans and crews alike to enjoy the last remnants of a fine Mediterranean summer. The sunny conditions did, however, bring their own issues. Temperatures on Saturday peaked at 28 degrees, forcing the tires to work far harder than many had expected on these roads at this time of the year.

Hanninen admitted he’d had to think about the rubber beneath his all-conquering Lancer Evolution. He added: "It would have been easy to burn the tire early in the stage. We had to look after them, these were long stages on really abrasive roads. This is why we are here, though, to find out about these conditions."

Behind Hanninen, Pierre Natali (Grance) was third in Group N in another Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution after a similarly strong run through the scorching stages.

In the overall proceedings, Sebastien Loeb (France) took another step towards the World Rally Championship with another win for Citroen. Ford man Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) was second, with his team-mate Francois Duval (Belgium) third.

The next round of the World Rally Championship (and Production WRC) is Rally Japan, October 30 November 2.


 OVERALL CLASSIFICATION
Pos Driver
Co-Driver
Nat Vehicle Cls Total
Time
Diff
Leader
1
M
Sebastien Loeb
Daniel Elena
F
MC
CITROEN C4 WRC A
1
3:42:58.0 **:**:**.*
2
M
Mikko Hirvonen
Jarmo Lehtinen
FIN
FIN
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
2
3:46:22.7 3:24.7
3
M
Francois Duval
Patrick Pivato
B
F
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
3
3:46:29.6 3:31.6
4
M
Jari-Matti Latvala
Miikka Anttila
FIN
FIN
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
4
3:46:35.5 3:37.5
5
M
Petter Solberg
Philip Mills
N
GB
SUBARU IMPREZA WRC 2008 A
5
3:48:33.4 5:35.4
6
M
Chris Atkinson
Stephane Prevot
AUS
B
SUBARU IMPREZA WRC 2008 A
6
3:49:08.4 6:10.4
7
Urmo Aava
Kuldar Sikk
EE
EE
CITROEN C4 WRC A
7
3:50:23.2 7:25.2
8
M
Matthew Wilson
Scott Martin
GB
GB
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
8
3:52:00.2 9:02.2
9
Mads Ostberg
Ole Unnerud
S
N
SUBARU IMPREZA WRC A
9
3:52:11.3 9:13.3
10
Barry Clark
Paul Nagle
GB
GB
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
10
3:56:36.3 13:38.3
11
Andreas Mikkelsen
Ola Floene
N
N
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 06 A
11
3:56:44.0 13:46.0
12
Khalid Al Qassimi
Michael Orr
UAE
GB
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
12
3:57:04.3 14:06.3
13
M
Toni Gardenmeister
Tomi Tuominen
FIN
FIN
SUZUKI SX4 A
13
3:57:29.2 14:31.2
14
Conrad Rautenbach
David Senior
ZW
GB
CITROEN C4 WRC A
14
3:57:40.2 14:42.2
15
Henning Solberg
Cato Menkerud
N
N
FORD FOCUS RS WRC 07 A
15
3:58:51.4 15:53.4
16
Gareth Jones
Clive Jenkins
GB
GB
SUBARU IMPREZA WRC A
16
4:01:43.0 18:45.0
17
M
Per-Gunnar Andersson
Jonas Andersson
S
S
SUZUKI SX4 A
17
4:01:55.0 18:57.0
18
Alain Vauthier
Dorin Pulpea
F
I
PEUGEOT 206 WRC A
18
4:04:26.6 21:28.6
19
J
Martin Prokop
Jan Tomanek
CZ
CZ
CITROEN C2 A
19
4:04:43.9 21:45.9
20
J
Sebastien Ogier
Julien Ingrassia
F
F
CITROEN C2 A
20
4:05:01.6 22:03.6
../
24
Juho Hanninen
Mikko Markkula
FIN
FIN
MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION IX N
1
4:06:49.4 23:51.4
35
Pierre Natali
Gilbert Francois Dini
F
F
MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION IX N
3
4:19:26.2 36:28.2


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