Only five of today's 13 planned stages were run as the organisers clamped down on the safety aspects of the event, the 36 competitors that started from Kuala Lumper this morningtackling 51 km out of the original stage distance of 190 km. While the shortened route hampered both Mitsubishi drivers as they attempted to pressurise rally leader Kenneth Eriksson of Subaru, both performed superbly in the extremely hot and humid conditions.
Burns was fortunate to survive a final stage accident which saw the Lancer clip a tree under braking into a hairpin. The fact that no mechanical damage was sustained and the British driver lost only nine seconds to Eriksson is a testament to the strength of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III. The heavy cosmetic damage to the bodywork was quickly and efficiently repaired by the Ralliart technicians at the final service.
Says Burns: "I hit the tree very hard, but the car is still driving perfectly. Although it was a long day today we did very few stages which was frustrating and affected every drivers' concentration. Everything went perfectly apart from the last stage and the Lancer is running extremely well on its Michelin tyres."
Shinozuka reports: " The car is much better today, but I had a puncture on stage 20. I am pleased that we have now moved up to third place. It has been a difficult but rewarding day."
Team Petronas Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short adds: "With the stage cancellations it was a very difficult day. However, both Richard and Kenjiro remained clam and relaxed despite the frustration caused by the resultant delays, and we are very happy to be second and third at this point."
Japanese driver Yoshihro Kataoka, co-driven by Satoshi Hayashi continues to lead Group N in his standard version of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III, despite driving hard over extremely rough terrain in hot conditions, strong sunshine in the afternoon pushing temperatures over the 40 degree Celsius mark once again. With only one retirement, when Piero Liatti crashed his Subaru on the final stage, 35 cars reported to the second overnight halt in Kuala Lumpur.
The third and final leg of the Rally Malaysia starts tomorrow at 06:00 with five stages planned covering 70 km in a route of 186 km. Strong sunshine and high temperatures are expected again. The Rally is due to finish in Kuala Lumpur at 12:00.
|1.K. Eriksson-S. Parmander||S/S||Subaru Impreza 555||01.56.35|
|GB/GB||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+1.15|
|J/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+6.07|
|4.P. Bourne-C. Vincent||RI/RI||Subaru Impreza||+10.45|
|AUS/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+11.09|
|J/J||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+11.26|
|7.N. Tajima-J. Sukosi||J/T||Suzuki Swift||+15.45|
|8.W. Bell-I. Stewart||AUS/AUS||Hyundai Lantra||+16.02|