Group N, the class for standard cars was once again dominated by Mitsubishi, with Yoshihiro Kataoka and Satoshi Hayashi taking the honours in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III. The Japanese pair now lead the Group N Asia-Pacific series jointly with Malaysia's Karamjit Singh, who finished second on this event in his Proton Wira 4WD which is similar in specification to the Mitsubishi Lancer.
With this result, Mitsubishi has strengthened its position in the FIA Asia-Pacific Championship for Manufacturers, claiming second place after this, the third round, with 68 points to Subaru's 99.
The final 186 km leg today was once again plagued with stage cancellations caused by safety concerns, with just two stages covering 36 km run out of five planned covering 70 km. Stage 26, the longest of the day at 23 km was successfully run thanks to the joint efforts of the Mitsubishi, Subaru, Hyundai, Suzuki and Goro rally teams who supplied teams of mechanics and other staff to help man and secure the stage. Once again, high temperatures and humidity made life difficult for the competitors, but both Burns, in the Michelin-shod Lancer, and Shinozuka, using Yokohama tyres, completed the two stages without problems. Out of the 35 cars that started the leg, 32 made it to the finish.
Said Burns: "It was a very difficult rally and hard to enjoy, but my Lancer ran perfectly, my Michelin tyres were very good, and I am very satisfied with my result."
Shinozuka commented: "It was a very frustrating rally, but I am pleased with third. This would be a great rally with some improvements."
Delighted Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short added: "We're very happy with our result here in Malaysia. Despite the challenge of the rough, hot conditions, and the frustration of having so many stages cancelled, we're very satisfied with our performance here. We're glad that Richard has had a good result, and Kenjiro did a very good back-up job, which now means there is everything to fight for in the Asia-Pacific Championship."
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart now looks forward to the next round of the World Rally Championship in Argentina, which takes place on July 4-6, where Tommi Makinen hopes to extend his lead in the Drivers' series in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III and Richard Burns will join the World Championship team once again. The next round of the Asia-Pacific Championship will be the Rally New Zealand, which takes place on July 28-30, where Burns and Makinen will be hoping to put Mitsubishi back into control of the series.
|1.K. Eriksson-S. Parmander||S/S||Subaru Impreza 555||02.25.33|
|GB/GB||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+1.17|
|J/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+7.51|
|4.P. Bourne-C. Vincent||RI/RI||Subaru Impreza||+7.56|
|T. Challis-S. Vanderbly||AUS/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+10.41|
|Y. Kataoka-S. Hayashi||J/J||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+11.46(1st N )|
|T.tomiyasu-S.Komiya||J/J||Mitsubishi Lancer RS||+16.39|
|K. Taguchi-M. Stacey||J/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+19.31|