Wednesday 20th May
LEG 1 - SECTION 1 - 1 Superspecial 4,85 km
MITSUBISHI LANCER AND CARISMA GT MAKE GOOD START TO
RALLY OF ARGENTINA
Team Mitsubishi Ralliarts powerful team of Lancer
Evolutions and Carisma GTs have made a strong start to
the Rally of Argentina, the seventh round of the 1998
World Rally Championship, with World Champion Tommi
Makinen in a close second place and British Carisma
driver Richard Burns just seconds behind in sixth place.
As the only World Championship rally in South America,
the Rally of Argentina generates massive interest across
the continent and fans packed the super special just
outside Cordoba in their tens of thousands to witness the
thrilling spectacle of three cars competing side by side
on a specially designed track. Indeed, a large crowd had
gathered on a warm, sunlit day hours before the stage was
due to start.
Double World Champion Makinen, co-driven by fellow-Finn
Risto Mannisenmaki, made good use of his Michelin tyres
to settle into second place behind Colin McRae in his
Subaru. Mere seconds divide the leading drivers, with
Ford driver Juha Kankkunen and Toyotas Carlos Sainz
very much in the running. Makinen has a formidable record
in Argentina, winning both his previous attempts and he
is confident that the latest version of the Lancer
Evolution will be in its element on the demanding
mountain roads of central Argentina.
Everything is OK. The first stage was not so long
and tomorrow will be very different. The car is much like
the previous Lancer, but the engine is better and we have
new suspension, which makes it a bit more stable on fast
roads. Normally this rally seems to be good for me, so I
am looking forward to the rest of it, Makinen said.
British crew Richard Burns and Robert Reid did light
damage to the front of their Carisma GT on a bad bump,
but still recorded a fine stage time. Like his team-mate,
Burns is sure that the rally will suit his Mitsubishi.
Were in good shape for this event. We had a
useful test before the start which confirmed the things
wed learnt in Spain with the new Carisma GT. This
is my third time on this rally and Im hoping to be
in a position to win. Tommi has always gone well on this
rally, Ive got the same car as he has, so it should
be possible for me to do as well, stated Burns.
Were in a good position, but one stage
doesnt prove a great deal, commented Team
Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short. The
car works well here and the drivers work well here, but
this season has been very unpredictable. I feel we are
coming to a crucial part of the championship. If somebody
has an advantage with the car or the tyres, its
going to show. I think this rally is going to be sorted
out in leg two. Theyre the most difficult and the
Mitsubishi has also made a fine start in the Group N
production car class, in which the Lancer and Carisma GT
traditionally excel. Uruguays double Group N World
Champion Gustavo Trelles grabbed the lead at once over
championship leader Manfred Stohl from Austria.
Mitsubishis are the most popular choice of car in the
rally and there are no fewer than 14 entered in the Group
N class, with drivers from as far afield as Poland, Oman
and Paraguay. Private drivers know that the
Mitsubishis combination of performance and strength
The rally re-starts tomorrow morning with another
spectator stage on the edge of Cordoba, followed by a
further seven stages in a loop to the north of the town.
Competitors will have attempted 130 kilometres flat out
before the rest halt on Thursday evening.
CLASSIFICATION AFTER SS 1
B=Belgium/ E=Spain/ F=France/
FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ I=Italia/
PY=Paraguay/ P=Poland/ RA=Argentina/