RALLY OF ARGENTINA(20-23 May)
1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 7

 



1998 RALLY ARGENTINA
Thursday 21 May
LEG 1 - 545,07 km - 9 SS - 130,82 km
COMMUNIQUE N2

MITSUBISHI LANCER LEADS RALLY OF ARGENTINA


Team Mitsubishi Ralliart’s Lancer Evolution and Carisma GT have set the pace in the first leg of the Rally of Argentina, the seventh round of the 1998 World Rally Championship. Finland’s Tommi Makinen, the winner for the past two years, looks to have a strong chance of scoring a third consecutive success after taking the lead on the fourth special stage, while Carisma GT driver Richard Burns is also in the points.

Huge crowds have flocked to the stages of South America’s only World Championship rally. Tens of thousands of fans have lined the road, cheering on their heroes with passionate fervour, oblivious to the heat and dust on a warm, if windy day. The competition this year has been fiercer than ever, as the Mitsubishi drivers have fought for tenths of seconds with rivals from Ford, Toyota and Subaru. Toyota driver Didier Auriol and Subaru man Colin McRae have proved to be Makinen’s most dangerous opponents, but Ford driver Bruno Thiry retired with engine trouble.


Makinen has never been beaten on this event and, aided by co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki, he has done well to force his Lancer Evolution to the head of the field given his unfavourable starting position. Running sixth on the road, he has often had to cope with deep ruts and loose rocks, whereas rivals like Colin McRae have enjoyed better conditions. The Lancer and its Michelin tyres have performed faultlessly though, allowing Makinen to maintain his advantage despite tough opposition.

“Today has been good, but hard. Some of the stages have been in a really bad condition and we have been making small changes to improve the car. It is good to be in front now and I think we are in a good position for leg two,” Makinen said.

British team-mates Richard Burns and Robert Reid have set excellent stage times in their Carisma GT, but have not so far earned the reward their speed merits. They damaged the front of the car on the first stage of the rally and lost 20 seconds making repairs in the service area this morning. Nevertheless, Burns soon caught Subaru driver Piero Liatti to climb into sixth place after the first leg, despite overshooting a junction on special stage 8.

“I didn’t do these stages last year, so my pace notes are all new and hadn’t been tried at full speed before. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and stages I know better,” Burns stated.

“It’s been a very satisfactory day. Tommi has driven really well. He has managed to hold the lead and he has been quickest on three stages. We certainly wanted to be first on the road for the second leg, because of the roughness of the roads. The tyres have worked well and we’re in good shape for the toughest part of the rally,” said Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short. “We had a difficult start to the day, because there were a lot of repairs to do to Richard’s car. It’s a shame he lost time there and again on special stage 8, but he has driven well and he has every chance to improve his position later in the rally.”

Mitsubishi has taken control of the Group N production category thanks to Uruguayan star Gustavo Trelles in his Lancer Evolution, who has managed to force his way into the top 10 overall – a superb performance in a near-showroom specification car in such rough conditions. Mitsubishis have dominated the leaderboard, with Oman’s rising star Hamed Al Wahaibi holding an excellent second position in his Lancer on his first visit to South America.

The second leg tomorrow is perhaps the most testing of the rally, with some of the roughest and highest stages in the World Championship. Competitors will cover another eight stages, making up 137 kilometres, all to the west and north of Cordoba.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION END OF LEG 1

1.T.MAKINEN/R.MANNISENMAKI FIN/FIN MITSUBISHI LANCER 1.32.58.7 Gr-A
2.D.AURIOL/D.GIRAUDET F/F TOYOTA COROLLA 1.33.11.1 Gr-A
3.C.MCRAE/N.GRIST GB/GB SUBARU IMPREZA 1.33.13.6 Gr-A
4.J.KANKKUNEN/J.REPO FIN/FIN FORD ESCORT 1.33.36.6 Gr-A
5.C.SAINZ/L.MOYA E/E TOYOTA COROLLA 1.33.51.0 Gr-A
6.R.BURNS/R.REID GB/GB MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 1.34.14.9 Gr-A
7.P.LIATTI/F.PONS I/I SUBARU IMPREZA 1.34.34.2 Gr-A
8.K.HOLOWCZYK/M.WISLAWSKI PL/PL SUBARU IMPREZA 1.37.14.2 Gr-A
9. M.GALANTI/V.ZUCCHINI PY/RA TOYOTA COROLLA 1.38.58.3 Gr-A
10.G.TRELLES/M.CHRISTIE ROU/RA MITSUBISHI LANCER 1.40.54.9 1st Gr-N
15.H.AL WAHAIBI/T.HARRYMAN OM/GB MITSUBISHI LANCER 1.43.43.0 2nd Gr-N
Nationality :
A=Austria/ E=Spain/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ I=Italia/ OM=Oman/ PY=Paraguay/ PL=Poland/ RA=Argentina/ ROU=Uruguay/ S=Sweden/

Communique 4

Communique 3

Communique 1

MICHELIN - MITSUBISHI OIL - ENKEI - NGK - OHLINS - OMP -
PIAA - PRINGLE OF SCOTLAND - SABELT

 

 

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Copyright 1998 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.