Rallye de France - 42nd Tour de Corse (4-6 May)
1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 6

 


1998 RALLYE DE FRANCE - TOUR DE CORSE
Sunday 3rd May
COMMUNIQUE N 1



MITSUBISHI AIMS TO INCREASE WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS LEAD

IN TOUR DE CORSE WITH LANCER AND CARISMA GT


Team Mitsubishi Ralliart is hoping to extend its lead in the World Rally Championship for Manufacturers on the sixth round of the 1998 series, the Tour de Corse. It has entered a formidable team, consisting of World Rally Champion and winner of the second round, the Swedish Rally, Tommi Makinen, driving a Lancer Evolution, and Safari Rally winner Richard Burns in a Carisma GT.

The Tour de Corse – the French round of the World Rally Championship – has a daunting reputation. The ultra-twisty roads of the mountainous Mediterranean island make it the toughest asphalt rally in the world. The relentless corners and high g-forces mean that it is not only physically demanding for the drivers and co-drivers, but also make experience vital. In 41 years, it has been won just eight times by non-French drivers and, as Makinen is Finnish and Burns is British, that would make a Mitsubishi victory an even greater achievement. This year’s rally promises to be particularly difficult. It makes a welcome return to north-eastern Corsica, to classic rally roads not used since 1995 and it will require a special mixture of skill and judgement, as rain is forecast for the first morning of the rally, which will make tyre choice even more important than usual. However, Mitsubishi’s relationship with partner Michelin means it has a range of tyres to suit all conditions. Team Mitsubishi Ralliart faces considerable opposition, not just from four-wheel-drive teams such as Toyota, Subaru and Ford, but from the French two-wheel-drive contenders, Citroen and Peugeot. It promises to be every bit as demanding as the Catalunya Rally a fortnight ago.


Makinen has finished the rally only once before, but proved that both he and the Lancer Evolution are fully competitive on this specialised event by running with the leaders last year. Armed with the latest version of the Lancer Evolution, the Finn and co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki rate their chances of success highly after a useful pre-rally test that proved the worth of the latest Michelin tyres.

“I have to say the car is really good. There has been a very short time since our last rally and we have not had much time to try new things, but we had a good test yesterday. I believe the team and the car are going forward and we can have a good rally,” Makinen stated.

While Makinen, a double World Champion with Mitsubishi, must always be regarded as a potential winner, British team-mate Richard Burns, who holds second place in the World Championship, is making his first attempt at the rally. Co-driven by Robert Reid, Burns knows that gaining experience of the stages is his main priority.

“I’ll be happy to get as many points as I can here, because this is a very difficult rally when I’m not necessarily expecting to do well. I don’t really know what to expect on my first time here, so I will take the same approach as I did to the Monte Carlo and Swedish Rallies,” Burns revealed. “I’ve changed the suspension a little bit and I feel very comfortable with the Carisma.”

“This is not our strongest rally of the year, but having said that, I’m confident that we will pick up some points,” declared Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short. “Neither of our drivers can be considered Corsican experts. Tommi has only finished here once and doesn’t have a lot of experience of the event. Richard has none apart from the recce.
However, testing indicates that the car should be good. It rides the bumps well and it’s putting the power down well.”

Mitsubishi is also strongly represented in the Group N production car class. Lancer Evolutions and Carisma GTs have set standards of performance and reliability that other manufacturers struggle to match, to the extent that the top 12 seeds in Group N all drive Mitsubishis! Double World Champion Gustavo Trelles is putting his faith in Mitsubishi once again and is the favourite, but he faces a stern battle with Spanish star Luis Climent and Austria’s Manfred Stohl, not to mention local heroes such as Jean-Marie Santoni and Jacques Andreani. Mitsubishis are the most popular choice, with 12 runners amongst the 36 entries in Group N.


The three-day rally starts on Monday morning and covers 1145 kilometres. The first leg includes six special stages in a compact loop east and south of Ajaccio, with 134 kilometres of flat-out driving before the overnight rest halt.

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

 

 

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Copyright 1998 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.