1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 5
Rallye MoviStar Catalunya-Costa Brava
Rallye de Espana (20 - 22 April)

 



1998 RALLYE CATALUNYA-COSTA BRAVA
Monday 20th April
LEG 1 - 365.48 km - 7 SS 121.53 km
COMMUNIQUE N 2


NEW MITSUBISHI LANCER AND CARISMA MAKE STRONG START
TO CATALUNYA RALLY


Team Mitsubishi Ralliart has made a promising start to the Catalunya Rally, the fifth round of the 1998 World Rally Championship. The latest version of the Lancer Evolution and the Carisma GT has performed well on its first day in competition and drivers Richard Burns, Tommi Makinen and Uwe Nittel are fighting hard to extend Mitsubishi’s lead in the battle for the manufacturers’ championship.

No fewer than nine factory teams have entered cars for the event, the first all-asphalt rally of the World Championship season, and huge crowds have flocked to the stages to witness the action. Tens of thousands of people have attended the best vantage points, finding their way up tiny tracks to park their cars, or walking for kilometres up the winding mountain passes of Catalunya. The atmosphere is electrifying: the fans greet every car by cheering and sounding klaxons as they urge on their favourites. Warm, sunny weather has provided ideal conditions for driving, as the times prove: mere fractions of seconds split the top contenders.

British star Burns, co-driven by Robert Reid, has driven superbly to hold second place in the opening stages, before dropping to fifth position, swapping seconds with the lightweight two-wheel-drive cars, which are highly competitive on dry asphalt roads that provide good grip. Making good use of his Michelin tyres, he has been amongst the leaders from the start in his Carisma GT and looks to have a good chance of improving on his third place in the World Championship. Only a fourth-gear spin on the sixth stage has marred an otherwise faultless performance.

“I didn’t expect to be so fast on the first few stages, so that was a nice feeling. I think it shows we’ve made real improvements to the car,” Burns said. “We’re all trying pretty hard. I’m just driving in my usual style, trying to be smooth, which seems to suit the new car.”


Double World Champion Tommi Makinen and fellow Finn Risto Mannisenmaki have speeded up after a cautious start in their new Lancer Evolution. Once he had adjusted the suspension after the first two stages, Makinen was much happier with the handling and he has since made good use of the latest Mitsubishi’s improved roadholding and more responsive engine. He admitted that he has not always chosen the correct Michelin tyres for the conditions, but he is confident that he can match anyone when he makes the right choice. He held ninth place after the first leg, but only a handful of seconds divide the leading cars and he remains very much in contention.

“Maybe we were trying a bit too hard on that last stage, but the car is good and the differences between the cars are very small. I think we can improve tomorrow,” Makinen stated.

Uwe Nittel of Germany and Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner made a flying start in their Carisma GT, even beating Makinen on some stages. Nittel was delighted with the car and his stage times, but disappointed to lose 15 seconds when he spun on the sixth stage, which was particularly slippery.

“It was a good day. I have a good feeling about the Carisma and I hope we can do even better tomorrow,” Nittel said.

“It’s been a satisfactory day. The new Lancer and Carisma have been reliable on their first day in competition. Richard has set some very competitive times and Tommi is also very much in touch with the leaders. I think we’re in good shape to make a push for the second leg. There is supposed to be some rain coming, but in any case, the stages are abrasive, which should suit four-wheel-drive,” reported Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short and Team Manager Ingolf Raiss added :“Uwe has been driving very well and against such strong opposition, we are very pleased with our position” .

Mitsubishi has taken control of the Group N category, the class for near-standard production cars. Gustavo Trelles, the double World Champion and acknowledged master of Group N, has built up a useful lead in his new Lancer Evolution, with Austrian Manfred Stohl in second place in his Carisma GT and Gabriel Mendez, who comes from Uruguay, like Trelles in fourth place in his Lancer.

The second leg is the longest and probably the toughest of the rally. It takes competitors west of Barcelona, to the fast, abrasive stages around Tarragona. They face six long stages, including the daunting 45 kilometres of La Figuera, the longest stage of the rally, in a total competitive distance of 172 kilometres.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION END OF LEG 1

1. D.AURIOL/D.GIRAUDET F/F TOYOTA COROLLA 1.19.03.8 Gr-A
2.J.PURAS/C.DEL BARRIO E/E CITROEN XSARA 1.19.20.6 Gr-A
3.B.THIRY/S.PREVOT B/B FORD ESCORT 1.19.25.1 Gr-A
4.G.PANIZZI/H.PANIZZI F/F PEUGEOT 306 MAXI 1.19.26.7 Gr-A
5.R.BURNS/R.REID GB/GB MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 1.19.30.3 Gr-A
6.P.BUGALSKI/JP.CHIARONI F/F CITROEN XSARA 1.19.34.0 Gr-A
7.F.LOIX/S.SMEETS B/B TOYOTA COROLLA 1.19.40.9 Gr-A
8.C.SAINZ/L.MOYA E/E TOYOTA COROLLA 1.19.48.0 Gr-A
9.T.MAKINEN/R.MANNISENMAKI FIN/FIN MITSUBISHI LANCER 1.19.51.9 Gr-A
10.C.MCRAE/N;GRIST GB/GB SUBARU IMPREZA 1.20.04.8 Gr-A
13.U.NITTEL/T.THORNER D/S MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 1.20.16.6 Gr-A
28.G.TRELLES/M.CHRISTIE ROU/RA MITSUBISHI LANCER 1.25.16.9 Gr-N
Nationality:
A=Austria/ AUS=Australia/ AND=Andorra/ E=Spain/ CZ=Czech Republic/ D=Germany/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ GR=Greece/ J=Japan/ MAL=Malaysia/ NZ=New Zealand// RA=Argentine/ RI=Indonesia/ ROU=Uruguay/ S=Sweden/ T=Thailand/

-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.