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1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1
MONTE CARLO RALLY (18-21 JAN)


Wednesday, 21 January
LEG 3 - 356,89 km - 5 SS - 91,59 km
COMMUNIQUE N 4


VICTORY IN GROUP N WITH MITSUBISHI LANCERS AND ENCOURAGING FIFTH AND SEVENTH PLACES ON MONTE CARLO RALLY


Team Mitsubishi Ralliart made a promising start to the 1998 World Rally Championship season, taking an excellent fifth place on the Monte Carlo Rally thanks to British driver Richard Burns in his Carisma GT. Mitsubishi also dominated the Group N production class, with Austrian Manfred Stohl leading home a Mitsubishi Lancer parade.

The Monte Carlo Rally is renowned for its unpredictability and the character of the rally changed again for the final leg. Clear skies meant that the snow and ice had almost disappeared and, on classic stages in the Alpes-Maritimes, within a few kilometres of the Mediterranean sea, the event turned into a race - but in sub-zero temperatures. The speeds are much higher and the spectacle is awesome, for the drivers need centimetre-perfect judgement as they thread their way along narrow, winding roads that are often bordered by steep drops.

Burns and co-driver Robert Reid started the final leg of the rally in third place, but a mere handful of seconds divided third place and sixth, and Burns, on his very first Monte Carlo Rally, had nothing like the experience of his rivals. He made full use of the performance of his Carisma GT and its Michelin tyres to take the battle for third to the final, 33-kilometre stage. He pulled away from Bruno Thiry's Ford, but prudently settled for fifth when he realised that he could not catch Colin McRae and former Monte Carlo winner Piero Liatti.
It was nevertheless a convincing display that proved that Mitsubishi and Burns will be strong contenders in this year's World Championship.

"I would have been quite happy if you told me I was going to come third before the start. I think everyone at Mitsubishi is pleased: after a rally like this, we've proved that we can be competitive in any conditions," said Burns.

"Richard has excelled again. He's shown that he can cope with responsibility and pressure and we're delighted with his result," stated Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Director Andrew Cowan. "We're also very heartened by the performance of the car. Both Richard and Tommi Makinen proved that it is still highly competitive against the 1998 cars and that gives us plenty of confidence for the future."

Uwe Nittel of Germany made an equalling promising start to 1998 in his Carisma GT. Co-driven by Sweden's Tina Thorner, he soon acclimatised on his first rally in a Group A Carisma and a string of encouraging stage times enabled him to finish in seventh place. Like Burns, it boosted his morale for the rest of what promises to be an intensely competitive season.

"This was the hardest Monte Carlo Rally I have done, with so much snow and ice. I am pleased with the result. The car has been very good all through the rally and we have had no problems at all," Nittel commented.

"Uwe has given a great performance. The World Championship is very competitive and you have to improve step by step - but with Mitsubishi, we can do this," said Team Manager Ingolf Raiss.

Sadly, Mitsubishi's double World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen failed to finish. After building up a commanding lead, the Finn was unlucky to slide off the road on a patch of ice.

Manfred Stohl dominated the Group N class for near-production cars, building up a three-minute lead in the first leg alone, but there was never any likelihood of Mitsubishi being beaten, even if Stohl failed to finish. The power and strength of the Lancer Evolution is simply too much for any other showroom car and Lancer drivers therefore took the top four places in the group - an amazing result in a such a demanding event.

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart will be in action once more in little more than two weeks, when it contests the second round of the World Rally Championship, the Swedish Rally.

FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

1.C.SAINZ/L.MOYA E/E TOYOTA COROLLA 4.28.00.50 Gr-A
2.J.KANKKUNEN /J.REPO FIN/FIN FORD ESCORT 4.28.41.30 Gr-A
3.C.MCRAE/N.GRIST GB/GB SUBARU IMPREZA 4.29.01.50 Gr-A
4.P.LIATTI/F.PONS I/I SUBARU IMPREZA 4.29.13.50 Gr-A
5.R.BURNS/R.REID GB/GB MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 4.29.23.20 Gr-A
6.B.THIRY/S.PREVOT F/F FORD ESCORT 4.30.20.90 Gr-A
7.U.NITTEL/T.THORNER G/S MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 4.34.21.30 Gr-A
8.A.KREMER/K.WICHA D/D SUBARU IMPREZA 4.37.40.10 Gr-A
9. G.PANIZZI/H.PANIZZI F/F PEUGEOT 306 MAXI 4.39.24.00 Gr-A
10.F.DELECOUR/D.GRATALOUP F/F PEUGEOT 306 MAXI 4.40.02.20 Gr-A


Group N winners :

15.M.STOHL/P.MULLER MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.54.20.80 1stGr-N
18.L.CLIMENT/A.ROMANI MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.58.41.40 2ndGr-N
19.C.BARONI/D.SAVIGNONI MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.59.05.30 3rdGr-N
20.M.DUEZ/G.THIMONIER MITSUBISHI LANCER 5.00.05.10 4thGr-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/


1998 RALLYE AUTOMOBILE MONTE-CARLO

STATISTICS



Dates : 18-21 January 1998
Length : 1456.84 kms
Total SS
: 359.19 kms on 18 SS

Starters
: 108 (58 Group A + 50 Group N)

Makes
: Fiat 18, Peugeot 17, Mitsubishi 14, Ford 14, Renault 10, Subaru 8, Opel 5, Citroen 5, Toyota 4, Suzuki 3, Mazda 3, Seat 2, Volkswagen 2, Lancia 1, Honda 1.

Nations (first drivers)
: F 36, I 21, D 16, E 4, B 4, MC 4, FIN 3, GB 3, DK 3, CH 2, A 2, PL 2, N 2, ROU 1, P 1, U 1, GR 1, NL 1, L 1.

Overall winners :

1.C.SAINZ/L.MOYA E/E TOYOTA COROLLA 4.28.00.50 Gr-A
2.J.KANKKUNEN /J.REPO FIN/FIN FORD ESCORT 4.28.41.30 Gr-A
3.C.MCRAE/N.GRIST GB/GB SUBARU IMPREZA 4.29.01.50 Gr-A
4.P.LIATTI/F.PONS I/I SUBARU IMPREZA 4.29.13.50 Gr-A
5.R.BURNS/R.REID GB/GB MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 4.29.23.20 Gr-A
6.B.THIRY/S.PREVOT F/F FORD ESCORT 4.30.20.90 Gr-A
7.U.NITTEL/T.THORNER G/S MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 4.34.21.30 Gr-A
8.A.KREMER/K.WICHA D/D SUBARU IMPREZA 4.37.40.10 Gr-A
9. G.PANIZZI/H.PANIZZI F/F PEUGEOT 306 MAXI 4.39.24.00 Gr-A
10.F.DELECOUR/D.GRATALOUP F/F PEUGEOT 306 MAXI 4.40.02.20 Gr-A


Group N winners :

15.M.STOHL/P.MULLER MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.54.20.80 1stGr-N
18.L.CLIMENT/A.ROMANI MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.58.41.40 2ndGr-N
19.C.BARONI/D.SAVIGNONI MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.59.05.30 3rdGr-N
20.M.DUEZ/G.THIMONIER MITSUBISHI LANCER 5.00.05.10 4thGr-N



Stages winners
: Makinen 4, Auriol 4, Liatti 3, Thiry 2, McRae 2, Kankkunen 1, Panizzi 1,
Sainz 1

Rally leaders
: 1 Auriol, 2-3 Liatti, 4-6 Makinen, 7-18 Sainz

World Championship for Drivers
: Sainz 10, Kankkunen 6, McRae 4, Liatti 3, Burns 2, Thiry 1

World Championship for Manufacturers
: Toyota 10, Ford 7, Subaru 7, Mitsubishi 2

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


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