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


Tuesday, 20 January
LEG 2 - 626,83 km - 6 SS - 148,01 km
COMMUNIQUE N 3


TEAM MITSUBISHI RALLIART RUNS STRONGLY ON
MONTE CARLO RALLY


Team Mitsubishi Ralliart looks set for a good result on the Monte Carlo Rally, the first round of the 1998 World Rally Championship, thanks to a strong performance from British driver Richard Burns, who holds third place in his Carisma GT. Burns is keeping Mitsubishi at the forefront after overnight leader Tommi Makinen crashed.

Competitors have faced exceptionally tough conditions as a band of snow, driven by a bitterly cold wind, crossed the Alps. The early morning stages were caked in snow and ice as the temperature plunged well below freezing. It did nothing to deter the thousands of spectators, for the Monte Carlo Rally has an atmosphere all of its own. Towns and villages welcome a world-famous event that puts them in the spotlight for a few hours and every popular vantage point has stalls selling sandwiches and vin chaud. The Monte Carlo is an international festival, a spectacle that captures the imagination just as much as it did when first held in 1911.

Burns and co-driver Robert Reid exploited Michelin’s superb ice and snow tyres to rocket into third position in the morning,
on some of the most testing stages in the world. It was a stern test of Burns’s ability, but his impressive turn of speed in all conditions was equally clear proof that the Mitsubishi Carisma is ideally suited to all kinds of road surfaces, no matter how bad the weather. Burns continued to hold his own when the roads turned dry in the afternoon, matching far more experienced competitors. As usual, his Carisma GT was totally reliable.

“It’s never going to be an easy rally and I’m still new to most of these stages, so I’m quite happy to be doing well on most of them. I’m driving quite quickly when the surface is good, but I’m not taking any chances,” Burns declared. “The car is really good on dry asphalt and I think any of the top six could still win.”

Sadly, World Rally Champion Makinen and fellow Finn Risto Maanisenmaki lost their commanding lead on the first stage of the morning when they slid off the road on a fast bend covered in ice. The strength of their Mitsubishi Lancer ensured that they escaped injury and Makinen was quick to admit that he had made a tiny misjudgement. He had nevertheless proved that the Mitsubishi was quite capable of setting the pace against top-level opposition.

“Richard Burns has continued to impress with a very sensible, mature drive. He’s held his own and done a far better job than anyone had any right to expect,” said Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short. “The top five cars are all very close and still anything can happen. “Obviously, we were disappointed to lose Tommi on the first stage this morning. He was caught out by a tricky left and right, but he showed that we are certainly capable of winning the rally.”

Uwe Nittel of Germany and Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner have climbed the field steadily, in spite of a spectacular spin on the most treacherous stage of the rally, Sisteron-Thoard, to hold seventh place in their Carisma GT.


“It is getting better all the time. I am finding out about the car and the Michelin tyres, and I feel we can get really good results this year,” enthused Nittel.

Mitsubishi looks set for another clean sweep of Group N, the production category, with only one day of the rally to run. Manfred Stohl of Austria leads the way, with three more Lancer Evolutions in the top four places. Even in the toughest conditions, the near-showroom specification Lancer is capable of beating much more highly modified cars.

The final leg is the shortest of the rally and includes five stages, but it won’t be easy. Competitors face another 91 kilometres of flat-out driving, including one of the longest stages of the rally.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION END OF LEG 2

1.C.SAINZ/L.MOYA E/E TOYOTA COROLLA 3.22.10.20 Gr-A
2.J.KANKKUNEN /J.REPO FIN/FIN FORD ESCORT 3.23.05.50 Gr-A
3.R.BURNS/R.REID GB/GB MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 3.24.09.00 Gr-A
4.C.MCRAE/N.GRIST GB/GB SUBARU IMPREZA 3.24.15.80 Gr-A
5.P.LIATTI/F.PONS I/I SUBARU IMPREZA 3.24.17.50 Gr-A
6.B.THIRY/S.PREVOT F/F FORD ESCORT 3.24.27.00 Gr-A
7.U.NITTEL/T.THORNER G/S MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 3.28.11.60 Gr-A
8.A.KREMER/K.WICHA D/D SUBARU IMPREZA 3.10.21.10 Gr-A
9. G.PANIZZI/H.PANIZZI F/F PEUGEOT 306 MAXI 3.10.27.00 Gr-A
10.H.ROVANPERA/V.SILANDER D/D SEAT IBIZA 3.14.24.00 Gr-A

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/



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


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Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.