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


TEAM MITSUBISHI RALLIART AIMS FOR
MONTE CARLO RALLY SUCCESS



For the 1998 season's opening event, the Monte Carlo Rally, Team Mitsubishi Ralliart will enter 1996 and 1997 repeat World Champion Tommi Makinen, along with British coming star Richard Burns and Germany's Uwe Nittel.

In the 1997 season Makinen and his Lancer Evolution fought magnificently right down to the last event and in the end he became only the third driver in the WRC history to take the Driver's Title for two years running! To acheive this, Tommi had the full backing and support of the Mitsubishi Motor Corporation and Team Ralliart Europe and this wonderful result also shows the excellence of the design of the Lancer Evolution.

In 1998 with the wellcome return of Toyota to full WRC participation, Team Mitsubishi Ralliart will face the full force of three other big works teams all competing at full strength. This will mean an even more tough battle than last year, but building on the experience gained during the successful campaigns fought during 1996 and 1997 the team is looking forward to the challenge of winning again in the coming season.

The Monte - one of the few major events on the calendar that Team Mitsubishi Ralliart has yet to win - is the rally on which every team wants to succeed. First run in 1911, it is the most famous rally in the world, a legendary test of man and machine. Crowds flock to renowned stages like the Col de Turini and Sisteron from all parts of Europe. While most of the hundreds of thousands lining the route will be French, many of the spectators will be Italians and Germans, Belgians and Spaniards, each cheering on their own favourites. Good-natured snowball fights will break out between rival fans on the highest cols, while bars and restaurants will be packed as this great winter spectacle snakes across south-eastern France.

In good weather, dry, twisty asphalt passes require power and grip, but bad weather can mean that cars and crews must be ready to cope with deep snow. Often, conditions fall somewhere in between, mixing snow, ice and asphalt. Choosing and making best use of his tyres is the supreme test of a driver's adaptability and tactical skill. Mitsubishi is well-served in this respect by Michelin, the winner of seven of the last 10 Monte Carlo Rallies. No fewer than 11 types of tyre will be available to the Mitsubishi drivers.

Flying Finn Makinen, fully recovered from the pneumonia he had over the off-season break, can hardly wait to get back into action. He led much of the 1997 Monte Carlo Rally and proved that the Lancer Evolution is just as capable of coping with dry asphalt rally as mud and snow by winning the all-asphalt Catalunya Rally last April. It will be a fresh start in more ways than one, for he has a new co-driver, Risto Maanisenmaki. Equipped with the latest Mitsubishi, they stand an excellent chance of becoming the first Finns to win the rally since 1986.

"I think in some ways it was actually a good thing to be ill, because I have had a long holiday," said Makinen. "I would like to win, but of course it will not be easy. It is always hard to tell who will be best at the beginning of the season, especially in Monte Carlo, where you never know what the weather is going to be like. I prefer it if it is completely dry - but I think the Mitsubishi is good in all conditions."

Makinen's team-mates, Richard Burns and Robert Reid, have never contested the Monte and know that the combination of unfamiliar stages and potentially awkward weather conditions make it one of their toughest tests of the season. However, Burns has complete faith in the strength and reliability of his Carisma GT and is sure that he can gain a good result.

"I think that the Monte Carlo will be one of the two most difficult rallies for me this year, not so much because of the roads, but because the weather can vary so much and I haven't driven on studded tyres as much as some of the other drivers. I still think we can do well, because it's the sort of rally where it pays to stay out of trouble and the Mitsubishi will be good," Burns declared.

Uwe Nittel and Tina Thorner have a great chance to build on the experience gained in 1997, for they have a fully factory prepared rally specification Carisma GT and the same Michelin tyres, as Makinen and Burns.

"I have tested this car for two days and it is really good. I'm so pleased to be back in Monte-Carlo with a new Carisma GT, just like Richard Burns'," said Nittel. "This is the next step for us and for Uwe," said Ingolf Raiss, German Team Manager of Team Mitsubishi Ralliart. "We must progress continuously, step by step. When Uwe gets a feel for this car I am sure he and Tina can achieve a good result."

"It's a very unpredictable event, because of the weather, but we were very pleased with our testing in December, in that we managed to be in the right place and time to experience the full gamut of weather conditions, from metre and a half-deep snow to dry tar. We're doing a small confirmation test with Tommi as well, as he could not test before Christmas," said Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short. "Mitsubishi's performances on our last two visits have been good. We think we have an excellent chance of winning the rally for the first time.

The 1998 Monte Carlo Rally is the most southerly yet. A shorter, more concentrated route leaves out of the famous stages in the Ardeche and doesn't go north of Gap in the Hautes-Alpes. There are still plenty of long, tough stages though and ample scope for snow and ice around Gap itself. There are 349 kilometres of stages in total, of which 118 are in the first leg, 149 in the second (including the longest stage of the rally) and 81 in the final loop through the Alpes-Maritimes. No fewer than five of the 18 stages exceed 25 kilometres in length, making it the perfect start for what promises to be another gruelling season of World Championship rallying.



66th MONTE CARLO RALLY

ITINERARY
19th January,1998
1st LEG : MONACO - GAP (473,72 km)
07.50Start from Monaco
SS1Luceram - Peira Cava9,65 km
SS2Piera Cava - La Bollene Vesubie16,70 km
SS3Lambruisse - Clumanca15,00 km
SS4Chaudon Norante19,53 km
SS5L'Epine - Rosans31,15 km
SS6Les Savoyons - Sigoyer27,56 km
19.17Arrival in Gap
20th January,1998
2nd LEG : GAP - MONACO (626,23 km)
07.15Start from Gap
SS7Bif. C1/D1 - Bayons22,55 km
SS8Sisteron - Thoard36,72 km
SS9Entrevaux - Saint Pierre29,71 km
SS10Toudon - Saint Antonin20,71 km
SS11Saint Jean de la Riviere - Levens11,97 km
SS12Luceram - Peira Cava9,65 km
SS13Peira Cava - La Bollene Vesubie16,70 km
22.02Arrival in Monaco
06.00Start from Perth
21st January,1998
3rd LEG : MONACO - MONACO (356,89 km)
06.00Start from Monaco
SS14Luceram - Peira Cava9,65 km
SS15Peira Cava - La Bollene Vesubie16,70 km
SS16Saint Jean de la Riviere - Levens11,97 km
SS17Toudon - Saint Antonin20,71 km
SS18Les 4 Chemins - Bif. D10/D1732,56 km
14.21Final of the Rally



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Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.