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1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 4
TAP RALLYE DE PORTUGAL (22 - 25 MARCH)

1998 TAP RALLYE DE PORTUGAL
Tuesday 24, March
Leg 2 - 556,32kms- 10SS - 144,94kms
COMMUNIQUE N 3

MITSUBISHI LANCER AND CARISMA BATTLE HARD
ON RALLY OF PORTUGAL

 

Mitsubishi Carisma’s driver Richard Burns has run as high as third place during the second leg of the Rally of Portugal, the fourth round of the World Rally Championship, in his Carisma GT and is well-placed to improve on his overnight fourth position during the final leg of the rally. And once again Mitsubishi has dominated the Group N production category with double World Group N Champion Gustavo Trelles in his Lancer Evolution.

Hot spring sunshine has brought out spectators in their tens of thousands to witness an enthralling duel for one of Europe's most difficult rallies. Rough, demanding stages mean that reliability is vital and serious problems have afflicted many of the world's leading drivers on what was reckoned to be the hardest day of the event. The Portuguese – mingled with many Spanish fans – adore the rally, lining the roads in the smallest villages as the cars race along the narrow, bumpy roads that wind their way across the hilly countryside of central Portugal.

Colin McRae , Subaru, is still leading the Rally tonight, with the Toyotas of Freddy Loix and Carlos Sainz in second and third positions. But French driver Didier Auriol on the third Toyota was forced to retire with transmission problems.

Burns proved the worth of the Carisma GT and his Michelin tyres with a couple of fastest special stage times in the morning, leaping from sixth place after the first leg to third. Mere tenths of seconds divided four drivers as they battled for second place and the red-headed Englishman, co-driven by Robert Reid, lost a little time in the afternoon on stages he barely knew. Team Mitsubishi Ralliart remains confident, for the car is running well and the pace is taking its toll of the team's rivals.

"I'm doing my best, apart from the long stage, where I made a mistake and slid wide on a hairpin," said Burns. "Carlos Sainz and Juha Kankkunen know these stages like the back of their hands and I'm a lot quicker than I was in 1995! Fourth on the road is a good place to be and it's going to be quite a battlein final leg on Wednesday."

Double World Champion Tommi Makinen and co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki made an electrifying start to the second leg with fastest time, but a tiny error of judgement caused them to leave the road on the stage12th, causing too much damage to continue and ending the Finnish star's hopes of a second consecutive Portuguese win for Mitsubishi in his Lancer Evolution.



"It was just bad luck. We went a little bit wide and hit a tree and the damage was too much even for a strong car like the Lancer," Makinen explained.

German driver Uwe Nittel was also out of luck. The stages have been incredibly rough in places, especially when used twice and he was unlucky to hit a huge rock that damaged the engin mount of his Carisma GT and led to his retirement.

"It's a shame, because we were going well. Some of these stages are much too rough to be used twice," he commented sadly.


"Richard has taken up the challenge very well today and put in some fastest times this morning. The trouble is that some of the stages are unfamiliar to him and are known to the drivers around him. However, he's only a few seconds behind Sainz and there's a lot of pressure up front. Anything can still happen," said Team Manager Phil Short.

"Uwe was very unlucky. The rock did just too much damage to be repaired quickly, but it was a useful learning experience for the future," said Team Manager Ingolf Raiss.

Mitsubishi Lancer and Carisma have dominated top four of the Group N production category and in such demanding conditions, the experience of double World Group N Champion Gustavo Trelles has told, the Uruguayan driver taking a good lead .

The last leg is the shortest, but its eight stages are some of the roughest and most difficult in the rally. A good deal of extra drama can be expected before the finish on Wednesday afternoon.

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OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER LEG 2

 

1.C.MCRAE/N.GRIST GB/GB SUBARU IMPREZA 3.11.26.2 Gr-A
2.F.LOIX/S.SMEETS B/B TOYOTA COROLLA 3.11.37.5 Gr-A
3.C.SAINZ/L.MOYA E/E TOYOTA COROLLA 3.11.54.0 Gr-A
4.R.BURNS/R.REID GB/GB MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 3.12.01.2 Gr-A
5.A.VATANEN/F.GALLAGHER SF/GB FORD ESCORT 3.13.55.8 Gr-A
6.P.LIATTI/F.PONS I/I SUBARU IMPREZA 3.14.03.0 Gr-A
7.J.KANKKUNEN/J.REPO FIN/FIN FORD ESCORT 3.15.07.6 Gr-A
8.G.DE MEVIUS/JM.FORTIN B/B SUBARU IMPREZA 3.15.51.6 Gr-A
9.R.MADEIRA/N.DA SILVA P/P TOYOTA CELICA 3.19.04.7 Gr-A
10.K.HOLOWCZYC/M.WISLAWSKI PL/PL SUBARU IMPREZA 3.3.19.37.5 Gr-A
...        
16.G.TRELLES/M.CHRISTIE ROU/RA MITSUBISHI LANCER 3.30.30.2 1st Gr-N
17.M.STOHL/P.MULLER A/A MITSUBISHI LANCER 3.30.49.8 2nd Gr-N
19.M.CAMPOS/C.MAGALHAES P/P MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 3.36.32.3 3rd Gr-N
20.L.CLIMENT/A.ROMANI E/E MITSUBISHI LANCER 3.39.07.4 4th Gr-N

COMMUNIQUE 1

COMMUNIQUE 2


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

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Copyright 1998 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.