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1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 3
SAFARI RALLY KENYA (27 FEB.-2 MARCH)


SAFARI RALLY KENYA ‘98
Saturday 28, February
COMMUNIQUE N 2


TEAM MITSUBISHI LANCER AND CARISMA GT TAKE CONTROL
ON SAFARI RALLY KENYA


Team Mitsubishi Ralliart’s Lancer Evolution and Carisma GT have dominated the first day of the Safari Rally Kenya, the third round of the 1998 World Rally Championship, holding first and second places from the start. World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen has led most of the way, with strong support from early leader Richard Burns.

The Safari has been every bit as demanding as crews feared. Dry, hot conditions have meant that there has been plenty of dust and the sun has baked the roads rock-hard. No round of the World Rally Championship inflicts such punishment on the cars and, while the drivers sweat on competitive sections that are each as long on national rallies in other parts of the world, the mechanics work just as hard in service areas as they replace worn suspension parts and check for bodywork damage. Punctures are an ever-present risk, but have not been a problem for the Mitsubishi drivers running on Michelin. As Kenya’s biggest sporting event, the Safari has attracted its usual large crowds: entire villages line the verge to steal a glimpse of the cars and spectators are to be found even in the remotest areas as the route crossed the vast plains to the south and west of Nairobi. With 340 kilometres of flat-out driving, the first day of the Safari alone was almost as long as an entire World Championship rally in other parts of the world.

Flying Finn Makinen and co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki were delighted with progress during the first leg as they rocketed to the head of the field, leaving opponents from Toyota, Subaru and Ford struggling to keep up. While Toyota driver Carlos Sainz lost time with steering trouble and team-mate Didier Auriol had electrical trouble before rolling at low speed, Colin McRae got two punctures in his Subaru and team-mate Piero Liatti hit suspension problems.

Makinen admits that he is setting a furious pace, but it is a tribute to Team Mitsubishi Ralliart engineering that he can drive at speeds that would have been unimaginable on the Safari even five years ago. He ran first on the road for most of the day and lost a little time slowing down for cows and donkeys – the sort of hazard that is all part of the Safari’s challenge. He also cracked the windscreen when he clipped a tree branch on the inside of a corner.

“I took the rough places quite carefully. If you go any faster it would be a big risk. We have had one or two little mistakes, but still it is quite a good lead. There is a long way to go of course and tomorrow will be really hard,” said Makinen.


British crew Richard Burns and Robert Reid took the lead on the first section at Ngong Racecourse and Burns proved that it was no fluke by consolidating second place, only 36 seconds behind Makinen, for the rest of a hard but rewarding day at the wheel of his Carisma.

“We’ve driven at a fairly hard pace and the car’s been pretty good. We’ve tried to be careful in the rough places, but it’s still a punishing rally for the driver, never mind the car!” Burns reported.

“Naturally, to be first and second at the end of the first day is very satisfying, especially as it’s been quite a tough day. The cars have been reliable and they’re in good shape. Both drivers are looking after the cars and tyres,” stated Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short. “I have a feeling that the rally hasn’t really come to a head yet. That will happen tomorrow, when we have some long and demanding sections. It’s going to be hard work in every respect.”


Mitsubishi has taken an early lead in the Group N category - the ultimate test of a production car because so few modifications are permitted - thanks to Spaniard Luis Climent in his Lancer Evolution.

The second leg of the rally on Sunday is comfortably the longest, with more than 700 kilometres to be completed in a long loop between Nairobi and the north-western town of Eldoret. The five competitive sections total 378 kilometres, none of them shorter than 60 kilometres.

 

 

 

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION END OF LEG 1

1.T.MAKINEN/R.MANNISENMAKI FIN/FIN MITSUBISHI LANCER 2.48.04 Gr-A
2.R.BURNS/R.REID GB/GB MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 2.48.40 Gr-A
3.C.MCRAE/N.GRIST GB/GB SUBARU IMPREZA 2.50.22 Gr-A
4.C.SAINZ/L.MOYA E/E TOYOTA COROLLA 2.53.26 Gr-A
5.A.VATANEN/F.GALLAGHER FIN/GB FORD ESCORT 2.54.07 Gr-A
6.J.KANKKUNEN /J.REPO FIN/FIN FORD ESCORT 2.54.25 Gr-A
7.D.AURIOL/D.GIRAUDET F/F TOYOTA COROLLA 2.55.54 Gr-A
8.P.LIATTI/F.PONS I/I SUBARU IMPREZA 3.00.43 Gr-A
9.E.KATTO/F.GITAU EAU/EAK TOYOTA CELICA 3.17.10 Gr-A
10.H.ROVANPERA/V.SILANDER FIN/FIN SEAT IBIZA 3.31.44 Gr-A
13.L.CLIMENT/A.ROMANI E/E MITSUBISHI LANCER 3.38.52 1stGr-N
Nationality:
A=Austria/ AUS=Australia/ AND=Andorra/ E=Spain/ CZ=Czech Republic/ D=Germany/ EAK=Kenya/ EAU=Uganda/ 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 1998 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.