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

SAFARI RALLY KENYA ‘98
Sunday 1, March
LEG 2 - 1095,78 kms - 5 CS 378,29 kms
COMMUNIQUE N 3

MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT EXTENDS LEAD IN
SAFARI RALLY KENYA


Team Mitsubishi Ralliart’s Carisma GT holds a clear lead after the second leg of the Safari Rally Kenya, the third round of the 1998 World Rally Championship. Rising British star Richard Burns and co-driver Robert Reid have a convincing advantage on this exceptionally tough event and look well placed to score their first World Championship rally victory.

The second leg of the Safari was expected to be the toughest of the rally and more than lived up to pre-rally predictions. Competitors faced everything from fast, bone-shaking tracks littered with huge rocks to smooth, twisty roads, sometimes with up to 30 kilometres of hairpins. In a hard, 1095-kilometre loop north of Nairobi, they have descended to 1,000 metres and climbed to almost 3,000, repeatedly crossing the Equator. Bright, merciless sunshine increased the strain on hard-working machinery and competitors had to cope with thick dust in places as well. No other World Championship rally offers such a range of conditions, nor as demanding a challenge and large crowds lined the road back into Nairobi, ready to applaud the weary survivors. The strain proved too great for many competitors, notably the Subaru team, which lost both its cars thanks to engine failure, while Carlos Sainz rolled his Toyota and team-mate Didier Auriol faced water injection problems that cost power. Ford drivers Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen survived the rigours of more than 1000 kilometres to climb to second and fourth positions respectively.

Burns and co-driver Robert Reid drove brilliantly in their Carisma GT to hold off strong opposition from much more experienced opponents and the pressure was redoubled when they took the lead. The pace was ferocious and Burns admitted that he had a narrow escape when he spun on the fourth of the day’s five competitive sections and hit some rocks, but his performance emphasised Mitsubishi superiority as he built up a six-minute lead after two days of hard driving. Despite exceptionally rough roads, he suffered no punctures – a tribute to Mitsubishi’s tyre partner, Michelin.

“I’m under more pressure now obviously and I’m not thinking about the finish. If tomorrow is as trouble-free as the first leg, we should be fine. It was a frustrating start today, because we had one or two little problems, but that’s what the Safari is all about. You can’t get away with anything on this rally,” Burns said.

Makinen and fellow-Finn Risto Mannisenmaki exploited their overnight lead to pull away from the moment the leg started, leaving their rivals to choke in their dust, but it wasn’t an easy day for the World Rally Champion, who was forced to swerve off the road at one point while passing a lorry.
He was nevertheless leading comfortably when an engine problem – practically unheard of at Team Mitsubishi Ralliart – forced him to retire when 12 minutes ahead of the best non-Mitsubishi.

“There was no warning at all. It was incredibly bad luck, but at least we proved that we were the fastest,” Makinen declared.

“As predicted, it has been a very difficult day, but we’re pleased still to be leading the rally. Richard had coped very well in such demanding conditions. Of course we’re conscious that there is still a long day to go tomorrow and Richard is under pressure in view of the fact that he has never won a World Championship rally, but we’re sure he is capable of handling it,” stated Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short. “Obviously we’re disappointed to lose Tommi right at the end of the day when he had a commanding lead.”

Mitsubishi has continued to exert its usual dominance of the Group N
production car category. Lancer Evolution drivers lie first and second in their showroom-type cars, with Spaniard Luis Climent leading Austria’s Manfred Stohl.

The third and final leg takes crews over a near-identical route to the first leg, blasting across the plains south and west of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Another 560 kilometres and six competitive sections stand between weary competitors and the finish of the World Rally Championship’s most gruelling test.

 

 

 

 

 

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION END OF LEG 2

1.R.BURNS/R.REID GB/GB MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 6.07.25 Gr-A
2.A.VATANEN/F.GALLAGHER FIN/GB FORD ESCORT 6.13.26 Gr-A
3.D.AURIOL/D.GIRAUDET F/F TOYOTA COROLLA 6.16.08 Gr-A
4.J.KANKKUNEN /J.REPO FIN/FIN FORD ESCORT 6.18.52 Gr-A
5.C.SAINZ/L.MOYA E/E TOYOTA COROLLA 6.19.27 Gr-A
6.H.ROVANPERA/V.SILANDER FIN/FIN SEAT IBIZA 7.30.56 Gr-A
7.R.BAUMSCHLAGER/K.WICHA A/D VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI 7.38.38 Gr-A
8.L.CLIMENT/A.ROMANI E/E MITSUBISHI LANCER 7.44.39 Gr-N
9.K.ROSENBERGER/P.CARLSSON A/S VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI 8.04.51 Gr-A
10.M.BRIGHETTI/A.SIDI EAK/EAK SUBARU IMPREZA 8.10.59 Gr-A
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.