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1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 2
THE INTERNATIONAL SWEDISH RALLY (5-8 FEB)



Saturday 7th February
LEG 2 - 532,39 km - 6 SS - 139,82 km
COMMUNIQUE N 3


MITSUBISHI LEADS SWEDISH RALLY WITH MAKINEN
AND DOMINATES GROUP N


Team Mitsubishi Ralliart driver Tommi Makinen has taken control on the second day of the Swedish Rally, the second round of the 1998 World Rally Championship, and looks poised to score Mitsubishi's third Swedish Rally victory. Mitsubishis are looking uncatchable in the Group N production car category, with Lancer Evolution and Carisma GT drivers holding the top five places. Conditions changed dramatically on the second day of the World Rally Championship's one true snow rally. Temperatures were up to 10 degrees warmer than they were on the first day of the rally and the drivers had to cope with slush and gravel as well as snow and ice. There were fog patches on the first few stages of the morning as well, making the rally even more testing. Swedish spectators come prepared for bad weather though and they thronged the stages in their thousands, well equipped with snow boots and colourful woollen hats to ward off the chill. Enterprising householders set up stalls selling coffee and hamburgers in the forests, making the most of these few days when the Varmland and Dalarna provinces are in the spotlight.

World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen and co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki blasted into the lead with a devastating time on Jutbo, the longest stage of the rally. The Lancer crew were the only competitors to complete the twisty 47-kilometre stage in under 28 minutes, making full use of Michelin's latest GE asymetric snow tyre. They gained a commanding lead when Toyota driver Thomas Radstrom crashed, while Colin McRae retired his Subaru on the same stage with electrical trouble and Carlos Sainz also lost time after spinning his Toyota, then hitting a rock.

"My performance has never been so good on this long stage in the past, so I put in a big effort and I am happy for that," said a jubilant Makinen. "I wish I had used this tyre earlier, but now we don't need to go flat out anyway. We will just keep an eye on the others."

Germany's Uwe Nittel and Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner have made excellent progress in their Carisma GT, using their Michelin tyres to good effect. Their Mitsubishi has performed perfectly and they stand a good chance of scoring valuable World Championship points on one of the most demanding rounds of the series. "It has been a good day and I am really pleased we are moving up," said Nittel. "There is so much to learn about this rally though: I was too careful with my tyres on the long stage and I realise now that I could have gone faster without damaging the studs. Tommi's time was incredible. He knows everything about this rally!"

British crew Richard Burns and Robert Reid have driven superbly in their Carisma GT, even breaking stage records in the morning. It was an extraordinary feat on their first attempt at the Swedish and the perfect demonstration of the effectiveness of the Mitsubishi and its Michelin tyres. Since his accident on the second stage yesterday, Burns has played a valuable testing role in evaluating tyres and helped Makinen make the right choice as he pushed for the lead. "It's been a good day and I can see where I can gain time in future. It's a lot to do with the tyres and having confidence in them, but I'm very pleased to be setting fastest times first time through these stages," Burns declared.

"It's been a very satisfying day for us. Tommi always felt that he could stay in touch with Radstrom and take some time off him, but he's taken charge of the rally after the longest stage. He doesn't need to take any risks tomorrow, but still we need everything to go well to be sure of winning," said Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short. "Richard has set some very impressive times today and he's enjoying himself." "Uwe is also driving very well today. He's gaining confidence with each stage, and, thanks to his past experience in the Swedish rally, he can surely have a good result tomorrow.”, commented German Manager Ingolf Raiss.

Mitsubishi has tightened its grip in Group N, but there is little to choose between local heroes Stig-Olov Walfridsson and Sweden's Group N king Kenneth Backlund. The duel between the Carisma GT drivers has been one of the highlights of the rally and either of them could easily emerge as winner. One thing is certain: they can place complete confidence in their machinery.

The third and final leg of the rally is the shortest, with just 94 kilometres of stages, but in such changeable weather conditions, nothing can be taken for granted until the winner crosses the finish ramp.

OVERALL CLASSIFICATION END OF LEG 2

1.T.MAKINEN/R.MANNISENMAKI FIN/FIN MITSUBISHI LANCER 2.41.23.1 Gr-A
2.J.KANKKUNEN /J.REPO FIN/FIN FORD ESCORT 2.42.46.2 Gr-A
3.C.SAINZ/L.MOYA E/E TOYOTA COROLLA 2.43.01.5 Gr-A
4.K.ERIKSSON/S.PARMANDER S/S SUBARU IMPREZA 2.43.28.7 Gr-A
5.D.AURIOL/D.GIRAUDET F/F TOYOTA COROLLA 2.43.40.8 Gr-A
6.M.GRONHOLM/T.RAUTIAINEN FIN/FIN TOYOTA CELICA 2.44.32.7 Gr-A
7.U.NITTEL/T.THORNER D/S MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 2.45.32.3 Gr-A
8.B.THIRY/S.PREVOT B/B FORD ESCORT 2.46.31.4 Gr-A
9.P.LIATTI/F.PONS I/I SUBARU IMPREZA 2.47.23.8 Gr-A
10.M.JONSSON/J.JOHANSSON S/S FORD ESCORT 2.48.13.6 Gr-A
12.S.WALFRIDSON/G.BARTH S/S MITSUBISHI LANCER 2.49.19.5 1stGr-N
13.K.BACKLUND/T.ANDERSSON S/S MITSUBISHI LANCER 2.49.29.9 2ndGr-N
16.J.KANGAS/J.LAKKSONEN FIN/FIN MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 2.51.49.2 3rdGr-N
17.R.BURNS/R.REID GB/GB MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 2.54.34.0 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.