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


TEAM MITSUBISHI RALLIART CONFIDENT OF
SWEDISH RALLY SUCCESS



Team Mitsubishi Ralliart is one of the favourites for the Swedish Rally, the second round of the 1998 World Rally Championship, as it is sending a strong team of one Group A Lancer Evolution and two Carisma GTs, and has a fine record on this unique event.

The Swedish is like no other rally in the World Championship. On the one true winter event in the 14-round series, snow and ice are guaranteed. Temperatures of -15 are merely average in mid-Sweden in February and it can drop to -30* C. It is not unusual for stages to be held on frozen lakes and even rivers have been used in the past! Rallying has a long tradition in Sweden, which has produced some of the world's finest rally drivers. Driving on snow with studded tyres is a skill that takes years of practice to acquire - little wonder that the Swedish is therefore the only rally in the World Rally Championship that has yet to be won by a non-Scandinavian driver. Thousands of spectators trek into the woods, warmly wrapped against the intense cold, while thousands more follow the rally on the radio. The spectacle is extraordinary, for despite the slippery forest roads, the average speeds are amongst the highest in the Championship series. This year's rally looks as though it should be a classic: more than 16 centimetres of snow have fallen in the Varmland province in central Sweden and the forecast is that it will remain very cold for the duration of the rally.

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart has prepared thoroughly and could easily take its third win in four years, thanks to double World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen and new co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki. Makinen was second in 1995, behind Mitsubishi team-mate Kenneth Eriksson. He won in 1996 and took fastest stage times in 1997, when he was unlucky to come third. Given his past results, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution's capabilities, and his liking for snow and ice, Makinen stands every chance of taking his second Swedish victory.

"The Swedish is a rally I like very much and I have had many good results here. I think we showed on the Monte Carlo Rally that the Lancer is very competitive and I hope we can win for the first time here," said Makinen.

He will be supported by British crew Richard Burns and Robert Reid, driving a Carisma GT. Burns has never contested the Swedish Rally before and is aware that such a specialised rally will be an immense challenge. He accepts that it will be difficult to beat the experts, but he has also shown that he is a fast learner and his recent results mean that no one underestimates him.

"The first two rallies of the season were always going to be difficult for me, because they were both new, but I was pleased with our finish in Monte Carlo and that gives me confidence for the Swedish, because there was plenty of snow and ice on the Monte. My main aim is to finish and gain experience," Burns said.

"We regard the Swedish as one of our strongest rallies, but we've done plenty of testing for this year's rally anyway," said Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short. "We tested for a week in Lapland with our test driver Lasse Lampi and with Richard Burns, and we've had good co-operation with Michelin on studding tyres. The Swedish is very much a tyre rally: keeping studs is vital. You don't have as wide a choice of tyres as you do on the Monte, but they need to work in snow, ice and sometimes on gravel too.

"We're certainly hoping for a good result, especially from Tommi, who always goes well in Sweden. Richard is facing new conditions once again, but after his performance in Monte Carlo, I think he should adapt well."

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart can also rely on German Uwe Nittel and Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner, who will drive a Group A Carisma GT. Nittel is improving constantly as he adapts to the car and the conditions, and will be hoping to exploit the knowledge gained from finishing the Monte Carlo Rally.

There have been subtle revisions to this tough event this year. While it is based in Karlstad as usual, the first leg loops around Karlstad, before the hard drive north for an overnight halt in Borlange, where the temperatures will be even lower!







THE INTERNATIONAL SWEDISH RALLY

ITINERARY
Friday February 6,1998
LEG 1 : KARLSTAD-KARLSTAD (491,99 km)
08:30Start from Karlstad
SS1Malta11,88 km
SS2Sunnemo30,87 km
SS3Hamra35,42 km
SS4Vassjoen4,00 km
SS5Bjaelverud21,58 km
SS6Mangen22,09 km
SS7Langjohanstorp19,44 km
SS8Inre Hamn2,00 km
19:53Arrival in Karlstad
Saturday February 7,1998
2nd LEG : KARLSTAD-BORLANGE (532,39 km)
08:00Start from Karlstad
SS9Sagen 114,76 km
SS10Frederiksberg 24,80 km
SS11Nyhammar27,79 km
SS12Jutbo47,65 km
SS13Skog22,82 km
SS14Lugnet2,00 km
22:07Arrival in Borlange In
06.00Start from Borlange
Sunday February 8,1998
3rd LEG : BORLANGE-KARLSTAD (415,77 km)
07:00Start from Borlange
SS15Raemmen 123,81 km
SS16Sagen 214,76 km
SS17Raemmen 223,81 km
SS18Mangstorp22,49 km
SS19IZ9,37 km
15:40Arrival of the Rally in Karlstad



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