Completing an amazingly successful season for Mitsubishi in the FIA World Rally Championship, Portuguese driver Rui Madeira won Group N on the eighth and final round - the Network Q RAC Rally - driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III. The four day event finished in the historic Roman city of Chester on Wednesday, November 22, and Madeira's result means that Mitsubishi, already provisionally crowned FIA World Rally Champions in the class for standard cars, has won seven of the eight rounds this year.
Madeira had already secured the FIA World Cup for Group N drivers (subject to confirmation) and the Manufacturers' Group N World Championship for Mitsubishi after his third World Championship victory in Catalunya last month. His fourth win, on the RAC Rally, was a fitting end to a tremendously successful season for the Ralliart Germany team that prepared and ran his reliable high-performance Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III.
The result was all the more remarkable for the fact that this was Rui's first visit to the RAC Rally which is widely regarded as a specialised event requiring a great deal of experience to complete successfully. Co-driven by his regular partner Nuno R. Silva, he ploughed through the wet, slippery fog-bound stages of Wales, and the rocky, hazardous forest tracks of the northern England's massive Kielder Complex, to compete the 511 km of stages a massive 6m 17s ahead of his nearest rival in the category.
Madeira was chased throughout the 28 stages of the event by a wide variety of Group N cars driven by local British and international drivers, but with the reliability and superb traction of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III to rely on, Madeira stormed into the lead at the end of the second leg in the four day event and continued to extend it as his rivals succumbed to mechanical problems. He even managed to push the standard Lancer up to an amazing seventh overall, one of the highest overall placings for a Group N car.
Said Madeira: " My Lancer was perfect throughout the four days. I had no problems at all and I am very pleased to have scored such a high overall result in a standard car. The stages here in Britain are very nice, perhaps the best in the whole World Rally Championship. My Lancer has been fantastic and the team has been brilliant and given me everything I needed. This Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III is definitely the best available in Group N."
Ralliart Germany Team Manager Ingolf Reiss added: "Rui has been a fantastic driver here on the RAC Rally. He drives with his head as well as having good speed. You can see know why his is the Group N World Cup winner, and how Mitsubishi won the FIA World Rally Championship in Group N. He has had terrific pressure from local drivers who know these stages so well, and he has never been here before, so it is incredibly good that he has won Group N in Britain."
FIA Ladies World Cup holder Isolde Holderied, co-driven by Tina Thorner also enjoyed success on the RAC Rally bringing the second Ralliart Germany Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III home in a respectable fourth in Group N and 14th overall.
Isolde commented: "I had a very fine rally with absolutely no problems at all. It was very foggy and muddy in places, but I drove carefully and my car was once again totally reliable."
Japanese driver Y. Kataoka, co-driven by S. Hayashi, took third place in Group N and 11th overall in another Mitsubishi Lancer. 95 of the original 178 starters completed 2327 km route to finish the event in Chester.
Colin McRae (Subaru) won the event overall from team mates Carlos Sainz in second and Richard Burns third. Team Petronas Mitsubishi Ralliart driver Tommi Makinen took the lead on the first day of the raily, but clipped a log on the first stage of Leg Two causing suspension damage.He then had to drive for a long distance with the car in this condition causing further damage to the transmission which caused his retirement. His team mate Kenneth Eriksson took up the Mitsubishi attack thereafter, but was knocked back to third with a puncture on stage nine, the longest of the World Rally Championship at 59 km, before slipping off the road on the approach to a slippery hairpin on stage 18 and was thus forced to retire.
In an attempt to add further glory to Mitsubishi's tremendous 1995 season, Eriksson and Makinen are now preparing to travel to the Rally of Thailand, the final round of the Asia - Pacific Rally Championship, where Team Mitsubishi Ralliart has only to achieve a top three placing to win the FIA Asia-Pacific Manufacturers' Cup having led the championship since the Rally Australia. Eriksson has already been declared Asia-Pacific Rally Champion after taking his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III to victory in Malaysia, Australia and on the Hong Kong - Beijing Rally. The Rally of Thailand starts on Saturday, December 2 from Phrae, 400 km north of the Thai Capital Bangkok, from where the Mitsubishi pair will tackle three days of forest stages covering 452 km on gravel tracks.
|Pos.||Comp.||DRIVER/CO-DRIVER||CAR||G/C||Gr Pos.||Cl Pos.||Time|
|1||4||C. McRAE/D. RINGER||SUBARU||A/8||1||1||5:09:19|
|2||5||C. SAINZ/L. MOYA||SUBARU||A/8||2||2||+0:36|
|3||6||R. BURNS/R. REID||SUBARU||A/8||3||3||+6:39|
|4||44||A. McRAE/C. WOOD||FORD||A/8||4||4||+11:15|
|5||8||B. THIRY/S. PREVOT||FORD||A/8||5||5||+11:52|
|6||18||G. EVANS/H. DAVIES||FORD||A/7||6||1||+32:48|
|7||12||R. MADEIRA/N.R. SILVA||MITSUBISHI||N/4||1||1||+34:45|
|8||17||J. KYTOLEHTO/A. KAPANEN||NISSAN||A/7||7||2||+36:00|
|9||36||M. KAMIOKA/K. GORMLEY||SUBARU||N/4||2||2||+41:02|
|10||19||A. OREILLE/J. BOYERE||RENAULT||A/7||8||3||+41:21|
|11||84||Y. KATAOKA/S. HAYASHI||MITSUBISHI||N/4||3||3||+41:51|
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Copyright 1995 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation
Copyright 1995 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation