LANCER EVOLUTION IIIs BID FOR SUCCESS IN
Team Winfield Mitsubishi Ralliart aims to round off its ultra-successful 1996 season in style with a powerful assault on Spain's Catalunya Rally, the final round of the World Rally Championship.
Team Ralliart is sending a pair of Group A Lancer Evolution IIIs for World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen and British crew Richard Burns / Robert Reid. The Lancer Evolution III will benefit from Didier Auriol's advice after he contested the Sanremo Rally for the team and from its usual close partnership with Michelin.
Makinen is raring to go after a superb year in which he has already won five World Championship rallies. "I like the tarmac and I want to show that I can win there too," he declared confidently. He has plenty of experience of Spain's round of the World Rally Championship, playing a starring role in a Formula 2 car in 1994. He was unlucky not to finish last year, after a last-minute accident.
Burns will be contesting his first European rally for Mitsubishi and his first event on asphalt since last year's Manx International. It will be his first visit to the Spanish event, although he carried out two days of testing before the start.
"I can see it being difficult, especially as I'm going straight to the recce from the Hong Kong-Beijing Rally, but I'm really, really looking forward to it. We've done some testing and the Lancer Evolution III will be the fastest car I've driven on asphalt," he said.
"I'd like Team Winfield Mitsubishi Ralliart to finish the season with a good result and I think our reliability will help. Tommi's confident and keen to lay to rest the myth that he isn't equally fast on asphalt. I would like to see Richard gain experience, but I would also like to see what he can do on this kind of rally, as we start planning next year's programme," said Team Manager Phil Short.
Mitsubishi is on the brink of celebrating another world title, the Group N production category. Uruguay's Gustavo Trelles, co-driven by Argentina's Jorge Del Buono, holds a narrow lead over fellow Lancer Evolution III driver Uwe Nittel of Germany, who is navigated by Sweden's Tina Thėšner. No one else stands a chance of beating the Mitsubishi drivers.
The Catalunya Rally has only been part of the World Championship since 1991, but it is already established as one of the classic rallies. The smooth asphalt roads - sometimes wide yet twisty, sometimes extremely quick - are some of the most demanding tarmac stages anywhere. It is also one of the most popular rallies, enthusiastic Spanish fans flocking to the stages in their thousands.
It will also be the last rally for Mitsubishi's most successful rally car yet, the Lancer Evolution III, which is due to be replaced by the highly promising Lancer Evolution IV in 1997.
1st LEG-Monday 4 November
09.00 Start from Lloret de Mar
19.59 Arrival in Lloret da Mar
2nd LEG-Tuesday 5 November
07.00 Start from Lloret de Mar
21.04 Arrival in Lloret da Mar
3rd LEG-Wednesday 6 November
08.00 Start from Lloret de Mar
15.37Arrival in Lloret da Mar
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Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.