Safari Rally Entry

555 SAFARI RALLY '96
Friday, 5th April 1996
Communique 2


MAKINEN PRIMED FOR VICTORY AFTER SAFARI RALLY FIRST LEG



Team Mitsubishi Ralliart started its defence of its 1996 FIA World Rally Championship lead by finishing a close second on the first leg of the three-day Safari Rally in Kenya today, April 5, with Tommi Makine and Seppo Harjanne just 27 seconds behind the leaders in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III.

Although strong sunshine temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius prevailed for much of the day, recent heavy rain combined with sudden heavy downpours during the leg caused havoc and the organisers were forced to cancel the final competitive section of the day and shortened others on 784 km leg. 527 km of competitive section had been planned.

Makinen was on the pace from the start in Nairobi, although a front driveshaft problem on the first competitive section from Machakos South Roed, south of the capital, to Makindu caused him to lose around one minute. Makinen was fastest on the next two competitive section and moved in front before a puncture on the fourth and final section robbed him of the lead which was taken by Kenneth Eriksson's Subaru.

Said Malinen : "The roads were very fast, especially the second competitive section which was flat out all the time. The car has run very well, and I am very happy. There is a long way to go."

Malinen's team mate, Japanese Kenjiro Shinozuka, co-driver by Pentti Kuukkala in the Mitsubishi Lancer Dealar Team Lancer Evolution III, finnished the leg in seventh position. He was delayed by a stcking throttle on the first competitive section, combined with problems with his intercom which meant he had to rely on hand signals from his co-driver. On the final section of the leg, the Japanese driver was delayed by a problem with a rear shock absorber.

Shinozuka commented: "We managed to solve our problems quickly and I hope to have a better day tomorrow. This is a very long rally so I will be able to make up places again."

Apart from these minor problems, both cars required only routine servicing thoughout the leg. The Lancers arrived safely in Nailobi and at the final service had a routine change of transmission and suspension in preparation for the longest leg of the rally tomorrow with 725km of competitive sections planned in an overall route of 1,211 km.

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart manager Phil Short commented at the overnight half in Nailobi: "Today has been a very good day for us. Tommi has driven at a very good pace to stay right in contention. Kenjiro has had some minor problems but is still in a good position, and I'm sure both drivers can improve thire positions during the long leg tomorrow. The main objective today was to get both cars back to Nailobi in good shape, and we succeeded,"...../.....

The 1996 Safari Rally restarts tomorrow morning from Nairobi at 05:00, with the route taking the surviving competitors out of the original 59 starters north west of the capital tpwards Eldret, before returring again to Nailobi at around 18:45. The biggest callenge facing them will be the Charangani loop at the northernmost point of the event, which feactures twisting forest roards with dense tree cover.



OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AT THE END OF LEG1


1. K.Eriksson/S. Parmander S/S Subaru Impreza 2.27.06
2. T.Makinen/S.Harjanne SF/SF Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III +0.27
3. C.McRae/D.Ringer GB/GB Subaru Impreza +1.22
4. I.Dancan/D.Williamson EAK/GB Toyoya Cerica +2.38
5. C.Sainz/L.Moya E/E Ford Escort Cosworth +8.38
6. M.Galanti/M.Christie PY/RA Toyota Cerica +16.57
7. Kenjiro Shinozuka/P.Kuukkala J/SF Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III +17.31
8. P.Liatti/M.Ferforlia I/I Subaru Impreza +19.27



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Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.

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