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17th RALLY Chevron ARGENTINA


1997 RALLY ARGENTINA
Saturday May 24 th,1997
COMMUNIQUE 4

DOUBLE WIN FOR MITSUBISHI IN RALLY ARGENTINA




Team Mitsubishi Ralliart driver Tommi Makinen extended his lead in the World Rally Championship with an emphatic victory on the Rally Argentina. Mitsubishi also dominated the Group N production category thanks to its other World Rally Champion, Uruguay's Gustavo Trelles.

Makinen, co-driver Seppo Harjanne and their Mitsubishi Lancer led the surviving crews in the tough, 1,162-kilometre event into the dry but picturesque countryside around Santa Rosa de Calamuchita, for the closing stages of a rally they had dominated from the start. Vast crowds lined the route amidst the hills and lakes south of Cordoba, whole families gathering on road junctions to applaud each car, or driving into the stages with a barbecue for a day's entertainment. Even the service areas were thronged with thousands of fans, all straining to get a glimpse of the cars and the drivers. After a cool start, brilliant sunshine provided the perfect setting for Makinen's triumph. At the finish in Cordoba, his victory was celebrated in the town's football stadium with all the fervour of a winning goal in a cup final.

Makinen had broken the back of the opposition from Subaru, Toyota and Ford in the first two days of the rally and his only problem in the last four stages was maintaining concentration while dictating the pace in his all-conquering Mitsubishi Lancer. His third victory of the season - his second in a row in Argentina - has extended his World Championship lead to six points and put real pressure on his rivals to catch the flying Finn and his flying, Michelin-equipped Mitsubishi.

"It's always nice to win, especially because this was harder than last year. Yesterday was a real high-speed day, but the Mitsubishi is so quick in all conditions that there was no need to try too hard today. I am very happy," he said.

"This was a very important win for us," said Team Mitsubishi Ralliart's Director, Andrew Cowan. "We needed a good result after our bad luck on the Tour of Corsica, but Tommi was always confident that we could do well here. This was a particularly stern test for the Mitsubishi Lancer: we've had rough, hard, Acropolis-type conditions and our car has been in a class of its own. It has been a good way to end the first half of the season and we feel confident for the second half after this, especially as we're heading for a string of events that Tommi likes. We know it will be tough though and it won't lack excitement.

"We really feel sorry for Richard Burns. He was very unlucky to have that rear suspension problem and he could quite easily have finished third otherwise. Overall, our performance here bodes very well for the next round of the World Championship, the Acropolis."

Mitsubishi Lancers were the pace-setters once more in Group N, the ultimate test of a road car's strength and speed. Gustavo Trelles, the reigning Group N World Champion, increased his lead in the 1997 series with another accomplished victory, driving his Ralliart Germany-tuned Lancer.

"It has been a very good rally for us and we haven't had to push the car too much to win. It's also nice to be the top South American finisher," he said.

"It is always a pleasure to work with Gustavo and I am very happy to give Mitsubishi another success here in Argentina - especially as he has become the first driver to score overall World Championshp points under the new points-scoring system," said Ingolf Raiss, the Team Director. "Manfred Stohl has been unlucky, but he has been very quick once again and he has a promising future with Mitsubishi."

It was one of the toughest and fastest events in the World Championship, and the retirement rate was heavy.







FINAL CLASSIFICATION

1.T. MAKINEN/S. HARJANNE FIN/FIN MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.25.38 Gr-A
2.C.MCRAE/N. GRIST GB/GB SUBARU IMPREZA 4.26.39 Gr-A
3. K.ERIKSSON/S.PARMANDER S/S SUBARU IMPREZA 4.30.06 Gr-A
4.M.GRONHOLM/T.RAUTIANEN FIN/FIN TOYOTA CELICA 4.35.16 Gr-A
5.D.AURIOL/D.GIRAUDET F/F TOYOTA CELICA 4.40.13 Gr-A
6.G.TRELLES/J.DEL BUONO ROU/ROU MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.49.38 Gr-N
7. R.SUFAN/M.CHRISTIE RA/RA TOYOTA CELICA 4.49.51 Gr-A
8. H.ROVANPERA/V.SILANDER FIN/FIN SEAT IBIZA 4.55.11 Gr-A
9. O.GOMEZ/M.MARTI E/E SEAT IBIZA 4.58.44 Gr-A
10. P.SIBERA/P.GROSS CZ/CZ SKODA FELICIA 4.59.45 Gr-A




STATISTICS/STATISTIQUES

1997 RALLY ARGENTINA



Dates : 21-24 May 1997
Length : 1162,31 kms
Total SS : 413.37 kms



Entrants : 65 (38 Group A + 27 Group N)
Starters : 51 (32 Group A + 19 Group N)
Manufacturers : , Renault 21,Mitsubishi 13,Subaru 6,Toyota 5, Suzuki 5, Ford 3, Seat 3, Skoda 3, Peugeot 3, Lancia 1, Honda 1, Morris 1.
Nations (first drivers) : RA 44, FIN 4, PY 3, GB 2, E2, CZ 2, ROU 2, A 2, RCH 2, S1, F 1 .
Group N winner :
6.G.TRELLES/J.DEL BUONO ROU/ROU MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.49.38 Gr-N

Stages winners : Makinen & McRae 11, Burns 2, Sainz 2, Eriksson 1, Gronholm 1.
Rally leaders : McRae , Kankkunen & Sainz 1,Burns & Sainz 2,Makinen 3-23.
World Championship for Drivers : Makinen 38, McRae 32, Sainz & Liatti 18, , Eriksson 14, Schwarz 11, Burns 6.
World Championship for Manufacturers : Subaru 64, Mitsubishi 46 , Ford 29.

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Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.