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API RALLY AUSTRALIA (30 OCT-2 NOV)
MITSUBISHI AIMS FOR THIRD SUCCESSIVE WIN
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart is sending its strongest team this season to the API Rally Australia, the second last round of the 1997 World Rally Championship, supported by Winfield, a Rothmans cigarette brand. It is headed by World Championship leader Tommi Makinen. The Finnish driver's Lancer Evolution will be supported by Britain's Richard Burns in a Carisma GT and another Lancer Evolution for Australia's Ed Ordynski.
In just 10 years, the Rally Australia has become one of the most prestigious rallies in the World Rally Championship. Its famous super-special stage in Perth's Langley Park, on the banks of the Swan River, has an unrivalled atmosphere and the crowds grow larger every year, both at Langley Park and in famous forest stages such as Bunnings, Wellington Dam and Helena. It isn't just skilled promotion that makes the Rally Australia distinctive : the stages are fast, but exceptionally slippery and have tended to favour Finnish drivers such as Team Mitsubishi Ralliart's driver Makinen. The tiny ball bearing like stones that surface the stages also make special demands of the tyres. Michelin has developed a unique "Australia cut" - a hand-cut tread pattern - to provide grip in such awkward conditions.
Makinen is bubbling with confidence. He has already won four World Championship rallies this season and his superbly judged third place on the last round of the World Rally Championship, Italy's Sanremo Rally, has considerably reduced the pressure on him as he nears a second world title.
"Australia is a rally I like very much. The stages are very good for the car and our Michelin tyres, so I feel very confident that we can do well," he promised.
"I'm really looking forward to Australia. I feel our performance has been getting better and better this season and I feel very confident with the car. Australia is always a good rally for Mitsubishi and I think we can do well, especially as we have a big test planned," said Burns.
"I am very proud to drive in the same team as the World Champion Tommi Makinen in Australia. It's a real honour to get a chance like this on my home round of the World Rally Championship and I hope we can give Mitsubishi a good result," Ordynski stated.
"In recent history, Australia has been a good event for Mitsubishi, but we're not resting on our laurels," said Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short. "We've got quite an extensive test programme with Tommi, Richard and our test driver, Lasse Lampi in the period leading up to the recce and Lasse will continue testing during the recce. In Australia, the critical thing is not car set-up, but tyres. It will be different this year. It will be hotter, drier and dustier - and we don't know what effect that will have yet.
"Tommi likes Australia. I think he will settle into the right sort of rhythm fairly quickly and that will put him at or close to the head of the field. He doesn't need to win, but a win could sew up the championship," Short added. "Richard is doing the bulk of the testing and he has some experience of the event, having finished fifth last year. He will build on that and I'm sure he will offer good support. We're glad to have Ed Ordynski as part of Team Mitsubishi Ralliart and his experience is bound to be useful on this event. He has an exceptional record on this rally in Group N Mitsubishis and he deserves his chance in a Group A car."
Japan's most successful rally driver, Kenjiro Shinozuka, makes a return to the World Rally Championship in a Group A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. He has vast experience of the world's toughest rallies and is sure to make an impact on the leaderboard.
The rally covers 1,526 kilometres, packed into just over three days. It starts at Langley Park on Thursday, October 30, before heading for the tough forests east of Perth on Friday. In total, it has 159 kilometres of stages. The second leg is the most southerly of the three, with 150 kilometres of flat-out driving, while the last leg is concentrated in the massive Bunnings Forest before the ceremonial finish in the centre of Perth at 13.45 on November 2. In total, there will be 24 stages, covering 421 kilometres.
|Thursday 30 October - LEG 1|
|18.30||Start from Perth|
|SS1||Langley Park Super 1|
|18.57||Arrival in Perth|
|Friday 31 October|
|06.00||Start from Perth|
|SS11||Langley Park 2|
|20.00||Arrival in Perth|
|Saturday 1 November - LEG 2|
|06.00||Start from Perth|
|SS19||API Television Stage|
|SS20||Langley Park 3|
|19.24||Arrival in Perth|
|Sunday 2 November - LEG 3|
|06.00||Start from Perth|
|13.45||Final of the rally in Perth|
|1997 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP||Gr A||Gr N|
|Round 1||MONTE CARLO RALLY
|Round 2||INTERNATIONAL SWEDISH RALLY
|Round 3||555 SAFARI RALLY
|Round 4||TAP RALLY PORTUGAL
|Round 5||RALLY CATALUNYA COSTA BRAVA
|Round 6||TOUR DE CORSE
|Round 7||RALLY CHEVRON ARGENTINA
|Round 8||ACROPOLIS RALLY
|Round 9||SMOKEFREE RALLY NEW ZEALAND
|Round 10||NESTE RALLY FINLAND
|Round 11||RALLY OF INDONESIA
|R.Burns 4th||M.Akaba 5th
|Round 12||RALLYE SANREMO
|T.Makinen 3rd||M.Staguni 1st
|Cup for Drivers of Production Cars|
Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.