Press Release/ Entry List/Special Stage Result/ Daily Communique/Online Photo/97WRC Top Page

[Pre Event Release]


Team Mitsubishi Ralliart driver Tommi Makinen starts the Rally Finland, the 10th round of the World Rally Championship, as hot favourite to win and extend his World Championship lead, driving his Mitsubishi Lancer. He will get strongsupport from rising German star Uwe Nittel, also driving a Lancer.

The Neste Rally Finland (previously well known as the 1000 Lakes Rally) is renowned as one of the most demanding rallies in the world. It is perhaps the rally that the drivers most want to win, as the ultra-fast forest roads of central Finland provide a stern test of skill and bravery. Detailed knowledge of the terrain is vital to stand any chance of beating the Finns on home soil - and none is harder to beat than Mitsubishi driver Makinen.

World Rally Champion Makinen, co-driven by fellow Finn Seppo Harjanne, has been the pace-setter in this year's World Championship, recording more wins and more fastest special stage times than any other driver. He is more confident than ever heading for Finland, where he is aiming to give Mitsubishi its third victory in as many years and to score an unprecedented fourth consecutive win himself. Makinen comes from the village of Puuppola in the heart of Rally Finland territory and even his rivals regard him as near-unbeatable.

"Of course it is always nice to drive at home and I like the Finnish stages so much. They are really fast and difficult. I think they will be good for us. The Mitsubishi Lancer is very fast anyway, but we have found some good improvements in testing, so I hope I can win," said Makinen.

"It is a great opportunity for me to drive in this event in a competitive Group A car like a Mitsubishi. It will be difficult of course with so many top drivers competing, but I really hope I can score World Rally Championship points," said Nittel, who will be co-driven by Sweden's Tina Thorner.

"Mitsubishi has a good record on this event, but we've done a lot of testing and come up with some changes that Tommi is very happy with," Team Mitsubishi Ralliart's Team Manager, Phil Short, stated. "As Tommi has won the rally three times in a row, he is obviously favourite and that puts a little bit of pressure on him, but I am sure he will be quite confident of winning. Uwe Nittel is learning all the time, but this is a tough event and we will be delighted if he scores points. He is going there for the experience."

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart has prepared thoroughly for the event, carrying out more than 900 kilometres of testing in Finland in June. Test driver Lasse Lampi will conduct a last-minute test while Makinen and Harjanne are practicing for the rally, as the weather is expected to be cooler and more typical of what crews will find during the event. It will give Mitsubishi a chance to optimise tyre choice and make full use of Michelin's world-beating rubber.

The Rally Finland will also be a special occasion for Uruguayan Gustavo Trelles, who is on the brink of taking his second consecutive Group N World Rally Championship for Mitsubishi. Trelles and co-driver Jorge Del Buono of Argentina have become the acknowledged masters of the production car category since changing to Mitsubishi and are looking forward to trying the latest Lancer Evolution IV for the first time in Finland.

"We think this new car will be very good. I am sure it will be as successful as our other Mitsubishis," said Trelles. Despite tough opposition, he will be one of the favourites in a class where their strength and speed has made Mitsubishis almost invincible.

"We have done a lot of work with this new car and it has been tested very successfully by Uwe Nittel on the Hunsrueck Rally. We are very much looking forward to using it on a World Championship rally," stated Ingolf Raiss, the Team Manager of Mitsubishi Ralliart Germany that prepares Trelles's cars.

The rally starts on August 29th in Jyvaskyla in central Finland and runs until August 31st.


Friday 29 August - Leg1
 14:00Start of the Rally
 SS1 Parkkola
 SS2 Keuruu
 SS3 Jukojarvi
 18:34Regrouping in Hippos
 SS4 Hippos Tele
 19:53Rest halt in Laajavuori
Saturday 30 August - Leg2
 06:00Start of the Rally
 SS5 Leustu
 SS6 Rapsula
 SS7 Paijala/
 SS8 Sahalanti
 SS9 Siitama
 13:21Regrouping in Vastila
 SS10 Vastila
 SS11 Ouninpohja
 SS12 Vaheri
 SS13 Himos
 18:11 Regrouping in Hippos
 SS14 Harju
 19:51 Rest Halt in Laajavuori
Sunday 31 August - Leg3
 07:30Start of the Rally
 SS15 Lempaa
 SS16 Vartiamaki
 SS17 Hauhanpohja
 SS18 Lampaa II
 SS19 Vartiamaki II
 SS20 Hauhanpohia II
 Regrouping in Vastila
 SS21 Ruuhimaki
 SS22 Laukaa
 17:07Arrival of the rally in Jyvaskila

Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.