MITSUBISHI MOTORS/1997 Monte Carlo Rally



1997 MONTE CARLO RALLY
Sunday January 22
COMMUNIQUE 5

MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION IV MAKES ENCOURAGING START TO 1997 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP


Team Mitsubishi Ralliart driver Tommi Makinen took a splendid third place on the Monte Carlo Rally, the first round of the 1997 World Rally Championship, in his new Lancer Evolution IV. It was the perfect setting for Makinen and Mitsubishi: vast crowds flock to the most famous rally in the world from all over Europe, run through the snowcapped French Alps Hordes of enthusiastic local spectators, well used to international rallies on the superb mountain roads of southern France, are joined by Italians, Germans, Spaniards - even Belgians, Finns and Poles - each cheering their own heroes. Even if the cars stop only fleetingly at a service point or a time control, crowds appear within minutes, and local cafes and bars do a roaring trade.

Snow had retreated to the higher peaks by the last day of the Monte Carlo Rally, but despite heavy rain, the crowds were treated to a thrilling display of on-the-limit driving from Makinen, as the Finnish World Champion fought to keep his overnight lead over the final six stages in the Alpes-Maritimes.

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart is delighted with the performance of its new car on its first rally. It ran reliably throughout, but luck deserted Makinen and co-driver Seppo Harjanne at the crucial moment. He lost the lead to Italian Piero Liatti on the notoriously difficult Sisteron-Thoard stage. Typically, there were three or four kilometres of snow and slush, making tyre choice near-impossible for the 36-kilometre test and Makinen, running first on the road, had to plough a clear path for his rivals.

The Finn fought back to close the gap on Liatti to just eight seconds, even though he got three punctures when he ran over some nails. Michelin's renowned ATS system, which keeps a tyre inflated even when it has lost air, ensured that the Lancer Evo IV driver lost no time and he stood every chance of taking his first Monte Carlo win when he was caught out by a slippery corner and spun into a wall on SS15. He lost two minutes, but the Team Mitsubishi Ralliart mechanics soon fixed the damage and he made sure of third place with a measured drive to the finish on the edge of Monte Carlo's harbour.

"It was completely my fault, but it was unbelievable bad luck. Our new car has been so good and third place is a good result to start the season. Its performance on asphalt is really good," said the Finn.

"We're very satisfied with the performance of the car and the driver. We had a good chance of winning, but we ere unlucky today - rallying is like that sometimes," said Team Mitsubishi Ralliart's Team Manager, Phil Short. "We've made good progress and we feel we can be competititve on every rally this year".

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart brought both its cars home in the top five, thanks to Germany's Uwe Nittel and his Swedish co-driver, Tina Thorner. Nittel adapted steadily on his first rally in a Group A car, enthusing at his Lancer Evo III's performance and reliability.

"It has been such a hard rally, with rain and snow and so much to learn. Sometimes it has been so wet that it has been more like swimming than driving, but the car has been very good and our only problem was when we had to stop and change a wheel today," he reported.

Mitsubishi has dominated the Group N production category, Lancer Evo IIIs taking the top three places. The South American World Group N Champions, Gustavo Trelles/Jorge Del Buono, scored a convincing category win on their first attempt at one of the world's most demanding rallies and finished in ninth place. Second place went to the promising German, Armin Kremer, and third to Austria's Manfred Stohl.




FINAL CLASSIFICATION

1. P. LIATTI/F. PONS I/ISUBARU IMPREZA4.26.58
2.C. SAINZ/L. MOYA E/E FORD ESCORT + 0.55
3. T. MAKINEN/S. HARJANNE FIN/FINMITSUBISHI LANCER EV. IV+ 2.31
4. A. SCHWARZ/D. GIRAUDET D/FFORD ESCORT + 5.05
5.U. NITTEL/T. THORNER D/SMITSUBISHI LANCER EV. III + 15.44
6. H. LUNDGAARD/F. PEOFRSEN DK/DKTOYOTA CELICA + 18.28
7. O. BURRI/C. HOFMANN CH/CHSUBARU IMPREZA + 2.10
8. I. HOLDERIED/C. FRANCOIS D/FTOYOTA CELICA + 23.41
9. G. TRELLES/J. DEL BUONO ROU/RAMITSUBISHI LANCER EV.III- GrN + 25.01
10. A. KREMER/S. BEHLING D/DMITSUBISHI LANCER EV. III-GrN + 25.53
13.M.STOHL/SCHNEPPENHEIMER A/DMITSUBISHI LANCER EV.III- GrN + 27.19

1997 RALLY MONTE CARLO STATISTICS/STATISTIQUES

Dates : 18-23 January 1997
Length/Longueur : 1704.9 km
Total SS/EC : 410.04 km

Entrants/Engages : 141 (69 Gr A + 72 Gr N) of which 118 engaged only in the "Challenge Prince Albert de Monaco"
Starters/Partants : 23 + 118
Cars/Constructeurs : Peugeot 23, Ford 23, Renault 21, Fiat 16, Mitsubishi 7, Opel 7, Subaru 6, Suzuki 6, Toyota 5, Rover 5, Lancia 4, Volkswagen 3, Citroen 3, Mazda 3, Honda 3, Skoda 2, Seat 2, Proton 1, Nissan 1
Nations (first drivers)/Nationalites (pilotes) : F 68, D 20, I 17, E 5, GB 4, FIN 3, CH 3, DK 3, MC 3, B 2, CZ 2, A 2, PL 1, NL 1, HR 1, L 1, N 1, J 1, GR 1, BG 1, RUS 1


Overall winners/Vainqueurs :

1. P. LIATTI/F. PONS I/ISUBARU IMPREZA4.26.58
2.C. SAINZ/L. MOYA E/E FORD ESCORT + 0.55
3. T. MAKINEN/S. HARJANNE FIN/FINMITSUBISHI LANCER EV. IV+ 2.31
4. A. SCHWARZ/D. GIRAUDET D/FFORD ESCORT + 5.05
5.U. NITTEL/T. THORNER D/SMITSUBISHI LANCER EV. III + 15.44
6. H. LUNDGAARD/F. PEOFRSEN DK/DKTOYOTA CELICA + 18.28
7. O. BURRI/C. HOFMANN CH/CHSUBARU IMPREZA + 2.10
8. I. HOLDERIED/C. FRANCOIS D/FTOYOTA CELICA + 23.41
9. G. TRELLES/J. DEL BUONO ROU/RAMITSUBISHI LANCER EV.III- GrN + 25.01
10. A. KREMER/S. BEHLING D/DMITSUBISHI LANCER EV. III-GrN + 25.53
13.M.STOHL/SCHNEPPENHEIMER A/DMITSUBISHI LANCER EV.III- GrN + 27.19

Stages winners : Liatti 9, Makinen 4 ,Loix 2, Sainz 1, Schwarz 2
Rally leaders : Loix 1, Sainz 2-6, Makinen 7-12, Liatti 13-18
World Championship for Drivers/Championnat du Monde Pilotes: Liatti 10, Sainz 6, Makinen 4, Schwarz 3, Nittel 2, Lundgaard 1
World Championship for Manufacturers/Championnat du Monde Constructeurs: Subaru 10, Ford 9, Mitsubishi 6



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Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.