1997 MONTE CARLO RALLY
Saturday January 18
On Sunday, January 19th, World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen will commence rallying's new era against the opulent backdrop of the harbour in Monte Carlo. Everything, from Makinen's Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV to the first stage of the rally, the number of championship rounds, the points-scoring system and even the vehicle rules are new - and Makinen cannot wait for battle to commence.
MITSUBISHI LAUNCHES NEW LANCER EVOLUTION IV
FOR MONTE CARLO RALLY
While Europe shivers in its coldest winter for 10 years or more, the world's best rally teams are preparing for the first round of the 14 rounds of the 1997 World Rally Championship in springlike conditions in Monaco, on the shores of the Mediterrenean.
It may be spring in Monaco, but Team Mitsubishi Ralliart knows that it can expect every kind of weather during the four days and 400 kilometres before the finish in Monaco on Wednesday - and it has worked closely with its tyre suppliers to prepare for anything from dry asphalt to snow, ice, slush and even rain on the classic stages in the Alps.
The 32-year-old Finn, re-united with fellow-countryman Seppo Harjanne as co-driver, doesn't feel under pressure in the least defending his world title for Team Mitsubishi Ralliart and doesn't fear the new World Rally Cars, which do not share the Mitsubishi's close production origins. "I have a new car that is faster and I have more experience. The Lancer Evo IV feels really good," he said.
"Of course, we don't know how much better the other cars are and it will be really difficult, because we cannot change tyres every stage. There are many places where the first stage is nearly all tarmac and the second has a lot of snow and ice, but it's the same for everyone," he added.
Makinen's new Lancer Evolution IV has been extensively tested and the Finnish star believes that its new turbo will improve power at low revs, while new rear suspension will make it easier to drive.
He will be strongly supported by Ralliart Germany's rising star, Uwe Nittel and his Swedish co-driver, Tina Thorner. Nittel will be driving a Group A Lancer Evolution III for the first time and stands every chance of a good result, as the car is one that Makinen drove in 1996.
"It is a fantastic opportunity for me to drive a car like this," Nittel commented. "It is important to finish, because I have only tested it twice and it is important to learn."
"This is a great step for Ralliart Germany. When the car arrived, we stopped work and celebrated. I opened the champagne!" promised Ralliart Germany's Team Manager, Ingolf Raiss.
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Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.