MITSUBISHI MOTORS/1997 Monte Carlo Rally



1997 MONTE CARLO RALLY
Sunday January 19
COMMUNIQUE 2

LANCER EVOLUTION IV MAKES GOOD START TO MONTE CARLO RALLY


Despite torrential rain, a large crowd of enthusiastic spectators witnessed a thrilling start to the Monte Carlo Rally, with a two-lap stage in Monaco itself. A few metres from the yachts bobbing in the harbour of the tiny principality on the Cote d'Azur, rally cars raced each other two at a time on roads that have tested the world's finest drivers almost since motoring began.

World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen smoothly completed the first stage of the Monte Carlo Rally, the first round of the 1997 World Rally Championship, in eighth place in his Lancer Evolution IV, just three seconds behind the leader. Co-driven by fellow Finn Seppo Harjanne, M殻inen was well aware that there was plenty to lose and little to gain on a rain-soaked first stage on part of Monaco's world-famous Grand Prix track and wisely saved his car for the long, arduous stages to come.

"It was incredibly slippery - like ice. It is such smooth tarmac and it was a lot more difficult than I expected," said the Team Mitsubishi Ralliart driver. His Michelin-shod Group A Lancer Evo IV ran faultlessly and Makinen is well-placed to push for the lead when the rally re-starts on Monday morning.

Team-mate Uwe Nittel clipped a tyre barrier in his Ralliart Germany-run Lancer Evo III, but the talented German and Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner lost only a handful of seconds, and are placed just seven seconds behind Makinen. World Group N Champion Gustavo Trelles, from Uruguay, has taken control of the Group N production category in his Lancer Evo III, with a cluster of Evo IIIs, including Armin Kremer's and Manfred Stohl's, in support.

All the World Championship four-wheel-drive teams have new cars this season and the Team Mitsubishi Ralliart crews maintain that it won't be clear who holds the upper hand until Monday's five-stage leg begins (9.00 from Valence) over the difficult mountain roads of the Ardeche. Makinen is leading the convoy north through the Alps to the overnight halt, which the crews reach at 19.55.




OVERALL POSITIONS AFTER SS 1 (MONACO-2,80 KM)

                                      
1.F. LOIX/S. SMEETS B/BTOYOTA CELICA2.05
2.C. SAINZ/L. MOYA E/E FORD ESCORT 2.07
3.P. LIATTI/F. PONS I/ISUBARU IMPREZA2.08
3.C. MC RAE/D. RINGER GB/GBSUBARU IMPREZA
3.D. DEPPING/M. HAWRANKE D/DFORD ESCORT 2.08
6.A. SCHWARZ/D. GIRAUDET D/FFORD ESCORT 2.10
6. H. LUNDGAARD/F. PEOFRSEN DK/DKTOYOTA CELICA 2.10
8.T. MAKINEN/S. HARJANNE FIN/FINMITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION IV 2.11
8.G. TRELLES/J. DEL BUONO ROU/RAMITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION III 2.11(1stN)
8.D. AURIOL/JM ANDRIE F/FFORD ESCORT 2.11
17.M. SOHL/SCHNEPPENHEIMER D/AMITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION III 2.17(2ndN)
19.U. NITTEL/T. THORNER D/SMITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION III 2.18



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Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.