1997 MONTE CARLO RALLY
Monday January 20
MAKINEN'S LANCER EVOLUTION IV CHALLENGES STRONGLY
ON MONTE CARLO RALLY
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart's lead driver Tommi Makinen held a strong second place after the second day of the Monte Carlo Rally, the first round of the World Rally Championship.
Driving his new Lancer Evolution IV for the first time, the reigning World Rally Champion performed brilliantly in dreadful weather conditions that tested cars and drivers to the full. Overnight snow on the windswept hills of the Ardeche, west of Valence, turned to slush thanks to ceaseless rain that made tyre choice nightmarishly difficult. Michelin's mastery of the conditions enabled it to offer Makinen and fellow Finn Seppo Harjanne no fewer than 14 choices, keeping them amongst the pacesetters.
"There has been a lot of wet snow, which makes it very difficult to drive. There is a line to follow, but it is very narrow and I think the road gets better after more cars go through the stages," declared Makinen, who ran first on the road and therefore suffered the worst of the conditions. "The car has been very good and I am looking forward to tomorrow."
If he had not spun into a snowbank on the fifth stage, Burzet, the hard-charging Finn might have taken the lead, but he is well-placed to overhaul the current leader, Carlos Sainz, when the rally heads east on Tuesday.
Uwe Nittel and Tina Thorner offered Makinen stout support in their Mitsubishi Ralliart Lancer Evo III. It is Nittel's first rally in a Group A car and the talented German driver has driven intelligently, taking safe tyre choices while he learns about the car. He finished the second leg in a solid eighth place.
"It's getting better all the time. The car was so much easier to drive when I tried racing tyres on the last stage today and there are plenty of kilometres still to go," said Nittel.
Lancer Evo IIIs are dominating the Group N production category, led by the vastly experienced Uruguayan, Gustavo Trelles, and his Argentine co-driver Jorge Del Buono. Trelles, the 1996 World Group N Champion, is hotly pursued by the promising young Austrian, Manfred Stohl.
Crews will leave Valence tomorrow morning a 7.00 to face six challenging stages , totalling 130 kilometres and taking them high into the Alps to the rest halt in Gap that they will reach around 19.15.
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER LEG 2
1. C. SAINZ/L. MOYA E/E FORD ESCORT 1.37.09 2. T. MAKINEN/S. HARJANNE FIN/FIN MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION IV + 0.03 3. P. LIATTI/F. PONS I/I SUBARU IMPREZA + 0.24 3. P. LIATTI/F. PONS I/I SUBARU IMPREZA + 0.24 4. C. McRAE/N. GRIST GB/GB SUBARU IMPREZA + 2.12 4. F. LOIX/S. SMEETS B/B TOYOTA CELICA + 2.12 6. A. SCHWARZ/D. GIRAUDET D/F FORD ESCORT + 2.41 7. D. AURIOL/JM. ANDRIE F/F FORD ESCORT + 3.14 8.U. NITTEL/T. THORNER D/S MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION III + 5.42 9. D. DEPPING/M. HAWRANKE D/D FORD ESCORT + 5.43 10. O. BURRI/C. HOFMANN CH/CH SUBARU IMPREZA + 8.04 11. G. TRELLES/J. DEL BUONO ROU/RA MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION III + 8.46 12.M.STOHL/SCHNEPPENHEIMER A/D MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION III + 9.05
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Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.