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1997 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 14
1997 NETWORK Q RAC RALLY



1997 NETWORK Q RAC RALLY
Tuesday, November 25, 1997
Leg 3 - 576.97 km - 8 Special Stages - 171.37 km
COMMUNIQUE N 4


MITSUBISHI DRIVER MAKINEN TAKES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

ON RAC RALLY

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart driver Tommi Makinen clinched the World Rally Championship for the second year running with a gritty drive to sixth place in his Lancer Evolution on the 14th and final round, Britain's RAC Rally. The Finn is Mitsubishi's second double World Champion of 1997, as Uruguay's Gustavo Trelles and Argentine Jorge del Buono with a Mitsubishi Lancer and a Carisma GT had already made sure of the Group N production car world title for the second successive year. Makinen's team-mate Richard Burns played a starring role and was unlucky not to improve on fourth place in his Carisma GT.

Cold winds and squalls of rain greeted competitors in the mountainous forests of south Wales, which wind their way between densely populated towns perched on steep hillsides. There was dense fog as well at first, which lingered on the tops of the hills for most of the day and while the rain made the stages horribly muddy, it did nothing to deter the vast crowds. Bad weather is part of the RAC's traditional challenge and British spectators are well used to taking umbrellas as well as thick coats and woolly hats. They will often walk for several kilometres to find a good vantage point.

Makinen has been suffering throughout the rally from a severe attack of influenza and it took all his renowned determination to keep driving in vile conditions, let alone hold a place in the top six. He needed just one point to make sure of the World Rally Championship for the second year running and, despite mounting tension as the finish neared, he judged the situation superbly to score the one point he needed to deny Colin McRae. His success was an appropriate end to a glittering career for his co-driver Seppo Harjanne, who has won no fewer than 20 World Championship rallies and three titles - with two drivers.

"It's an incredible feeling to be World Rally Champion again. It was the most difficult rally for me. Even before the rally, it was difficult to be in the situation of scoring one point and then this "flu made things worse. My secret in this rally has been aspirin! Sometimes I felt so bad that I just wanted to go to bed and it's been difficult to drive with this fever," Makinen said.

Burns and fellow Briton Robert Reid put in another electrifying performance in fog to build up a 17-second lead on the first stage of the third and final leg. He was exceptionally unlucky to suffer a puncture when a stone forced its way between the tyre and the wheel rim, which allowed the special anti-puncture insert developed by Michelin to escape rather than inflate. It was a bitter blow for the 26-year-old British driver after a remarkable performance on his home rally. He had proved the speed and strength of the Carisma GT, and that he is ready to take on even the world's best drivers.

"I was happy before the start that I could push hard and be on the pace, but at least everyone else will know next year that I can fight for victory here. I must admit that I am tired of coming fourth, but I am sure we can do better in future and I congratulate Tommi on becoming World Rally Champion," said Burns.

"I don't think I've ever felt so stressed on a rally. It's been a dramatic season and I don't think people realised how bad Tommi's illness was. Even to drive fast enough to come sixth is not far short of flat out and it's a tremendous achievement for him to win the World Rally Championship for us," declared Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Director Andrew Cowan.

"Richard has put in the drive of the event - I'd say that it was the drive of his life. His brief was to put pressure on Colin McRae, but his performance has exceeded our wildest dreams. It's a shame that he wasn't able to stay in contention all the way to the finish," he added.

Mitsubishi exerted its customary domination in Group N, taking the top three places in the class for "showroom" specification cars. Spaniards Luis Climent and Alex Romani led home British driver Jeremy Easson and New Zealander Reece Jones.

Makinen's and Trelles's joint triumphs round off another highly successful season for Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. Four outright victories for Makinen and the two world titles have confirmed the formidable capabilities of the trend-setting Mitsubishi Lancer.







FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

1.C.MCRAE/N.GRIST GB/GB SUBARU IMPREZA 3.54.31 Gr-A
2.J.KANKKUNEN/J.REPO FIN/FIN FORD ESCORT 3.57.18 Gr-A
3.C.SAINZ/L.MOYA E/E FORD ESCORT 3.58.24 Gr-A
4.R.BURNS/R.REID GB/GB MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 3.59.30 Gr-A
5.M.GRONHOLM/T.RAUTIAINEN FIN/FIN TOYOTA COROLLA 4.00.43 Gr-A
6.T.MAKINEN/S.HARJANNE FIN/FIN MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.01.31 Gr-A
7.P.LIATTI/F.PONS I/I SUBARU IMPREZA 4.03.11 Gr-A
8.A.VATANEN/R.FREEMAN FIN/GB FORD ESCORT 4.11.59 Gr-A
9.H.ROVANPERA/V.SILANDER FIN/FIN SEAT IBIZA 4.14.34 Gr-A
---------------- ------ ------- ------- -----
12.L.CLIMENT/A.ROMANI E/E MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.22.12 Gr-N(1ST)
13.J.EASSON/A.COOK GB/GB MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.23.27 Gr-N(2ND)
15.R.JONES/E.EVANS NZ/GB MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.26.22 Gr-N(3RD)


1997 NETWORK Q RAC RALLY
STATISTICS



Dates : 22-25 November 1997
Length : 1844.56 kms
Total SS: 389.76 kms on 26 SS

Starters : 162 (91 Group A + 71 Group N)

Makes : Ford 36, Peugeot 22, Vauxhall 19, Mitsubishi 19, Subaru 18, Skoda 4, Nissan 6, Honda 6, Opel 4, Toyota 4, Seat 4, Proton 3, Renault 3, Rover 3, Saab 3, Citroen 2, Mazda 2, Suzuki 2, Lada 1, Lancia 1, Volkswagen 1

Nations (first drivers) : GB 113, FIN 7, I 6, F 5, S 5, J 5, B 3, E 3, D 2, A 1, CH 1, DK 1, IRL 1, JA 1, LV 1, MAL 1, N 1, NZ 1, OM 1, PL 1, RC 1, RUS 1

Overall winners :

1.C.MCRAE/N.GRIST GB/GB SUBARU IMPREZA 3.54.31 Gr-A
2.J.KANKKUNEN/J.REPO FIN/FIN FORD ESCORT 3.57.18 Gr-A
3.C.SAINZ/L.MOYA E/E FORD ESCORT 3.58.24 Gr-A
4.R.BURNS/R.REID GB/GB MITSUBISHI CARISMA GT 3.59.30 Gr-A
5.M.GRONHOLM/T.RAUTIAINEN FIN/FIN TOYOTA COROLLA 4.00.43 Gr-A
6.T.MAKINEN/S.HARJANNE FIN/FIN MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.01.31 Gr-A
7.P.LIATTI/F.PONS I/I SUBARU IMPREZA 4.03.11 Gr-A
8.A.VATANEN/R.FREEMAN FIN/GB FORD ESCORT 4.11.59 Gr-A
9.A.MCRAE/D.SENIOR GB/GB VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI 4.14.27 Gr-A
10.H.ROVANPERA/V.SILANDER FIN/FIN SEAT IBIZA 4.14.34 Gr-A



Stages winners : McRae 15, Burns 5, Auriol 4, Gronholm 2, Kankkunen 1,

Rally leaders : 1-2 McRae, 3-6 Kankkunen, 7-11 McRae, 12-17 Burns, 18 Burns&McRae, 19-20 Burns, 21-26 McRae

World Championship for Drivers : Makinen 63, McRae 62, Sainz 51, Kankkunen 29, Eriksson 28, Liatti 24, Burns 21, Schwarz 11.

World Championship for Manufacturers : Subaru 114, Ford 91, Mitsubishi 86


MICHELIN-MITSUBISHI OIL-ENKEI-NGK-OHLINS-OMP
PIAA-PRINGLE OF SCOTLAND-SABELT

-Communique 3-

-Communique 2-

-Communique 1-



Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.