Press Release/ Entry List/Special Stage Result/ Daily Communique/Online Photo/97WRC Top Page
Monday 6th October
1996 World Rally Champion and current Championship leader Tommi Makinen will remain with Mitsubishi Ralliart for 1998, with an option for 1999. Tommi has always shown a preference for the Rugby-based Ralliart Europe team and its highly developed Lancer Evolution models, and is delighted to continue with the team through 1998 and beyond. He commented, "Mitsubishi Ralliart took me when I was a relatively unproven driver and I am very happy that I can reward their faith in me with an extension of our already successful relationship. I look forward to many more championship victories with the team.
Team Director Andrew Cowan was equally buoyant about the team's prospects. "With Tommi, we know we have a talented and accomplished driver who will, I am sure, bring us further success in 1998 and beyond. We are very much a 'family' team, so it's very good that we have been able to keep the combination together. I think 1998 will be a good year for all of us", he stated.
It is through this combination of World Champion Tommi Makinen, and the successful Ralliart Europe team, that Mitsubishi Motors Corporation hopes to contribute to the World Rally Championship and believes that their participation will strengthen the popularity and image of the Sport of Rallying.
The 1998 World Rally Championship begins in Monte Carlo in January.[Tommi Makinen Profile]
RALLYE SANREMO - RALLYE D'ITALIA (12-15 OCT.)
MITSUBISHI AIMS FOR SANREMO RALLY VICTORY
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart stands its best chance ever of winning Italy's Sanremo Rally, the 12th round of the World Rally Championship. It has entered a powerful two-car team of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions, to be driven by 1996 World Champions, and this year's World Championship leaders Tommi Makinen/Seppo Harjanne and Uwe Nittel/Tina Thorner.
First run in 1928, the Sanremo Rally is one of the most prestigious, as well as one of the oldest, of the major rallies. Based in the Riviera resort famous for its music festival, this year's rally will be a particularly momentous occasion, as it is not only taking place as the World Championship heads for a thrilling climax, but features a significantly modified route that is held exclusively on asphalt for the first time since 1993. It will be exceptionally demanding, but also particularly compact, as it is concentrated within the mountain region lying north of the Italian Riviera, between Sanremo and Savona. It therefore gives the drivers no respite. In mid-October, the weather is thoroughly unpredictable and, as if the winding asphalt roads weren't unforgiving enough, they are liable to be covered in water, mud and fallen leaves, which can suddenly give dangerously little grip to wide, racing-type tyres. But no matter what the weather, the mountains will be thronged with people. The Italians love motorsport with a passion and vast crowds will line the stages, cheering on their heroes, waving banners and sounding klaxons.
It is a great contrast to the previous round of the series on the opposite side of the globe, in Indonesia. The weather will be cooler and possibly drier, the roads are much more twisty and with a completely different surface. Indeed, the nature of the two rallies could hardly be more different. It is precisely the sort of challenge that inspires Mitsubishi to take part in this most exacting motorsport discipline in the first place.
In spite of his disappointment in Indonesia, Finn Makinen is brimming with confidence at his chances of retaining the World Championship he won with Mitsubishi a year ago. He is thrilled with the latest Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution after a highly satisfactory test in Italy. "It really goes well. I am looking forward to Sanremo. It feels really like a go-kart now and the acceleration from the hairpins is fantastic," he enthused. Although he is not especially familiar with the Sanremo Rally, he believes that the inclusion of four new stages, which are run twice in the second leg, makes the rally wide open.
He has already proved the worth of the Lancer in all conditions, including tarmac, by winning the Catalunya and leading the Tour de Corse and, armed with the latest Michelin tyres, is ready to take on a fresh challenge.
German star Nittel is setting out to strengthen Mitsubishi's position in the World Championship for Manufacturers, making the most of his Lancer's performance and reliability, in the face of tough opposition from factory teams and privateers alike.
"These are difficult stages and there are many quick local drivers too, but we will aim to score as many points as we can," Nittel declared.
"We've made good progress on asphalt in testing. Tommi has pronounced himself truly delighted with the car. That said, at that time of year, the area is subject to sudden downpours, but that's part of the rally," said Phil Short, Team Mitsubishi Ralliart's Team Manager. "Legs one and three are the classic Sanremo stages, which will be mostly new to Tommi. Leg two will be new to everybody, which will make the contest even. I gather the character of the new stages is quite different. They are very tight and twisty, the asphalt is quite poor and there is a pronounced lip on the edge of the road. I'm sure we will have to watch out for the quickest two-wheel-drive F2 cars as well on stages like these."
"Sanremo is one of the classic rallies and a real test of a driver and car. I am sure that Uwe will respond to the challenge and we are hoping for a good result," stated team boss Ingolf Raiss.
The rally starts on October 12th with a spectator stage at Poggio, on a road made famous by the Giro Italia cycle race. In other respects, the first and third legs are identical, with the start, finish and main service point all in Sanremo itself. There are nine stages in the first leg, and eight in the second and third. The second leg is the longest, with 154 kilometres of stages in a double loop north of Savona, while the first and third legs both include 120 stage kilometres. There are just three rounds of the 1997 World Rally Championship left and that guarantees that the tension will reach fever pitch.
|1997 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP||Gr A||Gr N|
|Round 1||MONTE CARLO RALLY
|Round 2||INTERNATIONAL SWEDISH RALLY
|Round 3||555 SAFARI RALLY
|Round 4||TAP RALLY PORTUGAL
|Round 5||RALLY CATALUNYA COSTA BRAVA
|Round 6||TOUR DE CORSE
|Round 7||RALLY CHEVRON ARGENTINA
|Round 8||ACROPOLIS RALLY
|Round 9||SMOKEFREE RALLY NEW ZEALAND
|Round 10||NESTE RALLY FINLAND
|Round 11||RALLY OF INDONESIA
|R.Burns 4th||M.Akaba 5th
|Cup for Drivers of Production Cars|
|1st LEG - Sunday 12 October|
|14:52||Start from Sanremo|
|Monday 13 October|
|SS8||Ponte dei Passi|
|18:14||Arrival in Sanremo|
|2nd LEG - Tuesday 14 October|
|07.50||Start from Sanremo|
|19:21||Arrival in Sanremo|
|3rd LEG - Wednesday 15 October|
|07:40||Start from Sanremo|
|SS24||Ponte dei Passi|
|16:29||Final of the rally|
Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.