MITSUBISHI MOTORS/1997 INTERNATIONAL SWEDISH RALLY



1997 INTERNATIONAL SWEDISH RALLY
Monday February 10
COMMUNIQUE 4

MITSUBISHI DRIVER MAKINEN FASTEST ON SWEDISH RALLY AS LANCERS DOMINATE GROUP N



After three days of furious competition on ice-covered roads, Team Mitsubishi Ralliart driver Tommi Makinen clinched an excellent third place on the International Swedish Rally, the second round of the 1997 World Rally Championship. On a cold, sunlit day, World Rally Champion Makinen continued to set an electrifying pace through the vast forests of central Sweden, on roads caked in ice. The Swedes are amongst the world's most knowledgeable rally fans and huge crowds - swelled by Finns, Germans and Britons cheering their own heroes - braved the piercing chill to throng every kilometre of the route. They have witnessed one of the most hotly fought World Championship rallies of all time, as the world's top drivers have swapped seconds at speeds of up to 200 km/h on snow and ice. At the finish of the 1,620-kilometre event, barely half a minute covered the top four cars.

Makinen and co-driver Seppo Harjanne survived a terrifying 360-degree spin on the penultimate stage, but still fended off former World Champion Colin McRae by just one second. The Mitsubishi Lancer crew made the perfect choice of Michelin tyres in treacherous conditions, made worse by unpredictable weather that caused the surface to vary constantly, making both stud length and tyre construction critical.

"I have been trying 150% today. The car has been very good all the time and I think we will soon win a rally. Our Michelin tyres have been fantastic, even though we have had so many different conditions - and it has been the fastest Swedish Rally ever," promised Makinen, whom many regarded as the star of the show after he charged back from fifth place at the end of the first leg.

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart's Director, Andrew Cowan, was satisfied with another fine display of the Mitsubishi Lancer's potential. "It has once again confirmed the competitiveness of the car and certainly of Tommi. His times yesterday and today have been quite stunning after he was put under pressure by a road penalty. We have again enjoyed excellent reliability and I think the most exciting thing to look forward to is that all the cars are so evenly matched."

Germany's Uwe Nittel and Swedish co-driver Tina Thorner climbed the order strongly on the last day of the event as the Team Mitsubishi Ralliart crew came to terms with the demands of winter driving and their Group A Lancer, only to leave the road and hit a tree on the penultimate stage of the rally, forcing them to retire with a solid finish practically in sight.

Mitsubishi has long regarded rallying as a true test of its road cars and its continuing success in the Group N production category is a graphic demonstration of the Lancer's capabilities. Despite unrelenting pressure from fellow Swede Stig-Olov Walfridsson, Kenneth Backlund and Tord Andersson triumphed once again, demonstrating their mastery of Group N on home soil. Mitsubishis took the top six places in Group N - the ultimate test of the showroom Lancer's awesome speed and reliability.




FINAL CLASSIFICATION

1.K. ERIKSSON/S. PARMANDER S/S SUBARU 3.51.49 Gr-A
2.C. SAINZ/L. MOYA E/E FORD ESCORT 3.52.05 Gr-A
3.T. MAKINEN/S. HARJANNE FIN/FIN MITSUBISHI LANCER 3.52.15 Gr-A
4.C.MCRAE/N. GRIST GB/GB SUBARU 3.52.20 Gr-A
5.T. RADSTROM/L. BACKMAN S/S TOYOTA CELICA 3.54.47 Gr-A
6.A. SCHWARZ/D. GIRAUDET D/F FORD ESCORT 3.55.45 Gr-A
11.K.BACKLUND/T.ANDERSSON S/S MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.04.07 Gr-N
12.S.O.WALFRIDSSON/G.BARTH S/S MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.04.52 Gr-N
13.J.KANGAS/J.LAAKSONEN S/S MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.05.43 Gr-N
16.G.TRELLES/J.DEL BUONO ROU/AR MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.09.19 Gr-N




1997 SWEDISH RALLY STATISTICS

Dates : 7-10 February 1997
Length : 1614 kms
Total SS : 413,45 kms

Entrants : 79
Starters : 73
Cars : Mitsubishi 18,Toyota 10, Opel 12,Ford 8, Volkswagen 6, Subaru 5, Mazda 4, Peugeot 4, Suzuki 4, Renault 3, Nissan 3, Skoda 2
Nations (first drivers) : 50 S, 10 FIN, 4D, 2GB, 2A, 2CZ, 2N, 2F, 1ROU, 1E, 1P, 1EE, 1DK


Overall winners :

1.K. ERIKSSON/S. PARMANDER S/S SUBARU 3.51.49 Gr-A
2.C. SAINZ/L. MOYA E/E FORD ESCORT 3.52.05 Gr-A
3.T. MAKINEN/S. HARJANNE FIN/FIN MITSUBISHI LANCER 3.52.15 Gr-A
4.C.MCRAE/N. GRIST GB/GB SUBARU 3.52.20 Gr-A
5.T. RADSTROM/L. BACKMAN S/S TOYOTA CELICA 3.54.47 Gr-A
6.A. SCHWARZ/D. GIRAUDET D/F FORD ESCORT 3.55.45 Gr-A
11.K.BACKLUND/T.ANDERSSON S/S MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.04.07 Gr-N
12.S.O.WALFRIDSSON/G.BARTH S/S MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.04.52 Gr-N
13.J.KANGAS/J.LAAKSONEN S/S MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.05.43 Gr-N
16.G.TRELLES/J.DEL BUONO ROU/AR MITSUBISHI LANCER 4.09.19 Gr-N

Stages winners : Makinen 11, McRae 7, Eriksson 5, Sainz 4, Radstrom 2, Jonsson 1, Schwarz 1
Rally leaders : Makinen 1, 6-7, Radstrom 2, Sainz 3, 17-20, Eriksson 4-5, 8-11, 21-24, McRae 12-16
World Championship for Drivers : Sainz 12, Eriksson & Liatti 10, Makinen 8, Schwarz 4, McRae 3, Nittel & Radstrom 2
World Championship for Manufacturers : Subaru 23, Ford 16, Mitsubishi 10



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Copyright 1997 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.