25 January 2004 Leg 3 Release

Drivers’ and manufactures’ points for Panizzi and Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04 shows potential

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04
Gilles Panizzi / Hervé Panizzi
(Leg 3 - 25 January 2004)

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports team scored points in its debut outing back in the FIA World Rally Championship. Gilles and Hervé Panizzi piloted the all-new Lancer WRC04 back to Monaco in sixth position in Rallye Monte-Carlo, claiming points for themselves and the team in their first event as a new partnership.

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04
Gianluigi Galli / Guido D’Amore
(Leg 3 - 25 January 2004)
The 2004 Rallye Monte-Carlo has been typically tough and the field was decimated from 43 to just 20 by the time the crews arrived back in Monaco this afternoon. Today’s final leg took in just four stages and 104.40 competitive kilometers, but it was certainly no cruise to the finish.

Two loops of two stages lay in wait, the first of each being the run through Sospel-Turini-La Bollène where fans in their thousands camp out overnight, generating a party atmosphere on the top of the world-famous Col de Turini.

The 32.58 kilometer stage was however surprisingly clear of snow, just a five kilometer section on the final descent being covered in sheet ice. Lantosque-Lucéram, the second of these two stages, was however completely dry, for once making tire choice comparatively straight forward.

The Mitsubishi crew of Gilles and Hervé Panizzi were seventh and sixth fastest through the first two stages respectively, despite the French Lancer WRC04 driver dropping a bit of time to his rivals. "I could not push because we had a problem with the front shock absorbers in stage 12", commented Gilles, seventh overall after stage 13.

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04
Gianluigi Galli / Guido D’Amore
(Leg 3 - 25 January 2004)
After replacement units were fitted during service, the pair went on to set fifth fastest time in the last two stages and climbed into sixth position when reigning World Champion Petter Solberg dropped back with front suspension damage.

"I am very happy", added Gilles. "We did not make a lot of testing and of course we are all completely surprised we have not had more problems the first time the car has run in these conditions. To finish and score points is very good. I am confident with the team and the car, and this is the start of a new chapter in my motorsport career; I have found a good team".

For Mario Fornaris, Technical Director, the result has far exceeded expectations. "The target was to finish the rally and get more kilometers on the car; we did that and achieved it successfully with good reliability".

Adding to his comments, Sven Quandt, MMSP’s Head of Motorsport, said: "To have scored points like this, when the car is still so new and we also have new drivers, is quite exceptional; we are delighted with the team success in our first event back in the World Rally Championship. Last weekend we won the Dakar Rally and today we have made a successful return to the WRC. Points have been a great bonus. These results demonstrate Mitsubishi’s commitment to motorsport".

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04
Gianluigi Galli / Guido D’Amore
(Leg 3 - 25 January 2004)
The second round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders to the snowy forests of Scandinavia for the Uddeholm Swedish Rally (February 6-8). Twenty-six-year old Finn Kristian Sohlberg joins Gilles Panizzi in the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports team, the pair piloting the two registered Lancer WRC04s. Sweden is also the first qualifying round of the seven-event FIA Production Car World Rally Championship and 18 crews have nominated this as one of their points-scoring rallies. Both "Dani" Solà and "Gigi" Galli will be piloting Mitsubishi Group N machinery with Ralliart Italia in what is set to be a highly-competitive series.

News from our rivals...

Sébastien Loeb put in a faultless performance to claim his second consecutive Monte-Carlo victory, the Frenchman winning for Citroën by more than a minute. Behind him, a battle raged between Ford drivers François Duval and Markko Märtin and it was not until the penultimate stage that Märtin overhauled his team-mate to claim second position. Marcus Grönholm was also in the thick of the fight, but the Finn ultimately came home in fourth position in the new Peugeot 307. Petter Solberg was the greatest loser today, the Subaru driver dropping from fifth to seventh after damaging the front suspension in stage 14. His position was taken by Freddy Loix in the second registered 307.


  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Total Time Difference
 Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena F/MC  Citroën Xsara WRC   
 Markko Märtin / Michael Park EE/GB  Ford Focus RS WRC 03  + 1.12.6 
 François Duval / Stéphane Prevot B  Ford Focus RS WRC 03  + 1.19.6 
 Marcus Grönholm / Timo Rautiainen FIN  Peugeot 307 WRC  + 1.26.8 
 Freddy Loix / Sven Smeets B  Peugeot 307 WRC  + 8.16.9 
 Gilles Panizzi / Hervé Panizzi F  Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04  + 10.11.6 
 Petter Solberg / Phil Mills N/GB  Subaru Impreza WRC 2003  + 10.42.2 
 Olivier Burri / Jean-Philippe Patthey CH  Subaru Impreza WRC  + 17.49.1 
 Josef Beres / Petr Stary SK/CZ  Hyundai Accent WRC  + 19.43.1 
10   Nicolas Bernardi / Denis Giraudet F  Renault Clio  + 23.38.1 
11   Jussi Välimäki / Tero Gardemeister FIN  Hyundai Accent WRC³  + 24.11.2 
12   Urmo Aava / Kuldar Sikk EE  Suzuki Ignis  + 27.46.1 
13   Luca Rossetti / Dario D’Esposito I  Citroën Saxo VTS  + 29.02.6 
14   Kris Meeke / Chris Patterson GB  Opel Corsa  + 31.12.6 
15   Alessandro Broccoli / Giovanni Agnese I  Fiat Punto  + 31.20.2 
16   Larry Cols / Filip Godde B  Renault Clio  + 35.01.1 
17   Mirco Baldacci / Giovanni Bernacchini I  Suzuki Ignis  + 35.50.9 
18   Luca Cecchettini / Nicola Arena I  Renault Clio  + 47.11.6 
19   Per-Gunnar Andersson / Jonas Andersson S  Suzuki Ignis  + 49.19.5 
20   Mathieu Biasion / Philippe Coquard F  Fiat Punto  + 52.51.4 
Nationalities: B=Belgium/ CH=Switzerland/ CZ=Czech Republic/ EE=Estonia/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ I=Italy/ MC=Monte Carlo/ N=Norway/ S=Sweden/ SK=Slovak Republic/