15 May 2005 LEG 3 RELEASE

Rovanperä 7th in the toughest event of the season

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen

At the end of what is likely to be the toughest round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team claimed manufacturer points with both its Lancer WRC05 cars, one of only two of the six registered teams to do so. Harri Rovanperä/Risto Pietiläinen finished seventh overall and while team-mates Gilles and Hervé Panizzi finished 11th, they claimed the final manufacturer point in the Cyprus Rally.

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen
"After three long and very demanding days, our crews did a good job and brought both cars to the finish", said Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports. "To score manufacturer points with both cars on such a severe event was very important and I really appreciate the effort made by the drivers, co-drivers, engineers and mechanics. It was a pity to have some problems, but we have learned a lot which will prove very important for the next two events, in particular. Turkey will be less rough but the temperatures will be higher, but the knowledge we have gained here will help us make good preparations".

The third leg of the event saw an early start for the crews at 06:00 hrs and once again took in two loops of three identical stages. Road conditions were reported to be reasonable and fewer crews experienced major problems, although there was no respite until reaching the finish in the coastal resort of Limassol.

Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen had a good run through this morning’s stages, the Finns never outside the top five in each. They maintained their seventh position throughout a trouble-free afternoon, easing the pace to ensure they reached the finish and claimed points for themselves and the team.

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Gilles Panizzi / Hervé Panizzi
"Finally we are at the finish!" said Harri. "We weren’t cruising today, but the gaps in front and behind were big enough that there was no sense in pushing hard and risking the car. These were some of the worst roads I have seen in years, maybe only matched by the Acropolis many years ago. We have a test coming up next week where we can focus on issues from this event and hopefully make some more improvements to help us in Turkey and Greece. Overall I’m pleased; I think without problems we could have been fighting with Manfred (Stohl) and had a very good result".

Rallying brothers Gilles and Hervé Panizzi claimed 11th position in their first competitive outing since Rally México in March. The French pair lost considerable time in the opening leg with engine-related and transmission problems and struggled to make inroads into the leaderboard.

"It was a difficult weekend and it’s nice to finish and get a point for Mitsubishi", said Gilles. "It has been the worst event of the season, in terms of the roughness of the roads, and for various reasons it was simply a matter of getting through the stages".

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Gilles Panizzi / Hervé Panizzi
Summing up the event, Technical Director Mario Fornaris said: "Looking back to before the start, we said we wanted one car in the top five and both in the points; we have achieved this as far as manufacturer points are concerned. There is a little bit of frustration because we could have been better, but I must say it’s been hard work for the entire team on such a difficult, rough and demanding rally".

Round 7 of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the crews across the Mediterranean to Turkey (June 2-5) for another searingly hot and rough gravel event.

News from our rivals

Sébastien Loeb recorded a highly-impressive fourth victory of the season and his third in succession. The Frenchman was never rivaled and he reached Limassol with an incredible four minute 09.5 second winning margin. Manfred Stohl was another revelation. The Austrian was also blisteringly quick from the outset and in a privately-run Citroën Xsara he claimed second overall. The face of the leaderboard remained largely unchanged, although Henning Solberg slipped from third to fourth in his M-Sport-run Focus, the Norwegian losing time when the engine kept cutting out in stage 15. The final podium position therefore went to Markko Märtin, ensuring Peugeot maintained its lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Ford drivers Toni Gardemeister and Roman Kresta claimed fifth and sixth respectively, handing Ford its 50 consecutive points-scoring finish. Antony Warmbold was the only leading retirement of the leg, his Focus with no oil pressure on the road section to the first stage.

2005 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship (Round 3/8)


Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Fumio Nutahara put in a fine performance to claim sixth place in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship on the third round of the series, the Cyprus Rally. The Japanese won a frenzied duel with fellow countryman Toshihiro Arai to maintain his World Championship chances in this hotly-fought series.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Fumio Nutahara / Satoshi Hayashi
The final leg of an exceptionally grueling rally headed north-east of Limassol for 95.34 kilometers of tough stages snaking through the rugged mountains around Vavatsinia and Macheras, sleepy villages brought to life by the noise and color of the World Championship circus. After two days of relentless pounding on rocky, ultra-twisty tracks, most drivers were content to survive another hot and dusty day in the Mediterranean sun.

Fumio Nutahara put in a gritty performance in his Lancer Evolution to make sure of sixth in the PWRC and three useful points towards his World Championship bid. It was an excellent result on his first attempt at the event, especially as he ran out of new tires for the final decisive loop of stages

"This morning I started just over one minute ahead of my Japanese friend Toshihiro Arai and I thought it would be enough of a margin", said Nutahara. "I controlled everything and today has been very good, no big problems. I am very happy to take sixth place; it has been hard work! It’s a tough rally, but I am sure we could have done better if we had had some luck. For my first Cyprus Rally, I think the performance is not too bad and I would like to have similar success in Turkey".

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Andreas Aigner / Timo Gottschalk
Spaniard Xavier Pons remains Mitsubishi’s highest-placed PWRC title contender, in second, setting a number of excellent stage times in his Lancer Evolution and finishing 10th in the category.

One of the stars of the rally was certainly the 20-year-old Austrian Andreas Aigner, who finished fifth in the overall Group N leaderboard in his Lancer Evolution. Aigner had run has high as third, but still ended up beating Middle East Rally Champion Nasser Al-Attiyah in only his second rally on dirt roads and his first at World Championship level. Often handicapped by his position on the road, the Austrian took no risks and his Red Bull Rally Team Lancer Evolution never missed a beat during the event.

"I feel very, very good", he said. "This result is like a dream for me. It is a very long and very hard rally. I wanted just to see the finish, so to be setting the same times as some of the top drivers is very pleasing. We were here to learn, and finish".

The FIA Production Car World Rally Championship resumes next month with the Rally of Turkey (June 2-5), an event that promises to be every bit as rough and hot as Cyprus.


  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Sébastien LOEB / Daniel Elena F/MC  CITROEN Xsara WRC A8 M   
 Manfred STOHL / Ilka Minor A  CITROEN Xsara WRC A8  4.09.5 
 Markko MARTIN / Michael Park EE/GB  PEUGEOT 307 WRC A8 M  4.41.9 
 Henning SOLBERG / Cato Menkerud N  FORD Focus RS WRC 04 A8  5.15.7 
 Toni GARDEMEISTER / Jakke Honkanen FIN  FORD Focus RS WRC 04 A8 M  7.37.3 
 Roman KRESTA / Jan Možný CZ  FORD Focus RS WRC 04 A8 M  10.17.4 
 Harri ROVANPERA / Risto Pietiläinen FIN  MITSUBISHI Lancer WRC05 A8 M  12.18.7 
 Daniel CARLSSON / Mattias Andersson S  PEUGEOT 206 WRC A8  16.03.2 
 Janne TUOHINO / Mikko Markkula FIN  SKODA Fabia WRC A8 M  16.46.3 
10   Christopher ATKINSON / Glenn Macneall AUS  SUBARU Impreza WRC 05 A8 M  27.01.5 
11   Gilles PANIZZI / Hervé Panizzi F  MITSUBISHI Lancer WRC05 A8 M  31.30.4 
12   Brice TIRABASSI / Matthieu Baumel F  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  32.08.8 
13   Armin SCHWARZ / Klaus Wicha D  SKODA Fabia WRC A8 M  34.33.2 
14   Sebastián BELTRAN / Edgardo Galindo RA  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  36.34.7 
15   Andreas TSOULOFTAS / Savvas Laos CY  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution A8  38.50.3 
16   Marcos LIGATO / Ruben Garcia RA  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  39.21.7 
17   Gabriel POZZO / Daniel Stillo RA  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  39.32.8 
18   Andreas AIGNER / Timo Gottschalk A  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  40.21.3 
19   Nasser-S. AL-ATTIYAH / Chris Patterson QA/GB  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  40.27.1 
20   Fumio NUTAHARA / Satoshi Hayashi J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P  46.30.4 
21   Toshihiro ARAI / Tony Sircombe J/NZ  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  46.37.5 
22   Demetris PAPASAVVAS / E. Xenophontos CY  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  50.53.7 
23   Quirin MUELLER / Peter Müller D/A  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  52.24.0 
24   Sergery USPENSKIY / Victor Timkovskiy RUS  SUBARU Impreza N4  54.16.9 
25   Floros STYLIANOU / Costas Laos CY  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  55.35.2 
26   Chris THOMAS / "Chips" CY  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  56.41.7 
27   Federico VILLAGRA / Javier Villagra RA  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P  59.00.6 
28   Riccardo ERRANI / Stefano Casadio I  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P 
32   Yiotis HARTOUPALOS / Marios Vassiliades CY  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 
34   Xavier PONS / Oriol Julià E  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P 
Nationalities: A=Austria/ AUS=Australia/ CY=Cyprus/ CZ=Czech Republic/ D=Germany/ E=Spain/ EE=Estonia/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ I=Italy/ J=Japan/ MC=Monte Carlo/ N=Norway/ NZ=New Zealand/ QA=Qatar/ RA=Argentina/ RUS=Russia/ S=Sweden/
M: drivers nominated in the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers
P: drivers eligible for FIA Production Car World Rally Championship points