10 April 2005 LEG 3 RELEASE


Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Gianluigi Galli / Guido D’Amore

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of "Gigi" Galli and Guido D’Amore finished in the points in their second outing in Rally New Zealand, the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Italian Lancer WRC05 duo finished eighth and claimed a driver and manufacturer points finish for the second time this season - Mitsubishi’s fourth consecutive points-scoring finish in 2005. Team-mates Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen completed the final stage but were then withdrawn by the team on the road section back to Auckland with tire problems.

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Gianluigi Galli / Guido D’Amore
"Even though Gigi added to his and the team’s points tally, this has been a disappointing rally for us", said Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports. "We expected more but have experienced technical problems and for this we cannot be happy. Both cars finished the stages, but we struggled with the tire wear and we have to analyze this, do our homework and work to overcome such problems".

The final leg of Rally New Zealand was fought out on the stages near Raglan, 160 kilometers south of Auckland. Two loops of two stages lay in wait and both included the famous and spectacular Whaanga Coast stage, which hugs the coastline of the Tasman Sea and is rated as one of the best roads in the Championship.

Gigi Galli and Guido D’Amore had a trouble-free final leg, maintaining their unchallenged eighth position. "Our goal was to get to the finish and be in the points, so I think we did our job well", said Gigi at the finish. "We had some technical problems in the first leg and then today we drove these stages for the first time; they are very twisty and complicated but we didn’t have any problems. Personally I have to feel very satisfied with our own performance".

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen
Team-mates Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen experienced some engine overheating problems during this morning’s stages, but the crew completed all of Rally New Zealand’s 20 stages. However, they experienced excessive tire wear today and by the end of the final stage were running virtually without rubber. On the road section back to service, the wear deteriorated further and the team took the decision to withdraw the crew rather than run on the road illegally and potentially cause damage to the Lancer WRC05.

"Harri ended up driving with no rubber on the rear wheels on the road section back to Auckland and there was no sense in carrying on like this", said Mario Fornaris, the team’s Technical Director. "On the one hand this has been our most difficult event this year, but Gigi continues to perform well and very consistently. We have to continue working with Pirelli, as tires have been our main problem during this rally. We know that Harri has a more aggressive driving style, which causes the tires to wear maybe 10/20% more, but we have to find some solution to this".

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05
Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen
The fifth round of the series takes the FIA World Rally Championship contenders to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia for Rally Italia - Sardinia (28 April-1 May). Gigi Galli will again be partnering Harri Rovanperä in the second Lancer WRC05, and the Italian will be hoping to improve on his fine sixth overall in 2004, an impressive achievement in Mitsubishi’s Group N machinery. Looking ahead to Cyprus, Gilles Panizzi will once again be behind the wheel, piloting the second Lancer WRC05.

News from our rivals

Sébastien Loeb racked up his second victory of the season this afternoon, claiming an emphatic 49.8 second advantage in the Citroën Xsara. The Frenchman now moves up the series leaderboard into second behind Championship leader Petter Solberg, who finished third behind Marcus Grönholm. François Duval finished fourth, his first points-scoring finish since joining Citroën this year. Toni Gardemeister - piloting the sole registered Focus after Roman Kresta was forced to withdraw after a huge accident during shakedown - extended Ford’s record of points-scoring finishes by claiming sixth. Chris Atkinson finished a fine seventh in his first season with Subaru, picking up useful driver and manufacturer points. Škoda’s Janne Tuohino was the only manufacturer retirement during the event, the Finn out with a broken turbo this morning.

2005 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship (Round 2/8)


Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Xavier Pons gained a thrilling victory in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship category in Rally New Zealand. After a ferocious battle against fierce opposition, the Spaniard took the championship class by just 17 seconds.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Xavier Pons / Oriol Julià
The concluding leg comprised just four stages totaling 87.29 competitive kilometers, but was in no sense an afterthought, as it included two runs at the renowned Whaanga Coast road, winding between the Pirongia Forest Park and the Tasman Sea to the south of the country’s main city, Auckland. Much narrower and twistier, the stages of the last leg caused havoc, as weary drivers and machinery succumbed to the strain after three days’ rallying in New Zealand.

Xavier Pons was soon under pressure, losing his overnight lead after he spun twice in SS18, the second stage of the leg. He was neck and neck with Japan’s Toshi Arai with a stage to run, but a brilliant performance on the final stage earned a brilliant victory.

"When we spun I was frightened we had lost too much time to win, but we kept attacking", said Pons. "The car and tires have been fantastic and in the end everything went well. I am so happy. This is my best result in rallying I think. I have a good feeling now about the rest of the season".

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Argentine driver Federico Villagra put in a fine showing on his first World Championship appearance of the season to net sixth in the PWRC in his Lancer Evolution.

"It was my first time here and it is a very nice rally. We wanted to finish and score points, so I am very pleased with this result", said the Argentinean and Chilean rally champion.

Japan’s Fumio Nutahara suffered some problems in the early stages of the rally, notably a one-minute road penalty, but the Lancer Evolution driver displayed real determination to fight his way home to seventh, gaining two World Championship points.

"New Zealand is never an easy rally and I think we were not so lucky this time", said Fumio. "Still, we have finished and scored points, and that is the important thing for the World Championship".

The FIA Production Car World Rally Championship resumes next month in the northern hemisphere with the Cyprus Rally, on May 13-15.

: Harri Rovanperä retired on the road section after the last special stage

  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Sébastien LOEB / Daniel Elena F/MC  CITROEN Xsara WRC A8 M   
 Marcus GRONHOLM / Timo Rautiainen FIN  PEUGEOT 307 WRC A8 M  49.8 
 Petter SOLBERG / Phil Mills N/GB  SUBARU Impreza WRC 05 A8 M  1.08.7 
 François DUVAL / Stéphane Prevot B  CITROEN Xsara WRC A8 M  2.06.3 
 Markko MARTIN / Michael Park EE/GB  PEUGEOT 307 WRC A8 M  3.09.1 
 Toni GARDEMEISTER / Jakke Honkanen FIN  FORD Focus RS WRC 04 A8 M  3.16.3 
 Christopher ATKINSON / Glenn Macneall AUS  SUBARU Impreza WRC 05 A8 M  4.37.2 
 "Gigi" GALLI / Guido D’Amore I  MITSUBISHI Lancer WRC05 A8 M  6.50.5 
 Manfred STOHL / Ilka Minor A  CITROEN Xsara WRC A8  8.15.5 
10   Armin SCHWARZ / Klaus Wicha D  SKODA Fabia WRC A8 M  10.18.0 
11   Antony WARMBOLD / Michael Orr D/GB  FORD Focus RS WRC 04 A8  14.37.3 
12   Cody CROCKER / Dale Moscatt AUS  SUBARU Impreza N4  15.01.0 
13   Xavier PONS / Oriol Julià E  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P  15.08.7 
14   Toshihiro ARAI / Tony Sircombe J/NZ  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  15.25.7 
15   Marcos LIGATO / Fernando Mussano RA  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  16.03.8 
16   Nasser-S. AL-ATTIYAH / Chris Patterson QA/GB  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  16.05.9 
17   Per-Gunnar ANDERSSON / J. Andersson S  SUZUKI Ignis A6  17.32.5 
18   Karamjit SINGH / John Bennie MAL/GB  PROTON Pert N4 P  19.07.1 
19   Federico VILLAGRA / Javier Villagra RA  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P  20.41.2 
20   Fumio NUTAHARA / Satoshi Hayashi J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P  21.28.9 
21   Mark TAPPER / Jeff Judd NZ  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  21.34.7 
22   Hamed AL-WAHAIBI / David Senior OM/GB  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  21.52.4 
23   Brice TIRABASSI / Matthieu Baumel F  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  22.22.7 
24   Sebastián BELTRAN / Edgardo Galindo RA  SUBARU Impreza N4 P  22.31.8 
25   Hiroshi YANAGISAWA / Tadashi Misaizu J  SUBARU Impreza N4  22.57.8 
26   Emma GILMOUR / Chris Randell NZ  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  24.35.2 
28   Kevin SHAW / Brian Price IRL/AUS  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  31.54.8 
30   Luis ROSSELOT / Ricardo Rojas RCH  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P  33.04.5 
31   Dylan TURNER / Sandeep Bansal NZ  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  37.59.1 
32   Dermott MALLEY / Fleur Pedersen NZ  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  41.27.2 
37   Natalie BARRATT / Carl Williamson GB  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P  48.10.0 
38   Lorna SMITH / Stewart Merry GB  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4  55.50.2 
41   "A.B.A." / Victor Federer PY  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 P 
42   Michiaki HORIKOME / Yoko Horikome J  MITSUBISHI Lancer Evolution N4 
Nationalities: A=Austria/ AUS=Australia/ B=Belgium/ D=Germany/ E=Spain/ EE=Estonia/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ I=Italy/ IRL=Ireland/ J=Japan/ MAL=Malaysia/ MC=Monte Carlo/ N=Norway/ NZ=New Zealand/ OM=Oman/ PY=Paraguay/ QA=Qatar/ RA=Argentina/ RCH=Chile/ S=Sweden/
M: drivers nominated in the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers
P: drivers eligible for FIA Production Car World Rally Championship points