The team's success means that Mitsubishi now holds second place in the championship, just 31 points behind Subaru with three rounds still to run. Richard Burns opened his championship account in the Drivers' series and now lies fifth. The event was won by Kenneth Eriksson and Staffan Parmander, who now lead the Drivers' Championship.
The Rally Malaysia turned out to be one of the most challenging of the series so far; in addition to extremely hot weather, temperatures peaking at 43 degrees Celsius, and high humidity in the strong sunshine, safety concerns caused the cancellation of almost half the stage distance, with just 16 of the 28 planned stages run and 198 km out of the original 396 km of stages completed. Despite the shortened route, just 32 cars out of the original 48 starters reached the finish in Kuala Lumpur.
The delays caused by the cancellations frustrated both Burns and Shinozuka in their efforts to catch the leaders. Richard used the first leg to re-acquaint himself with his Lancer, while Kenjiro had to overcome differential problems. After finishing the first day in second and fourth place respectively, the Mitsubishi pair launched their attack on the second leg only to find that most of the stages had been cancelled, with only five out of 13 running. The Mitsubishi pair wisely decided to hold their positions, although Shinozuka clawed his way up to third by the finish after Piero Liatti crashed his Subaru out of the event on stage 23, the last of leg two. Both Mitsubishi Lancers ran without fault on the last two legs.
Richard Burns commented: "It was a very difficult rally and hard to enjoy, but my Lancer ran perfectly, my Michelin tyres were very good, and I am very satisfied with my result."
Shinozuka added: "It was a very frustrating rally, but I am pleased with third. This would be a great rally with some improvements."
Despite the rough, hot conditions, Kataoka won the Group N category with ease to take the joint lead of the series for production cars in his standard Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III. He joins Malaysian driver Karamjit Singh, who finished second on his home event in a similar Proton Wira 4WD, at the top of the table.
The Japanese Mitsubishi driver said: "I am very happy to win Group N. This was a vital victory for me because my aim is to win the Group N Asia-Pacific Championship."
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short was delighted with the results, reporting: "We're very happy with our result here in Malaysia. Despite the challenge of the rough, hot conditions, and the frustration of having so many stages cancelled, we're very satisfied with our performance here. We're glad that Richard has had a good result, and Kenjiro did a very good back-up job, which now means there is everything to fight for in the Asia-Pacific Championship. The Group N victory was particularly satisfying for Kataoka, and we're also very pleased with that result."
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart now looks forward to the next round of the World Rally Championship in Argentina, which takes place on July 4-6, where Tommi Makinen hopes to extend his lead in the Drivers' series in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III and Richard Burns will be joining the World Championship team once again. The next round of the Asia-Pacific Championship will be the Rally New Zealand, which takes place on July 28-30, where Burns and Makinen will be hoping to put Mitsubishi back into control of the series.
Group N, the class for standard cars was once again dominated by Mitsubishi, with Yoshihiro Kataoka and Satoshi Hayashi taking the honours in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III. The Japanese pair now lead the Group N Asia-Pacific series jointly with Malaysia's Karamjit Singh, who finished second on this event in his Proton Wira 4WD which is similar in specification to the Mitsubishi Lancer.
With this result, Mitsubishi has strengthened its position in the FIA Asia-Pacific Championship for Manufacturers, claiming second place after this, the third round, with 68 points to Subaru's 99.
The final 186 km leg today was once again plagued with stage cancellations caused by safety concerns, with just two stages covering 36 km run out of five planned covering 70 km. Stage 26, the longest of the day at 23 km was successfully run thanks to the joint efforts of the Mitsubishi, Subaru, Hyundai, Suzuki and Goro rally teams who supplied teams of mechanics and other staff to help man and secure the stage. Once again, high temperatures and humidity made life difficult for the competitors, but both Burns, in the Michelin-shod Lancer, and Shinozuka, using Yokohama tyres, completed the two stages without problems. Out of the 35 cars that started the leg, 32 made it to the finish.
Said Burns: "It was a very difficult rally and hard to enjoy, but my Lancer ran perfectly, my Michelin tyres were very good, and I am very satisfied with my result."
Shinozuka commented: "It was a very frustrating rally, but I am pleased with third. This would be a great rally with some improvements."
Delighted Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short added: "We're very happy with our result here in Malaysia. Despite the challenge of the rough, hot conditions, and the frustration of having so many stages cancelled, we're very satisfied with our performance here. We're glad that Richard has had a good result, and Kenjiro did a very good back-up job, which now means there is everything to fight for in the Asia-Pacific Championship."
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart now looks forward to the next round of the World Rally Championship in Argentina, which takes place on July 4-6, where Tommi Makinen hopes to extend his lead in the Drivers' series in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III and Richard Burns will join the World Championship team once again. The next round of the Asia-Pacific Championship will be the Rally New Zealand, which takes place on July 28-30, where Burns and Makinen will be hoping to put Mitsubishi back into control of the series.
|1.K. Eriksson-S. Parmander||S/S||Subaru Impreza 555||02.25.33|
|GB/GB||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+1.17|
|J/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+7.51|
|4.P. Bourne-C. Vincent||RI/RI||Subaru Impreza||+7.56|
|T. Challis-S. Vanderbly||AUS/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+10.41|
|Y. Kataoka-S. Hayashi||J/J||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+11.46(1st N )|
|T.tomiyasu-S.Komiya||J/J||Mitsubishi Lancer RS||+16.39|
|K. Taguchi-M. Stacey||J/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+19.31|
Only five of today's 13 planned stages were run as the organisers clamped down on the safety aspects of the event, the 36 competitors that started from Kuala Lumper this morningtackling 51 km out of the original stage distance of 190 km. While the shortened route hampered both Mitsubishi drivers as they attempted to pressurise rally leader Kenneth Eriksson of Subaru, both performed superbly in the extremely hot and humid conditions.
Burns was fortunate to survive a final stage accident which saw the Lancer clip a tree under braking into a hairpin. The fact that no mechanical damage was sustained and the British driver lost only nine seconds to Eriksson is a testament to the strength of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III. The heavy cosmetic damage to the bodywork was quickly and efficiently repaired by the Ralliart technicians at the final service.
Says Burns: "I hit the tree very hard, but the car is still driving perfectly. Although it was a long day today we did very few stages which was frustrating and affected every drivers' concentration. Everything went perfectly apart from the last stage and the Lancer is running extremely well on its Michelin tyres."
Shinozuka reports: " The car is much better today, but I had a puncture on stage 20. I am pleased that we have now moved up to third place. It has been a difficult but rewarding day."
Team Petronas Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short adds: "With the stage cancellations it was a very difficult day. However, both Richard and Kenjiro remained clam and relaxed despite the frustration caused by the resultant delays, and we are very happy to be second and third at this point."
Japanese driver Yoshihro Kataoka, co-driven by Satoshi Hayashi continues to lead Group N in his standard version of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III, despite driving hard over extremely rough terrain in hot conditions, strong sunshine in the afternoon pushing temperatures over the 40 degree Celsius mark once again. With only one retirement, when Piero Liatti crashed his Subaru on the final stage, 35 cars reported to the second overnight halt in Kuala Lumpur.
The third and final leg of the Rally Malaysia starts tomorrow at 06:00 with five stages planned covering 70 km in a route of 186 km. Strong sunshine and high temperatures are expected again. The Rally is due to finish in Kuala Lumpur at 12:00.
|1.K. Eriksson-S. Parmander||S/S||Subaru Impreza 555||01.56.35|
|GB/GB||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+1.15|
|J/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+6.07|
|4.P. Bourne-C. Vincent||RI/RI||Subaru Impreza||+10.45|
|AUS/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+11.09|
|J/J||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+11.26|
|7.N. Tajima-J. Sukosi||J/T||Suzuki Swift||+15.45|
|8.W. Bell-I. Stewart||AUS/AUS||Hyundai Lantra||+16.02|
Japanese driver Kenjiro Shinozuka, co-driven by Fred Gocentas, holds fourth in the second Team Petronas Mitsubishi Ralliart Lancer Evolution III after a careful first day over the hot dusty tracks through palm oil plantations north of Kuala Lumpur.
Fortyeight cars started from Kuala Lumpur this morning to tackle nine special stages covering 111 km in an first leg overall route of 329 km. Ten stages had been planned originally, but the second, the longest of the event at 25 km, was cancelled two days before the start for safety reasons. Temperatures soared to 43 degrees Celsius in the searing sunshine and this, combined with the roughest, driest and dustiest conditions ever witnessed in this event made it one of the toughest so far this year. Nevertheless, 36 cars managed to make it back to Kuala Lumpur for the first overnight halt.
Burns was delighted with his second place at the end of the leg. After retiring on the first two rounds of the Asia-Pacific series, despite promising performances, he drove with extreme caution over the first leg in Malaysia while he re-acquainted himself with the Lancer. "I haven't completed much distance in this car in competition, so I spent the first day getting used to the Lancer. Although the stages were rough, the Lancer was very good in these conditions so it was no problem for me. Plus the Michelin tyres worked very well and we had good support from the Michelin technicians, which gave me confidence. I will get quicker as the rally goes on."
Shinozuka was also happy with his fourth place, despite some difficulty with the transmission system. "I had only two-wheel drive for the last five stages, so it was hard to set good stage times. Otherwise the car was working very well, and my Yokohama tyres were perfect for the conditions," he commented.
Team Petronas Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short revealed: "Shinozuka's transmission was replaced at the final service this evening, as was Richard's as a precautionary measure. Otherwise both Lancers were is good shape after a very hard day. I am delighted with both drivers' performances, and Richard is particularly calm and relaxed, despite the pressure he is under to score points here."
In Group N, the class for standard production cars, Mitsubishi enjoyed considerable success with Japanese driver Yoshihiro Kataoka comfortable in first place in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III, followed by Proton Wira driver Katsuhiko Taguchi. Favourite for the category, local driver Karamjit Singh, dropped to third in his Proton with electrical problems half way through the leg after leading initially.
The Petronas Rally Malaysia restarts tomorrow morning from Kuala Lumpur at 07:00 for the longest day of the event, featuring 13 special stages covering 190 km in a total distance of 440 km. The surviving competitors are due to finish the second leg back in Kuala Lumpur at around 20:20.
|1.K. Eriksson-S. Parmander||S/S||Subaru Impreza 555||01.21.01|
|GB/GB||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+0.50|
|3.P. Liatti-F. Ponz||I/I||Subaru Impreza 555||+2.46|
|J/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+5.59|
|J/J||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+7.40|
|AUS/AUS||Mitsubishi Lancer Evol. III||+7.57|
|7.N. Tajima-J. Sukosi||J/T||Suzuki Swift||+10.14|
|8.P. Bourne-C. Vincent||RI/RI||Subaru Impreza||+10.30|
The three day Petronas Rally Malaysia is the third round of the Asia-Pacific series, and both Burns, co-driven by Robert Reid, and Shinozuka, partnered by Fred Gocentas, are aiming to repeat last year's victory when Kenneth Eriksson and Tommi Makinen recorded a dramatic one-two win for Mitsubishi on their way to lifting both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' crowns for Kenneth and Mitsubishi respectively.
The 955 km event features 28 special stages totalling 396 km in distance over three legs, starting and finishing in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. The stages are similar in many ways to those of Indonesia, with fast, gravel tracks through palm oil and rubber plantations that can be rough when dry, and extremely slippery when wet.
Richard Burns who, despite demonstrating great potential in the Lancer on the first two rounds of the series in Thailand and Indonesia, has yet to score for Mitsubishi, comments: "I have a lot to do in Malaysia to have a chance of winning the championship. This event will be very important for me and I am aiming for a good finish to score points for myself and the team."
Kenjiro Shinozuka, Asia-Pacific Champion in 1988 and looking forward to his first Asian round this year after a successful earlier outing in the Kenyan Safari Rally, says: "The Petronas Rally Malaysia will be very challenging and we have strong opposition, but the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III is the best car for this type of event, especially teamed with Yokohama tyres."
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Manager Phil Short adds: "Last year this event was the turning point for Mitsubishi in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, and we hope it will be the same this year. We have a car and Michelin tyres that are a proven combination in Malaysia. Richard is very keen to do well after his previous misfortunes in Thailand and Indonesia, and Kenjiro is very experienced and knows Asian rallies well. I am sure we can look forward to a good rally."
The Petronas Rally Malaysia starts on Saturday, June 15 at 09:00 from Jalan Raja in Kuala Lumpur, finishing back in the city at around 12:00 on Monday, June 17. MITSUBISHI LANCERS READY FOR CHALLENGE OF MALAYSIA
The third round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, the Petronas Rally Malaysia, will undoubtedly be a decisive event as Richard Burns and Kenjiro Shinozuka challenge their rivals on behalf of Team Petronas Mitsubishi Ralliart in a pair of Lancer Evolution IIIs.
The bustling city of Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, provides the setting for one of the most important rounds of the Asia-Pacific series, a rally which last year represented the turning point in Mitsubishis fortunes in both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships.
The Petronas Rally Malaysia is typical of many rounds in the Asian region. Often run in high temperatures and oppressive humidity, the competitors face the challenge of fast, gravel tracks through rubber and palm oil plantations that are transformed in character from rough, dry roads, to slimy, mud-covered skating rinks during heavy rain showers. Traction is critical, and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III's Active Control 4WD System, featuring an electronically-controlled active centre differential comes into its own in these conditions.
The Petronas Rally Malaysia starts from Jalan Raja in Kuala Lumpur at 09:00 on Saturday, June 15, and the competing drivers and co-drivers will face 10 special stages covering 136 km before returning to the capital for the first overnight halt, finishing at the Concorde Hotel at 20:00. The second and longest leg features 13 stages totalling 190 km, starting from the Concorde Hotel at 07:00, returning the same day for the second overnight halt at 20:20.
The third and final leg is much shorter with just five special stages covering 70 km, although it will be by no means easy as the surviving competitors battle to the last for valuable Asia-Pacific points, starting from the Concorde Hotel at 06:00, with the ceremonial finish at Jalan Raja at 12:00 on Monday, June 17. In total, the survivors will have covered 955 km with 28 special stages totalling 396 km in length.
Copyright 1996 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.
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